The Power in Your Vote

The current political state of our country, and world, seems to constantly be erratically changing – and not for the better. All the power seems to be left in the hands of the orange man in the White House, or so it seems. The news is filled with atrocities and tragedies again and again, as if they will never end. But the fate of this nightmare we are all living in does not depend on the interest of those belonging to the ‘one percent,' but rather on the interests of the remaining ninety-nine percent of Americans, which compose the electorate. This is something I’ve observed many people to have forgotten about. Something that outnumbers and outweighs the bottom line, and that is the power that the people possess.

Voting is not the sole answer to fixing our society, but it is one that should not be underestimated. It should especially not be forgotten by demographic groups that could greatly impact election results, such as millennials, that is if they turn out to the polls. Millennials, which the Pew Research Center defined as people from 18-35 years old, made up approximately 31 percent of the electorate in 2016, while the “silent generation” (71 years or older) make up 12 percent, Generation X (36-51 years old) holds 25 percent, leaving the rest to the baby boomers (52-70 years old). According to NPR, only 49 percent of millennials voted in the 2016 presidential election that led to the current Trump Administration. Imagine the impact that a significantly large demographic group could have created if even 25 percent more voted.

Well, another election is around the corner. The midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 6, in the state of California. Presidential candidates may not be on this ballot, but local measures and propositions are that could greatly impact your everyday life. These measures, ranging from water-management projects, to Santa Monica City Council term limits are all highly important local issues with large and lasting implications. But, California’s recent decline in midterm election participation is concerning.

According to PBS, nationwide voter turn-out in the last midterm election in 2014 was the lowest since 1942, when the nation was heavily embroiled in the conflict we know as World War II. Of the entire electorate, only 36.4 percent participated in casting a ballot. Even worse for Californians, voter participation across the state of California was down 25.5 percent in 2014 from the previous midterm election in 2010, a troubling trend for a state often looked to for setting a democratic example.

The continuing downtrend in voter participation for general and midterm election cycles in California, and the United States as a whole, is unsustainable to maintaining a functioning democratic system of government. Now more than ever, the millennial generation has the national presence to command the stage of government, and we must find pride in sounding our voices and participating in the collective fate our society. Many have already heard the call to action, and encouraging surges in voter registration nationwide allows sight of a small glimmer of hope that 2018 will see a renewed energy and level of participation from the changing electorate. However, there is still much work to be done.

If you think, "my vote doesn’t matter" or anything similar, it does. If everyone possessed that mentality, well, then of course it wouldn’t matter. But if everyone eligible to vote saw the power in exercising that right, maybe in the future we won’t have to deal with the orange man in the white house.