Scott Young, Staff Reporter
Often times, particularly among younger generations, people use excuses like “Politics don’t matter to me” or “My vote doesn’t matter” as a reason to not vote. These statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Politics affect your everyday life across a slew of important issues such as student loans, healthcare, taxation, child care and much more. When making the decision not to vote, you are abdicating your voice as an American citizen and choosing to give it to a group with a minority (and possibly dangerous) opinion.
The right to vote for all Americans is one that has been fought for decades. Many have died fighting for a right that several Americans throw in the trash.
In 1964, three men by the names of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner worked for the Freedom Summer campaign to help African Americans in Mississippi register to vote. In an act of civil disobedience, the campaign’s mission was to contest the state’s policies that disenfranchised many African American voters. After being released from the local jail for a traffic violation, the activists were followed around town by a group of Klansmen and law enforcement officers. When they caught up with the three, they beat Chaney to death with chains and then shot both Goodman and Schwerner.
These three men had the courage to go to a volatile place in the Southern United States, anger members of the Klan, and risk their lives, all so that African Americans could have the right to vote. As a result, the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 which outlawed many discriminatory voting practices used in the South.
In 1917, a group of women named the “Silent Sentinels” protested in front of the White House to fight for women’s right to vote. These protests occurred six days a week from January 10, 1917 until June 4, 1919, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, securing women’s right to vote. On one particular night, known as the “Night of Terror”, several women were imprisoned at a Virginia prison known as the Occoquan Workhouse. The superintendent of the prison ordered the women to be beaten, kicked, pinched, and choked. Numerous accounts came out of the prison from women including Dorothy Day who says that her head was repeatedly slammed against the back of an iron bench.
So please, spare me the nonsensical excuses for not voting. When you’re too complacent with government and seem to find every reason to forfeit your civic duty, remember the people who were beaten, kicked, tortured, and even killed to protect a right that many so carelessly squander.
This November 6, regardless of your party or which candidates you plan to support, honor those that bled and died to give you the right to vote. Go out and elect candidates that represent your values and can affect meaningful change in your community.