Opinions & Editorials

Value your vote: Midterm elections matter

If it’s an even-numbered year, that means it is election time. The midterm elections have candidates for local and federal offices criss-crossing respective districts in hope of winning our vote this November. Before you think of voting or politics and begin to get cynical, let me offer some advice.

America is a representative democracy. Citizens forget that, in order for our union to remain strong and meet its challenges effectively, citizens need to vote.

Outside of presidential election years, people rarely see the importance of voting for local representatives or federal officials because the electoral process lacks the enthusiasm and razzle-dazzle of a presidential race. In truth, every election is highly important, but non-presidential years often carry more importance for the day-to-day order of government.
Think about all the issues the American electorate has voiced concerns about in recent months: taxes, immigration, road projects and quality education. These issues will not be decided by the President or even Congress alone, but in conjunction with elected officials in city halls and state legislators across the country.

Data shows that in the 2010 midterm elections, a depressing 37 percent of voters came out to vote. Contrast this to the 84 percent of Scots who recently voted on their referendum to separate from the U.K., and you will wonder who truly represents democracy better.
I am passionate about voting because I understand that my generation needs to hit the ground running to be successful in the future. A majority of us will enter adulthood plagued by mounds of college debt, rising levels of income inequality and a political system that passes as dysfunctional on a good day.

Aside from our domestic woes, Americans need to vote in order to be a proper model of democracy for international onlookers.

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Jonathan Hogue is a junior Philosophy, Politics & the Public major from Aurora, Ill.

America will often cite the need to expand democracy as a reason to intervene in conflicts overseas. We internationally purport that every citizen’s input is necessary to the democratic process, while domestically less than half of the electorate will vote or even participate in the civic debates that keep our union strong.

Policy with the input of few has little chance to effectively improve society as a whole. So no matter what disengaged citizens may want to believe, hypocrisy and ignorance move us nowhere.

To sum up my advice: If you have a pulse, are at least 18 years old and are a U.S. citizen, do yourself a favor and vote this Nov. 4.

Our problems were not created by themselves and will not be fixed by us simply ignoring them. I implore you to vote, review your leadership and help better your community if you care about the place you call home.

If what I’ve said sounds too rosy, look at it this way: If you hate politics and politicians, you cannot complain about a system in which you did not participate.

Bad politicians are elected by good people who do not vote. So all good people, I expect to see you at the polls this election day. Happy voting.