Be sure to vote

Since the United States declared independence in 1776, there have been numerous movements to return the right to vote to citizens disenfranchised on the basis of their wealth, religion, race, gender and age. Despite the ever-ongoing efforts to restrict voting rights, those rights have become significantly more inclusive.
The increase in the youth vote and the smaller gap between black voters’ turnout rate and white voters’ turnout rate in the past presidential election demonstrate the growing public interest in national politics.
However, a 2013 survey from Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows public trust in government was 19 percent, almost the record low for post-2008 America. Many people blame the government for national affairs, yet less than 60 percent of the voting-age population cast their vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to the United States Elections Project, George Mason University.
We believe Americans have to start taking the responsibility of making national decisions through their votes on issues and elected representatives.
A bigger concern is to make sure America is not the “land of the free” where people vote for matters they do not understand. A well-informed electorate, one that is able to change its opinions after receiving facts, is the most important factor in democracy.
With the development of various media platforms, the modern public is constantly bombarded with information delivered in a way designed to frame perception. Many news networks have adopted partisan agendas with biases and misinformation to steer the voting public to one extreme or another.
Moreover, people are occupied and fascinated with newsfeeds in which information is instant and bite-sized. People tend to subscribe to media communities whose values and beliefs they generally share. They seek places where they are comfortable and reassured of their assumptions.
With the polarized media and political system, it is becoming increasingly harder for voters to make well-founded, well-rounded judgment calls unless they actively look into the issues being discussed. With the right to vote, Americans have the obligation to do their own research to form their opinions.
We believe people are not entitled to their opinions; opinions should be earned through research, exploration, contemplation and challenges from opposing beliefs.
Voters identifying with one political party do not have to agree with its entire platform. Even though our party system is currently turning Americans against one another, it is important to note that Democrats do not have to oppose a free-market solution and Republicans are not bound to oppose equality and secular education.
Most national issues are not black-and-white, despite political agendas geared toward making them appear so. There is this whole gray area where decisions warrant conditions and limits as to what is right. Americans should exercise their right to vote, and, more importantly, to be able to say when someone they support is crossing the line.
Voters should also understand the inner workings of each agenda: who set it, for what purpose and how it was set, especially through lobbying efforts. Voters should make it their battle to combat political indifference and ignorance.
Another matter Americans should understand before they cast their votes is that the rights of minority groups should not be up for voting. They are rights, not privileges granted to people by the majority. Generally, no Americans are in a position to give other Americans the same civil rights that they enjoy. This is to warrant against the tyranny of the majority in power. What we are seeing is that minority groups are growing in population yet still are grossly oppressed and underrepresented.

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