Voting is a civic duty bestowed upon all members of the United States when they turn 18 years old. Unfortunately, for many UMaine students their first time exercising this new civic duty will occur in an election where neither candidate was desirable.
Although many students did not prefer either presumptive presidential winner Donald J. Trump or his opponent Hillary Clinton, this paper believes in the fundamental importance of exercising that civic duty. There was more at stake in this election than just the person sitting in the Oval Office. Serious state and federal reforms will occur because of the results of this election. The House of Representatives, Senate, and the Supreme Court stand to shift dramatically.
Refusing to vote because of a personal dislike of the candidates also means refusing to voice your opinion on the future of our country. Just because you do not like the two names at the top of the ballot does not mean you should throw away your opinion on all of the other issues.
Ballot questions in the state of Maine involve consequential issues like the legalization of marijuana, background checks on gun sales, raises to the minimum wage, rank choice voting, and a tax increase on the wealthiest Mainers which would fund K-12 education. These are vital issues that this paper believes will impact the future of the state of Maine. Refusing to vote means you do not want your own opinion to be heard, and you have no preference to how the results will affect you or your fellow Mainers. Not going to vote means turning over your right to complain about the impact.
Changes to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are also important in this election, and should not be overlooked because their names are not as recognizable as Clinton or Trump.
In the next four years, the Supreme Court may be faced with up to four retirements, which means four new lifetime members. The beliefs and policies of those appointed will change the course of America for more than just the next four years. Trump has suggested that he will appoint justices who will restrict access to abortion, while Clinton has said she will appoint justices that will defend it. This controversial issue is just one example what is at stake in the next four years and beyond.
As a voice for college students, this paper believes that the next four years are critical. Whether students are just starting their collegiate journey or are about to leave and start their working life, the results of this election will impact everyone. Students who have just entered college will have their college career shaped by the changes in policies made in Maine and in the country. Results of the Maine State Referendum Question 1 will impact whether or not college students can enjoy recreational marijuana. Question 3 results have the potential to impact student gun access. And that is just at the state level. Nationally, students could look forward to debt-free public education if Clinton wins, or a return to Republican economic policies that predated the Obama administration. These are all choices that can not be ignored because the two biggest names on the ballot are not liked.
Whether you voted for Trump, Clinton, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, or the Green Party’s Jill Stein—this election is going down in history. Choosing not to take part in history means handing over your right to make a difference in your own future.
The promise of a Hillary Clinton victory would have meant the first female president of the United States.
The increasing likelihood of a Trump upset means the United States will be helmed by a man with no previous political experience.
In a starkly divided nation, not everyone believes these choices are equal.
This paper believes that voting is the most important civic responsibility of each and every United States citizen. Voicing your own opinion by filling in circles on a ballot means voicing how you want the nation to run and displays your patriotism.
There is a reason that voting is the most important form of political participation: Not all citizens of this world have this same right.
We should not take it for granted.
Voting is the most direct way citizens control their future. It is a chance for all of us to decide what kind of nation we want to be. No matter the options, the fact is that America needs to choose. Some of you will wake up on Wednesday morning and be dismayed by the news that Donald J. Trump is the next president of the United States.
If this fact bothers you, the question is: What did you do to stop it?