Professor Vincent Jones: "Why Vote, Anyway?"
If you are like most of us, tired of the political bickering, sick of the turmoil, and convinced that a single vote does not matter, then don’t vote.
Republicans, Democrats, Independents—politicians are all the same, and voting isn’t going to change anything—right? After all, with the economy booming, unemployment at historic lows, and consumer confidence at a robust rate, why not leave politics to politicians?
If this represents your point of view, now is not the time to contemplate the historical sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage, and the freedoms intentionally carved into the Constitution. If this is what you believe, now is not the time to consider how fragile our Republic truly is, nor the value of a healthy two-party system that offers a vibrant independent alternative.
Voting is an opportunity for everyone to participate in our political system. We all can participate in determining the future of health care and immigration, we all can decide if Russia will be allowed to continue to meddle in our democracy without repercussions. This is the time to assess whether the concept of a separation of power in government will remain, or if all power will reside in the Executive (Presidential) Office. All these issues are so unnecessarily problematic, and it seems easier to simply not vote.
But if you, like me, are concerned about the future of this country, and if you, like me, are interested in preserving the rights of all of us and creating a seat at the table for the least of us. If you want to hold accountable those who would speak for us, then there has never been a better time to vote! Never in modern history has there been a time and an opportunity for all of us to participate in something truly great and monumental. Important decisions are going to be made and generations will look back on these times and judge what we have done. What we do over the next few weeks will be judged by generations to come and we will either be congratulated or convicted by the legacy we leave.
Those of us who vote are being given the opportunity to affirm the concept of a free unfiltered press, (and to decide whether that press will be loosed or restrained, investigative or controlling), to determine the rights of women, to decide if Black Lives Matter, to insist that workers be provided a living wage, and to decide if we as a nation believe in science and the impact of global warming.
All of these questions will be decided in the upcoming and future elections—with or without us. If you want to be part of the solution, then by all means, vote.
The choice is always yours.
The author is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice. Illinois primary elections will be held on March 20, 2018, and on May 8 in Indiana. To register to vote in the state of Illinois, visit ova.elections.il.gov. In Indiana, visit indianavoters.com.