Voting is more than a right, it’s a power

Josh Magnone – Anchor Contributor

“We the people” are the first three words written in the U.S. Constitution. They are large, boldfaced and memorable. I’d like to think that these words were made so large and visible as a purposeful reminder; a reminder of where the true power of our government and elected officials originates from: we the people.

Voting for which people will best represent our interests at local, state and federal levels gives us the power to control who is making decisions on our behalf and allows us to (somewhat) control the public policies and laws that will affect our lives.

I Voted, Photo courtesy of OpenClipart

It is interesting, however, to take a look at the 2016 presidential election where nearly 100 million Americans (approximately 46% of the U.S. population) did not vote. If “we the people” are in charge, why were so many of us apathetic?

Now imagine you’re a low-income family and you don’t like Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, so you decided not to vote. It’s important to note that as a low-income family, you may utilize government subsidies and public assistance programs to afford food, housing or healthcare. Suddenly, Donald Trump wins the election and he and his colleagues want to get rid of (or significantly decrease) programs that assist you. In this instance, you may not have liked Hillary Clinton, however, she wouldn’t have made the same decision to cut some of these programs. Do you regret not voting?

Deciding not to vote is understandable. Choosing which candidates to support gets tricky when you feel like none of the candidates represent your personal beliefs. Here is where you may or may not disagree with me but I believe that even if you don’t like any of the candidates you should still vote. If there are no candidates that you strongly support, you should vote for the candidates that you believe will do the least harm– “damage control,” if you will. It’s not ideal, but whether you like it or not, some of these candidates will become elected officials and they will be making decisions that will impact your life.

For people that don’t know how to vote or who to vote for, there are plenty of resources to help out. www.vote.ri.gov can help a person register to vote and find out when elections are. There are a plethora of other great resources on how to become a more active participant in our political process.

The political process is far from perfect for far too many reasons to list in one article. But that doesn’t mean that “we the people” don’t have the power to enact change. Our founding fathers were bold enough to enact change in their government by way of militias, democratic ideals, and hard work. Let us enact change in ours by promoting active participation in the process, expanding our knowledge, advocating for our beliefs and by showing tolerance and civility towards those with whom we disagree.