Why Voting Matters

I have to admit that over the past eighteen months, I have taken the easy way out. I have refused to believe that anything good has or could ever come out of Donald Trump winning the November 2016 election. I knew it was true that more people were politically active than ever before (even myself). I knew more women and minorities were running for office. I knew that more people were having dinner table conversations about issues that interested them and angered them, and I knew that there was a heartbeat again in our country; as faint as it was two years ago, I’ve felt it swell and swell into a sound that is impossible to ignore.

To me, however, it always felt like the costs outweighed the benefits. Rollbacks on human rights, overhyped tax cuts, an increase in hate crimes, the appointment of an accused sexual abuser to the Supreme Court, misogyny and bigotry galore – none of it seemed like it was a price worth paying. I have always been the first to jump into a political conversation (or argument!), but the fatigue I’ve felt creeping up on me especially in the last 7 or 8 months has nearly grown stronger than my interest and passion in the subject. So I let the Trump administration get to me, clearly. I let it make me feel like it didn’t matter that people were excited or angry or motivated, because the ‘silent majority’ was no longer staying silent and their shrill, racist, xenophobic voices were replaying over and over in my head. I let them make me believe that things might not really get better. I let them make me believe that we have less in common than I originally believed. I let them make me believe that this is who America is, deep down.

All of that might still be true, but I can’t even believe I’m writing this: I’m not ready to give up yet. I’ve lowered my volume, but I’ve improved my arguments. I’ve read more articles, had more conversations, and written more in the last two years than ever before. I’ve called my representatives and senators (and incurred many international calling costs). I have marched in protest. I have helped others register to vote. So if this is the change that the Trump administration has brought out in me, I have to admit that I welcome it. I have felt so tired for so long, so unprepared for the days and months ahead, that it just didn’t seem worth it. But as the midterm elections creep closer, I know that all of the hard times in the past two years were preparing me—preparing us—for this monumental moment in our nation’s history.

There is a heartbeat in America, growing louder each day and refusing to be silenced. It is the voices of women who will never give up control over their own bodies. It is the screams of children separated from their parents and put in cages. It is the footsteps of the millions of people who have marched down the streets of America, over and over, day after day, for their own rights but also for the rights of others; selfless footsteps taken in the brutal cold and boiling heat. I am so inspired by the actions of others that I can scarcely express it here. What sets us apart – those of us who did not vote for him or this administration, who would never vote for anyone associated with him – is that we are trying to build a future better for all of us, not just some of us. That is always what’s set us apart. That is what has made us unbeatable. There is a relentlessness in us now. There is an ocean in us now. There is a movement in us now.

I can’t say for certain yet that it has been worth it all. It has been, without a doubt, overwhelmingly beautiful at times and at others so dark and violent I didn’t know how to get from one day to the next. But on November 6th, we have a chance to make it worth it. We have a chance to vote for candidates who will stand up to the Trump administration and those who appease it. We have a chance to exercise our democratic right to vote and to make our voices heard. We owe it to ourselves not to let the days of marching and the hours of tense conversations be for nothing. We owe it to future generations to set an example: stand up for what is right in the face of what is wrong. Voting is the single most important way to make impactful change. Electing representatives in your state who are progressive, inclusive, and open-minded is the best way to see change not only in your own personal life, but in the lives of others around you. Change begins in the voting booth, and we cannot afford to let this important moment pass us by, not again, not after everything we’ve fought for.

The election is just under two weeks away. Many voter registration deadlines have passed, but some still haven’t. You can vote from abroad, and many states’ offices will email your ballot to you (you’ll still have to mail it in though, so if you’re not in the US, get on that now). I am so, so proud of all we’ve accomplished over the past two years but this is certainly the boiling point: the time to prove that we’re not all talk, no action—in fact, we are just the opposite.

Here are some helpful links about voting, done better and more concisely than I could ever hope to do myself:

  • Vote Save America gives you the rundown of what’s at stake in your state in a clear, comprehensive manner.

  • Flippable is a fantastic resource dedicated to “electing progressives to state government,” which is crucial in regaining control of the House and Senate.  

  • Rock the Vote is a classic, focusing on voting rights and how to make sure you or others aren’t turned away at the polls.