Moran: Millennial votes have the power to effect change


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Ben Moran

Ronald Reagan told it best when he said, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

Now, more than ever, we hear about government scandals and lack of trust in elected officials.

But we have the power to change that.

U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old have gained the right to vote on a local, state and national level, but young people have tended to neglect this right.

A study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that voters between 18 and 24 years old have the lowest voter registration percentage — 58.5 percent — among all age groups.

It’s ironic how young people tend not to vote, especially considering they control 21 percent of eligible voters in the United States, according to a report by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. That’s one-fifth of eligible voters. 

So why is voting so important? As Americans, we have the right to choose who represents us, which is a privilege that others don’t have and an idea that is often lost among young people.

Realizing that we have a say — an opportunity some other countries don’t have — is a step toward getting young voters to participate.

The 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush is a great example of how big of an impact each vote has on an election. It was one of the closest presidential elections and was decided by just a a handful of votes. 

Bush defeated Gore in electoral votes,  271 to 266, but Gore edged out Bush in popular votes by 0.5 percent.

The last time someone won the electoral votes but lost the popular vote was 1888. 

The 2000 election included plenty of controversy, but imagine what would have happened if Gore had been elected president and how different the country would look. Our votes matter, and this is one of the greatest examples of the impact each vote can have.

So why are young people not voting?

The U.S. Census Bureau found that “scheduling conflict” was the main reason. Other reasons included “no interest,” “out of town” and “forgot.”

These reasons should not deter us from taking part in elections.

With the upcoming presidential election and very important Iowa caucuses, now is one of the best times to get informed and get involved.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are just a few of the big names running for the 2016 presidency, and each one has different philosophies. Every candidate has different ideas that could benefit or harm you in future years.

Since these candidates are adults, they don’t necessarily know what the best decisions are for college students. Our needs as students won’t be addressed unless we vote. With more than 45 million millennials, we could easily swing an election.

Our vote can help elect a politician who shares beliefs on environmental issues, foreign policies and the social agenda. If we don’t vote, we are leaving the future of this country in the hands of someone who doesn’t necessarily care about the issues our generation cares about.

I too often hear people complain about how poorly of a job President Obama has done, or how members of Congress are only looking out for themselves. This has become a common occurrence in today’s society, but we have no right to complain unless we actively try to do something about it.

If you don’t vote, don’t complain. By not voting, you are letting everyone else decide who is in charge of your future. You are letting them decide the direction of this country, and those decisions will drag you along with.

But if you do vote, you are adding your input. You can help shape the future of this country, no matter who you align your beliefs with. In the next decade, you will live a new chapter of your life. Once you realize it, you have the power to determine the outcome.

Don’t be a hypocrite and complain about what you don’t like. If you don’t like something, vote for a change.

You have just one voice, but when enough voices are put together, a movement is created. Voting is one of the greatest privileges we have as American citizens, so don’t waste it because it can make a difference.