This year, the focus is on voting. Every news outlet in the world has banners on their homepages showing users how to register to vote. Businesses are encouraging shoppers to vote via commercials, advertisements and displays. The internet is overflowing with tips, notices and continuous reminders to vote.
Voting has always been a cornerstone of democracy. Many Americans have worn their “I Voted” stickers every four years like clockwork. Yet, the recent influx in voting advocacy represents a shift in our nation’s psyche.
This is because many of these messages are aimed at younger voters.
In the past, young adults may not have voted due to uncertainty over the process or the candidates. Now, many companies, websites and businesses are encouraging younger voters to utilize their rights as residents of this country, regardless of who they end up voting for in the end.
On one hand, introducing the idea that young adults should vote, even if they aren’t completely sure of their decision, is revolutionary. Young adults are a major part of our nation’s population and their opinions should be considered, even if they are not as confident in their beliefs when compared to older voters.
However, encouraging young people to vote when they are not completely sure comes with consequences.
Many younger voters may reach out to family, friends or other advisory figures to determine if they made the “right” decision. Many younger voters may be subject to the influences of older voters. Sometimes, it may be as innocent as receiving information about the candidates from a trusted, but potentially biased, source.
When this directly influences how a younger voter casts their ballot, younger voters do not actually have a say. They are merely parroting the opinions of the previous generation without thinking critically about what they want from our nation’s leader.
Therefore, I encourage all new voters to take advice from family and friends with a grain of salt.
It is important to consider the opinions of those close to you when making a major decision. However, it is also important to remember that everyone around you has individual experiences or goals. This may lead them to make a different decision or prioritize different aspects of leadership.
Instead of deciding to simply vote for whomever your parents or friends are voting for, make a conscious effort to form your own opinions. Watch news segments from multiple sources. Research the issues that are important to you. Watch the presidential and vice-presidential debates with and without commentary. Research the political processes of other nations and determine what you like and dislike about those countries. Read books, listen to podcasts and watch shows from commentators that claim to be unbiased. Do the same for clearly biased commentators, and analyze their arguments.
As voters, we owe it to our nation to make this decision to the best of our ability, free of outside influence.
So, regardless of who you vote for come Nov. 3, remember to make that decision wholeheartedly, based solely on your own convictions.