Opinion: My first vote will make a difference

Rachael Hudak, Opinions Editor

Art by Tiffany Soe

It is October 29, six days until the Presidential election. In the wake of the chaos that has characterized 2020—a global pandemic, police brutality protests, and an upcoming electionvoting for the first time almost seems pointless, like there is nothing I can do to change the current state of America. But turning 18, following the election process and finding a passion for social justice has motivated me to cast a vote confidently in the 2020 Presidential election.

Coming from a strictly conservative home, it was difficult to develop my own set of political beliefs. Forming my own opinions, listening to liberal political figures or having a political discussion that didn’t leave me silenced at the end of it was rare. I had a narrowed vision of politics wherein my beliefs stemmed from my parent’s point of view. Pro-choice? Unacceptable. Obama? Hard no. Gun control? Certainly not. 

My opinions were formed by one-sided discussions, conversations, and, more often than not, arguments that concerned the current state of the U.S. No matter how the discussion ended, I was always left wanting a clearer explanation to ground my wavering beliefs and opinions in. 

I had enough of listening to only one perspective, so I began to expand beyond what I already knew. I took it upon myself this past year to research and be informed on the 2020 election. I followed past elections, looked at the reforms of successful presidents and developed my own understanding of what is necessary to positively change the course of our country. 

In 2016, for example, I saw a power-hungry businessman rally millions behind him and win the election based on an unfulfilled promise that he would “Make America Great Again” in the next four years of his term. Since that election, it is clear that the line between one’s vote and one’s moral values have become irreversibly blurred. My vote in the November election will define who I am as a person, which terrifies me. People are beginning to cut ties with those who hold a different political stance than them instead of asking questions, they are starting civil unrest instead of engaging in civil discussion, and they are holding to their own political stance instead of trying to understand the backgrounds, beliefs and interests of all people, regardless of any party. 

 Nothing has been more overwhelming in the election process, though, than the two starkly divided political parties themselves. Choosing between two vastly different candidates and therefore, futures for our country is not something to take lightly. With both sides pressuring me to vote for their candidate, whether it be through advertisements, social media, or their supporters, they dismiss my concerns for one candidate while exaggerating the faults of the other. Not to mention that our two candidates couldn’t even hold a civil debate, something that CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer dubbed as “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire.” Trump supporters are called racist, ignorant toward minority groups, and unwilling to wear COVID-19 face coverings, and on the other side of that coin, democrats are labeled radical leftists, abortion supporters, and police abolishers. 

With that said, it is obvious that no matter which color of red or blue that I choose to stand with, there will be dissenting opinions. It is clear that being a silent bystander is no longer an option. With social media and news outlets constantly filling our screens with information regarding the political climate of America, there is no excuse for being unaware. I’ve come to accept that. That is why I am relying on my own research, my own knowledge of conservative and liberal viewpoints, and my own understanding of the political state of our country to choose whose name I’ll bubble in on my ballot. 

Now is a critical time for first-time voters to join in the civic duty of casting a vote. While I resonate with those who choose not to vote, feeling like there is no way to change or contribute to the outcome of the election, I’ve realized that voting is not just about me. It is about those who cannot vote, those who will experience the effects of the president we vote into office, and those who fight for our democracy and still see ineffective people running our country. 

While I’m only one person, my vote will have a direct impact on the future of our country. During such unprecedented times, change is necessary, and that starts with a vote.