Embrace the Future and Vote on Principle

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Tuesday, 9/6/16

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The Democratic National Convention is wrapping up and Hillary Clinton has secured the Democratic nomination. The two major parties have now chosen their candidates for president. Donald Trump will represent the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton will represent the Democratic Party. The Libertarian Party chose Gary Johnson earlier this summer to represent them and Jill Stein will undoubtedly be selected to represent the Green Party.
As convention season is coming to a close and the choices have been narrowed to a few options, it will soon be time to start making decisions on who will be the next leader of the United States of America. This article is not meant to push the reader in one way or another. Rather, it is to inspire the reader to make up their mind on their own and vote for a candidate they believe will lead the United States the best.
Now that the candidates have been chosen, parties and campaigns are going to try and connect with the voter any way that they can. Advertisements will begin to flood television, radios, and social media trying to persuade people to vote one way or another. Contrary to what candidates and campaigns will tell the voters, there are viable reasons to vote for every candidate.
What makes the United States of America an incredible country is the ability the people possess to voice their opinion and have a say in the political process. While this is a wonderful right of the American citizen, many people do not exercise it. Voter apathy is one of the biggest issues facing the United States. Some of that apathy comes from the idea that one person’s vote does not matter. So far, the 2016 election seems as though it will do nothing but further that idea because the two major parties have selected polarizing candidates which is problematic to the moderates.
While many people are upset about not having their ideal candidate representing the major parties, voting is still crucial. Not only that, but voting with principle is imperative.
Donald Trump and the Republican Party are going to tell voters that a vote for a more obscure candidate is a vote for Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are going to tell voters that a vote for another candidate is a vote for Donald Trump. The Libertarians and Gary Johnson are going to tell voters that voting for a major party is a vote for the status quo in politics. There is nothing wrong with this. They are passionate about their beliefs and they truly believe that they will take the United States of America in the right direction.
Voters have an incredible ability. They can push this country in the direction that they want. The people quite often underestimate their power. The people have immense amounts of influence on the direction the government moves in. One vote for a candidate like Jill Stein might seem irrelevant, but if the citizens work to stay educated and they vote their beliefs, that will not be the case. This election cycle provides evidence of this. Bernie Sanders, a Socialist started off the election cycle as an unknown candidate. It was seemingly inevitable that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Bernie Sanders garnered more support than anyone could have imagined and inspired disenfranchised voters to get involved in the political process. While he did not win the nomination, he showed that any candidate has a chance if the people take advantage of their right to vote and express their opinion. He had little support from the establishment and special interest groups. His average donation was $29, which is unheard of for a candidate who is a true contender in the election, but he was able to promote change without the help of the political elite and special interest groups.
The point being made is not that the United States of America loves socialism. Rather, it is that the people can provoke the change they desire by getting out, voting, and expressing their opinion. If Bernie Sanders can galvanize that much support without the help of his party and special interest groups, why is it so far-fetched to believe that another candidate can do the same? It is simply a fallacy in the minds of the American people.
With all of this being said, each candidate, no matter how obscure or mainstream, brings something different to the table. They represent a set of ideals. Some ideals are popular and some are not, but that does not mean that they are any less relevant than the others.
If the people vote based on who they think will win, then they have missed the point of voting. The presidential election is not the same as betting on sports teams winning championships. The people do not have a say in what a sports team does, but they do have a say in the direction of the nation. The people do not owe anything to parties or candidates. The people do not exist to support the government, the government exists to help the people. Therefore, it is up to the voter to educate themselves on the issues, read about every candidate and their ideals and vote for the candidate that aligns closest to the principles of the voter.
If every citizen educates themselves, makes their own opinion, and casts their vote based on their principles, anything can happen. The government quite often does not reflect the ideals of the people, but that should not be a surprise given the fact that more than one third of the population did not vote in the 2012 election cycle. How can the government truly reflect the ideals of the people if a massive percentage of voters do not express them through voting?
If the average citizen does not agree with the direction of the government, they have a responsibility to the future of the nation to vote for change. If the citizen does not vote for change, it sends a message to government that the status quo is acceptable. The founding fathers constructed our government to be a reflection of the ideals of the people. It is foolish to expect that the government will change the way it operates if the people do not express their dissatisfaction through voting. It is not enough to go on social media and share or like something. Voting is not done through social media and political leaders do not use social media to determine policy. Political leaders determine policy based on how the people vote.
The United States of America is a constantly changing entity pushed forward by citizens involving themselves and voicing their beliefs through the process of voting. The United States will continue to move forward, but the only way that it will move forward in a way that reflects the ideals of the people is if citizens embrace and exercise their right vote and vote based on their principles.
DISCLAIMER: This article is largely based on opinion and personal experience. The intention is to provoke thought, not to persuade or push one way or another. Therefore, please read this, think about it, then make up your mind for yourself.




Brad Lake
Michigan State Chair for Young Americans for Liberty 
Central Michigan University Student


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