You have likely heard all of it already: “Candidates don’t need to be perfect,” “Biden and Harris are at least better than Trump,” “choose the lesser of two evils,” and so on and so forth. Maybe you’re still not convinced to vote. Maybe, likely, the first presidential debate left you feeling hopeless. Or maybe you plan to vote but are far from thrilled about your options.
Let me be the first to say: I agree that voting is neither the beginning nor the end to enact systemic change. It will not fix everything that is wrong with 2020. That said, voting is an essential component of cultivating change. We, the people, hold the power to flip seats, turn around elections and take back the power. We need to get out the vote (GOTV).
If you are a citizen and have decided not to vote in this election, let me implore you to recognize not only your sheer privilege in being able to vote but in actively making the decision not to vote. This is a privilege hundreds of thousands of individuals do not share. If not for you, vote for them. If not out of enthusiasm for Biden/Harris, at least for your incredible state and local candidates. Indeed, you should continue to criticize candidates and demand better from them, but do not confuse constructive criticism with refraining from voting or telling others it’s okay not to vote.
[Read Related: 6 Ways to Make Sure Your Vote Counts]
It is incredibly easy to become desensitized to Trump’s consistently racist, misogynistic, homophobic and generally problematic actions. I am guilty of this myself. But let me take you on a walk down memory lane of some of Trump’s many horrible actions: enacting the Muslim ban, quitting the Paris Climate Agreement, banning transgender individuals from the military and, oh, directing white supremacists to “stand by.” See here for an extensive catalog of his horrors.
Many of my loved ones are Dreamers, on student visas, or hold other immigration statuses, and are suffering through the daily rollercoaster caused by the President’s flippant decisions. Speaking from personal knowledge through my law school’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, I became privy to multiple clients who have been negatively impacted by Trump’s policies. Many of them would give anything to vote. So I implore you to recognize your privilege and GOTV.
If I may add, many of you know that elections are not won simply through one’s individual decision to vote. Winning elections requires canvassing, phone banking, using social media to share voting information, encouraging your family and friends to GOTV and simply, sheer enthusiasm. You do not need to be over the moon about the Biden/Harris ticket. But, if you are eligible to vote and/or can help out with any campaign, federal, state, or local, please do. You can get involved here, here and here.
The soul of our nation is at stake in this election. Although it might seem like things cannot get any worse with Trump, I assure you, they can. Register to vote, canvass and phone bank for your favorite candidates., Most importantly, actually vote, GOTV and call on others to do the same.