We live in a country whose government is one that is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” At least, that’s what Abraham Lincoln had to say about our government in his famous Gettysburg Address. Time and time again the freedoms of this country have been emphasized in the famous saying “the land of the free.” One of these freedoms is that people are able to choose what they want to change -- new president, new governor, new policies -- by voting. And yet history has shown time and again that many people choose to refrain from voting, to give up their voice.
Granted, living in this “land of the free,” those people are “free” to abstain from voting. This choice, though, will forever be an enigma to me. How does one willingly give up their right to choose, to have a say in what goes on in the country, state, city around them?
My parents moved my family to the United States from Venezuela for a better life. To have the exact freedom in which these people are abstaining from. In Venezuela, citizens no longer get a say in anything. They don’t get to choose where their next meal comes from, when the electricity in their house is going to work, if they’ll be able to walk down the street safely, etc. Much less do they get a say in who their “president” is, or what they want to see changed in their government.
Living in the United States and not being a citizen yet, voting is one of the freedoms I am not yet granted but am most looking forward to. The concept of being able to have a say in the changes that occur, locally in the city and state that I live in, or even in the nation I’m inhabiting is one that many people don’t get to experience. Voting, having a say in what happens where I live, is a luxury I cannot wait to be a part of.
To live in a country with such freedoms means the responsibility to uphold those freedoms. The best way to do that is by voting -- it is a simple, yet powerful act. Many people feel that even by voting their voices aren’t heard, but voting constitutes the fundamentals of our government. In schools, we vote for student government, in counties we vote for mayors and the rules set by the governing board -- rules that can be amended and changed by voting. State-wide we chose a governor, and as seen in the crisis in which we live in today-- who we vote into office drastically affects the outcome of each state, of each situation. In a country more divided than ever, now is the time to vote.
Coming from a country whose inhabitants get no say in anything, it is absolutely mindboggling to me how a citizen of the United States could choose to refrain from their freedom to vote. I’m not talking about voting for one specific party, or one specific person, but rather the simple act of voting. If only one party’s supporters voted, we would have a one-sided government. By voting, all voices become heard, all opinions become shared, and we can work together to make our country better for all who live in it -- including those who don’t get a voice.
By voting, no matter who it’s for, you’re utilizing your most basic right as a citizen, to change the world around you, to shape the country in which you live. As a voter, you are an active participant in your country’s history, in what can change and be better. Voting is one of the easiest ways to show you truly live in the Land of the Free. Coming from someone who can’t wait to vote -- don’t take advantage of the most basic right this country has granted you.
Xx, Valeria Bermudez
Loyola University New Orleans, Alpha Chi Omega