Letting bigots, racists and elitists win

By and

Last week, The Chronicle focused on voting and election issues. Much was made about candidates and their stances, student groups rallying students to register and so forth. Much was said about why the bloc of people in the country least likely to vote (that’s us, by the way) should get more involved in the political process.

I would like to suggest that the most important reason to vote is because you can.

When you really stop to think about it, it’s quite extraordinary.

The fight to get women to vote lasted decades. Suffragettes were imprisoned, branded as degenerates of society, and attacked verbally and physically-all because they wanted for themselves and their daughters the right to vote.

Women in this country have been able to vote for fewer than 100 years. Yet when the November election rolls around, most college-aged women across the U.S. won’t be standing in line at booths, grateful to have a voice in their government.

Women are not the only group of Americans who have had to fight to vote.

Even after African-American males were enfranchised after the Civil War, their right to vote was not always upheld in many places. Grandfather laws, literacy laws and other mockeries of the legal system stripped thousands of their constitutional right to vote for decades. African-Americans had to fight long and hard for their rights as voting citizens, even after those rights had been granted by constitutional amendments.

And not until 1971 was the voting age lowered to 18.

Many people our age do not even realize the reason for this.

During the Vietnam War, the draft could force an 18- year old to fight for his country.

But the Constitution would not let him choose the leaders who enacted that draft until he was 21.

It was youth-based protests that led to the passing of the 26th Amendment.

People do often forget that the battle for the right to vote was a difficult victory in this country.

If patriotic men and women of all races, religions, creeds and ages had not fought for our rights generations ago, the only people able to vote this November would be white, land-owning males over the age of 21.

Think of yourself. Think of your friends. Who do you personally know who fits these criteria? Do you know anybody who would be able to cast a vote in this election?

I know that it can be hard to care when it seems like your voice doesn’t really matter. I completely understand those who complain about the “lack of options” in this race for the presidency. Quite frankly, I’m just watching the debates to decide which candidate I hate least.

But the fact that I don’t have a choice I like does not invalidate the fact that I have a choice.

You should vote this November not because it’s your civic duty, but because you want to show those politicians they can’t ignore the 18-to-24 age demographic, because I tell you to, because your professors tell you to, and because self-important celebrities or your parents tell you to.

You should vote because you can.

You should vote because it wasn’t all that long ago that you couldn’t.

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