By Cameron Pierre-Pierre
In America, we are taught about how sacred of a right voting is. From the Women’s Rights movement of Susan B. Anthony to the Civil Rights Movement of Martin Luther King Jr., the importance of voting is instilled in us from a young age. It is frankly the best way for us to express ourselves in a political system that is dominated by the wealthy and powerful. With all of that said, there are a few problems with what I will call our “Voting Culture.”
Problem one is that not everyone is registered to vote. When I turned eighteen years old I received a letter in the mail. This letter basically told me that because I was eighteen and that I had to sign up for the draft. So like any good American young man I signed up for a draft that I would never get called for. I basically had no choice but to sign up. Now doesn’t it seem strange that in a “democracy” that emphasizes voting as a right, that I am expected upon becoming an adult to register to potentially go to war, but I have to go out of my to register to vote.
Why can’t voter registration be the same way? You turn eighteen, you get a letter in the mail and you have two weeks to reply. Easy. It almost seems like the powers at be don’t want everyone to be registered to vote. That maybe it works to their advantage, whomever they may be, to have less people registered to vote. This is all speculation of course but it’s certainly food for thought.
Now my next problem is one that I find particularly frustrating. Problem two: we only focus on the President, and Congress is viewed as an afterthought. The House of Representatives is meant to represent our individual communities on a federal level. The Senate represents our States on the federal level. The President represents all of the interests of the nation on a domestic and international level. We have to pay attention to all three. We have gotten to this weird point where it seems like we want a free society where everyone is created equal, yet every four years we elevate an individual to near god-like status. We blame the President when there are not enough jobs. We praise the President when there are more jobs. If something goes wrong it automatically means the President is incompetent, and when it goes right the President is our biggest hero. While we are all so obsessed with what the President is doing, we ignore Congress. This is no longer sustainable. We need to hold our entire government accountable. We have the power to vote out our representatives every two years, and our senators every six. Yet mid-term elections, when many members of Congress are elected, have low voter turnout.
It is time we as a nation sat down and had a conversation about our voting culture. Having more people vote is by no means going to change our society overnight. It is a place to start though. At least with higher voter turnout and participation, we will have a more accurate representation of what the people in this country feel. Are we more liberal, conservative, centrist or something totally different perhaps? We need to start voting in a way that shows politicians that we are paying attention. If we don’t try, nothing will ever change, and we will have nobody to blame but ourselves.