After three presidential debates and seemingly never ending coverage, November has finally arrived. The political cycle has spun us out and exhausted most of us. Out of the typhoon, we’ve been given the two major parties’ candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and third-party risers, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.
None of these candidates are millennial snake charmers like Senator Bernie Sanders, but nonetheless it is important that we get out and vote in this year’s election.
However, this has proven to be a struggle for our generation. According to The Washington Post, “less than 20 percent of citizens under the age of 30 voted in the 2014 midterm elections.”
Campus groups have engaged in multiple efforts to increase millennial turnout during the election, setting up booths to educate passersby on politics, registering students to vote and providing a comfortable environment for discussion and disagreement.
However this does not address the biggest reason that millennials have the lowest turnout rate than any other generation: We lack hope. We believe our vote won’t matter.
But it does. The direction of this country is influenced directly by who we vote for. We have the right to have our voices heard, to shape how our government operates. Without the vote, we do not have a voice.
Sanders was able to mobilize young voters in a way that has not been seen in years and cannot be replicated by any presidential candidate on the ballot. During the primaries and caucuses, he earned over two million votes from voters under 30 years old, while Clinton and Trump combined for only 1.6 million.
We trusted him, and that trust came through his lifetime of fighting for all people and their rights. There were no scandals, and nothing he said felt insincere and manufactured, which is a rare sight in the field of politics.
He gave us hope, but he couldn’t secure the Democratic nomination. Instead, we have Clinton, who still garners millennial support but has notably flip-flopped on issues throughout her career, including her stance on gay marriage.
While both major party candidates have avid supporters, many citizens are disappointed with the candidates. College students are no exception. Millennials that already believe that there is no reason to vote are not going to change their mind when they cannot get excited about the candidates. Many feel that they are choosing from the lesser of two evils, or there is simply no reason to vote because we are young. Issues such as healthcare, police brutality, economic growth and reproductive rights still affect us, despite our age.
Even though you may be dissuaded from voting by the lack of a quality candidate in the presidential election, go to the polls anyway. There are many other races on the ballot that matter, and they matter just as much as the presidential one. Vote for county engineer, state senator and House representative. Vote for sheriff and numerous judges. Those are the people who impact your community the most, whether it be Cleveland or your hometown. And please, do your research on the candidates. At least type their name into Google and see what comes up. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn.
Whether you decide to be “With Her” or you want to “Make America Great Again,” make sure your voice is heard this election. Go out and vote on Nov. 8. The future of the country is up to us.