Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or somewhere in between, politics rule the world around us. From healthcare to taxes, nearly every tenant of our lives revolves around politics in some way. Even with this encompassing nature, there are people who decide to opt out of politics. After every election, it seems as if the number of people who decide that they “couldn’t care less about politics” grows exponentially. Which is fine if you’re privileged enough to do so.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign raised a lot of internet buzz last year, as young people across the country began supporting politics in flocks – or so it seemed. Although the white-haired candidate seemed to have a huge backing online, those numbers didn’t translate to voters heading out to the polls. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials and baby boomers both now make up about 31 percent of the voting population. However, as we saw in the latest election, millennials don’t turn up to vote, while baby boomers do.
This is an underlying sign of privilege that most of us take for granted. Many millennials don’t find personal profit in voting, and therefore choose not to vote. But if you’re not personally affected by a single political issue, you’re probably a robot.
Voting is important and politics are important. You’ve got to be pretty ignorant to think that you’re going to be unaffected by politics, no matter who wins.
For many people, especially minorities, choosing not to vote isn’t an option, because the risks are far too great. If you’re a person with a uterus and you have opinions on whether or not politics should be involved, you’re probably involved in the voting process. If you don’t have a uterus and you want to make that decision, that’s privilege. Rest assured that there are millions of people without a stake in your situation who want to make decisions for you.
Women weren’t always allowed to vote. To shrug off the sacrifices and efforts of suffragettes simply because you’re “not interested” in politics is a slap in the face to those women. To shrug off the fight that minorities waged to gain the right to vote is not only ridiculous, but it’s disrespectful. These groups of people sacrificed so much for the future generations to have voting rights, and to choose not to exercise that right is a step backward.
Being able to say “eh, I think I’ll sit this election out,” is something many people cannot afford to do. The fact of the matter is, if you’re able to opt out of politics, things are probably already going your way.
You may be unaffected by immigration reform, but for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. – according to Pew Research Center – politics are one of the most important things about their lives. Whether you want to smoke weed legally or want to stop a pipeline from taking over native land, politics are evident in your everyday life.
Claiming to have no concern or interest in them is detrimental to the people around you, not just yourself. We have the right to vote because the people who came before us thought it was important for citizens to have a say in the political system that controls the way we live. I don’t often think I’m smarter than George Washington and John Adams, and maybe you shouldn’t either.
Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins