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On the importance of voting

We aren’t going to convince you to vote. The news is enough to convince you. Instead, we’re going to explain why voting is absolutely necessary.

Democracy gives power to the people—the majority of people, in particular—to vote on who represents them within the government and its many courts and processes.

But money is a big factor in deciding who is in charge, even if it’s not in the majority’s best interest. In this way, people who rise to power, stay in power. And in some cases, it might not even be the specific individual, but rather those who work for them (think Dmitry Medvedev taking presidential power of Russia after Vladimir Putin was term limited in 2008).

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In this way, thanks to powerful lobbyists and shady endorsements, politicians can reap the financial benefits of political power and will often do whatever it takes to maintain said rewards. This happens, of course, regardless of the communities’ or country’s best interests.

Corruption has existed for as long as government has. But we as a nation planned for this corruption. Our founding fathers installed a system of checks and balances, incorporating three branches of government, with the intention of evenly distributing power.

We maintain the freedom of the press to freely display information, especially with the intent of making transparent our system of governance. And, we have given power to the people to decide and influence who is elected.

That power is the power to vote.

Recently, the freedom of the press has been barraged by the executive branch, and not enough people are watching and standing up to this attack. Because our power of the people and our freedom of the press aren’t working in conjunction, politicians are able to operate unchecked, electing corrupted, like-minded representatives into dangerously powerful positions. This leads to heavy authoritarianism and a suppression of basic human rights.

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While there are ways to combat authoritarian rule, these methods are drastic. After a certain point, public unrest—such as riots and revolts to overthrow a government—is the only option to regain societal order.

But before we even consider that path, we must work together to make civil change. Consider the fact that small change now can and will lead to considerable change in the future. The Civil Rights Acts of the past century fundamentally changed how our country rules and what it considers to be citizenship. Most people from the early and mid-1900s likely couldn’t have dreamt that we could change something so deeply ingrained in our society, but we did. We banded together as people—as citizens with a common interest in our country’s future—and took a stand against hate using marches, petitions and boycotts. In essence, we are more powerful in numbers.

But some people feel distanced from the government; often our only direct interaction with the government is the taxes taken from our paychecks. But consider that these taxes are still your money, going to purchase and invest in things for you to use. The government works for you. You pay for its services. If you see something you don’t like, or if you need something, make it happen. You pay the police to protect you. You pay the fire department to extinguish houses. The government is for your benefit. Need more money towards education? Elect people who will invest in it. Start a petition. Rally together. We are the only way to make change.

We can work together to change whatever we desire. That’s the beauty of it. It’s in our constitution to be able to mend and change our laws.

Our defense against fascism and authoritarianism is our freedoms, our ability to vote and our ability to have a free media. When all of these things are lost, the only other way to change the government is through massive action, be it peaceful or not. Will our political unrest require protests and riots? We hope not. The first step: vote.

It’s up to us to spark change, and that change starts with you.

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