By: Lylah Aikoye
Out of the people who are of an eligible age to vote, only about 61 percent voted in the 2016 election according to the United States Census Bureau. The United States of America trails behind most developed countries in voting rates, which doesn't appear good because American Democracy is supposed to be a role model. Who America chooses in the election says a lot about who we are; choosing to not make a choice says even more. During the former first lady, Michelle Obama’s speech, at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Michelle stated that “being president is hard.” She expands on this, explaining that a president must have clear-headed judgment, a mastery in complex and competing issues, a moral compass, a devotion to facts and history, an ability to listen, and an abiding belief that the 300 million-plus American lives each have meaning and worth. And she's right. These characteristics are all extremely necessary for the leader of a nation to embody if they are to perform effectively. I believe that every person who has the ability to vote should support the candidate that they believe encompasses all of those characteristics-- each characteristic, vital to making America a better place. Presidents have immense power. They have the ability to start wars and to bring peace. Only a responsible leader should have such a position.
Four years ago, way too many Americans believed that their voice didn't matter. Four years ago, I didn't think that a person's vote really mattered, as the popular vote did not end up dictating the candidate who was sworn into office. However, I now realize that this simply isn't true. After listening to Michelle Obama's speech, it opened my eyes to the importance of voting in a presidential election. I now understand the importance of electing a leader who can secure allies, confront climate change, prevent illnesses from becoming a global pandemic, and confront hatred. The lessons I learned from her speech opened my eyes to the fact that leadership is about consolation and empathy, not chaos and division. The people of America need to vote for the person who they believe will unite us and exhibit empathy. A president who understands the struggles of others despite not personally having been through it demonstrates the ability to walk in other people's shoes and value their experiences. Michelle let her listeners know that “As Americans, we need to clear out the noise and fear and open our hearts.” She made it clear that it is necessary to fight for what you believe in, to fight to make sure that your vote counts in the election this November. “Vote like our lives depend on it… with passion and hope,” Michelle exclaimed during her speech. There is no excuse to not vote in this election. Vote early, vote in person, request mail-in ballots, follow up to make sure your ballot was reviewed, then make sure that your family and friends do the same. Michelle stated that “For the election, pack a brown bag dinner, and sack breakfast too because America needs to be willing to stand up all night to vote for who they believe should lead America for the next four years.” Vote based on your own opinion for every proposition on the ballot. Vote on the judges of the superior court for your county. Vote on the district attorney. It is so important that as many people as possible register to vote, and actually go out to the polls this November. If you are 16, pre-register to vote by going to https://registertovote.ca.gov/. We should no longer just say how we feel about how things are run in our country, but do something productive about it. Do it not just for yourselves, but for everyone. If there was one thing that I learned from Michelle's speech, it is that we have to stand tall and fierce against the hatred brought towards us, because “if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me they can; and they will if we don't make a change in this election.”