Did you hear the horrible news? Republicans have taken over the Senate. I woke up this morning, checked my phone (like every other 21-year-old who's addicted to technology) and had a New York Times notification. It read: "Riding Wave of Discontent, G.O.P. Takes Senate." As a Latina with pretty liberal views, I was not happy to read that. Sure, recreational marijuana passed in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia. That's awesome not only because the obvious reasons but also because minorities are now free from the War on Drug's chains in these states. However, that good green news isn't enough to help me from feeling blue.
All I can think is, "Damn, I should've voted yesterday."
Yes, I was part of the estimated more-than-half of voters who didn't vote. And quite frankly, I'm ashamed — as should any other American who didn't turn out to vote yesterday. I could list a million excuses. A few, and honest few at that, would include my 14-hour workday with back-to-back classes and meetings, lack of transportation, uncertainty whether I'm even registered to vote in New York state with my having registered in California while I was there, and just not knowing much about this midterm election. But excuses are just that. Excuses. And they're embarrassing.
Thanks to the many irresponsible Americans like myself, President Barack Obama is in a shitty situation. Most of these irresponsible Americans happen to be like me. Millennials, we're called. As Google defines us: "a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Yer." An NBC News national exit poll showed that millennials were nowhere to be found. Only 12 percent of voters were younger than 30. Ouch, that's mad old people though.
This makes me feel even shittier.
To make it worse, Mother Jones pointed out what would've happened if millennials would've turn out to vote. (It's weird that so many of us didn't with Rock the Vote's "Turn Out For What" music video featuring Lil Jon coming out earlier this year.) The majority of young people in Republican-winning states like Iowa and Colorado voted blue, but because so few voted, red took over.
Young Americans like myself need to take a stand. We have so much power that we take it for granted. We forget what's in our hand. We forget what beautiful privileges we have in this country, privileges other countries can only dream of. Sure, most candidates suck anyway. I mean, if you're going to be a politician, you're probably at least 40 percent a bad person. (Sorry if you're a politician reading this. Nothing personal, dude.) But a wise professor told me today, "If you have a horrible candidate and a not-so-great candidate, at least go for the not-so-great one. Because if you don't, the horrible one wins!"
Valid point, Luke. Valid point. (Luke, by the way, is the wise professor.) I learned the hard way this year that my vote does matter, and it makes an incredible difference. It's not an easy task for a busy college student to keep up with politics (local and national), but it's more than a task — it's a duty. We live in the United States of America for fuck's sake.
We gotta' get off our asses.
And if you didn't figure it out yet, I'm mostly talking to myself.
Photo courtesy of Flickr // Theresa Thompson