Voting is a ‘civic duty’

Christian Gonzalez/ Staff Writer


Legally becoming an adult is a mixed bag of benefits and costs. Perks include the capability to sign contracts under your own name, buy tobacco products and imprint tattoos upon your flesh. At 18, you are required to occasionally attend jury duty and, if male, sign up for the draft.

And, of course, you finally receive access to the franchise.

Unfortunately, the millions of newly-minted voters this election cycle find themselves faced with two ghastly candidates from which to choose.

British writer Peter Hitchens was once faced with what he perceived as a similar situation in the United Kingdom. Disgusted with the potential options at the time —pseudo-conservative David Cameron on one side and leftists committed to mass migration on the other, the Labour Party— Hitchens said he’d prefer not to vote. If he was taken to a grocery store which only sold rotten produce, he explained, why should he be forced to buy anything at all?

The analogy, apt as it is at describing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, can only be taken so far. We don’t have another American democracy; Hitchens could presumably do his groceries elsewhere. One of these two people will become the occupant of the White House and there is realistically nowhere else for us to turn to in 2016.

This fact, sad and true though it may be, doesn’t mean we should forsake voting altogether.

First, there are other things on the ballot. Representatives and senators are up for re-election this year, including Marco Rubio in Florida. Popular referendums are also in order. Even if unpersuaded by the arguments for Trump or Clinton, these are other matters calling out for attention.

To refuse to vote is to deny yourself a voice in government and a stake in the country’s future.

But there is also another reason we shouldn’t take voting for granted: it is a civic duty. Refusing to vote in a democratic society makes a mockery of the billions of people worldwide who don’t have a voice in the governance of their nation.

In some cases, exercising the franchise has become a matter of life and death.

Afghan and Iraqi voters braved bullets and bombs from Al-Qaeda thugs determined on squashing their fledgling democracies. People showed up to cast their ballots despite the violence.

The United States was not immune from such struggles. For many years, black voters were effectively suppressed by the Klan’s vicious racists and the South’s shameful poll taxes and literacy tests. The fairer half of the country was unable to vote until 1920.

These anti-democratic practices only ended as a result of suffragettes and civil rights activists. It’s a disservice to such people as Martin Luther King Jr. to skip out on the vote with all this in mind.

Being an adult requires making difficult decisions, and choosing between Caligula and the female reincarnation of Pinocchio surely constitutes a tough choice. There are also other candidates running for president if voting for either Trump or Clinton too flagrantly violates your conscience.

But exercising the right to vote is not a tough choice. It’s an easy one. Don’t take the franchise for granted.




The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Image retrieved from Flickr.

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