Many of us tuned in to Sunday night’s debate to hear the candidates’ plans for the country’s future, which inevitably affects our futures and economic potential. Millennials have played a critical role in shaping the 2016 political landscape. I’m proud that my generation refuses to be silent about their priorities; we’ve seen young people voice their views on social media, and in political rallies, forums and town halls. However, drumming up strong feelings isn’t enough. We need to also exercise our right to play a real role in this election. After all, Millennials have just as much voting power as Baby Boomers. But before we run to the voting booths in November, we need to register first.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been on college campuses asking students if they are registered. I’ve been pleased to learn that many are registered, but the few that aren’t usually follow up with a statement like “my vote doesn’t count.” This is understandable. Many Millennials are disgruntled by this current election period, and want to see their priorities reflected more in the candidates’ policies. But not liking a candidate or being apathetic cannot deter young people from participating in our country’s political process.
When you forfeit your right to make decisions about your life, you are inadvertently let others make choices for you. If you aren’t satisfied with the actions of politicians, that’s even more reason to get involved. Registering to vote doesn’t have to end with national elections. Get involved with local politics, where change directly impacts communities.. It’s a great personal disservice if you put your health care, education, the future of your financial security in another’s hand without making your voice heard.
Our generation cannot afford to distance ourselves from it all. If you sat out on National Registration Day, get out of your seat and register today. It’s simple, and only takes a few minutes. I challenge young people across the nation to register before the third debate between our candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Don’t just watch the debates and elections. Be a part of the process.
Jemima Osei-Hwedie is a campus fellow with New Virginia Majority, and double-majors in Economics and Geography at James Mason University.