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Civic Duty

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Civic Duty

Blythe Hattenbach, Staff Reporter

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Many in our country think that they can sit back and watch as our country’s democratic system plays out before them as though they are watching a favorite movie or a not particularly well-liked sitcom depending on the election at hand. In their eyes, sitting and watching is all their involvement should be since anything more would not make a difference anyway. If the last few election cycles have taught us nothing else, however, it is that our vote, and by “our vote” I am especially referring to the votes of this country’s young people, mean an extraordinary amount. And that sitting back and watching is no longer an option.
As a nation, voter turnout is largely lacking. During the last 2016 presidential election only 60% of the eligible voting population cast their ballots. This already low percentage significantly drops to 40% for midterm elections. These numbers show that the decisions being made by our democracy are representative of the opinions of considerably less than half of this country’s population, let alone those eligible to vote. Local teacher and political activist, Lula Guilbert, commented on the midterm elections that occurred just a short week ago stating, “There was so much energy going into the midterms by volunteers who called, canvassed, and donated time and money and energy. In the end though, it was the people who took time to vote that really made the difference.”.
And, increasingly, it is the voice of young people who are influencing more and more of the political issues of the country today. It wasn’t until 1971 when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and the younger generation was given the ability to have an active role in our country’s political system. This was largely thanks to a politician named Jennings Randolph who attempted 11 times from 1942-1971 to pass into federal law Amendment 26 lowering the voting age. He believed in this cause so strongly because in his words, “They [young people] possess a great social conscience, are perplexed by the injustices in the world, and are anxious to rectify those ills.” Despite all of Randolph’s work, given the opportunity to vote most of the younger population ignore this privilege. In the 2016 presidential election, only an estimated 23.7 million young voters participated; this is only 50% of the citizens from the ages 18 to 29 in the United States.
“We are the future. We are being handed this country. It is important that we are aware of what is truly going on so that we can better understand what to do with our democracy when we inherit it;” stated passionately by fellow Green Mountain student and activist Alex Orford. Before we know it, the responsibility will fall on us to decide the direction in which our country and our world will go. Our fate is in our hands. Voting is the one way we can control the fate of this country.

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About the Writer
Blythe Hattenbach, Staff Reporter

Blythe Hattenbach is a junior at Green Mountain High School and is a staff reporter for The Ram Page. Outside of school, Blythe enjoys playing soccer,...

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