The 2020 presidential election is November third. My seventeenth birthday is November fourth. The first time I will be able to vote for a presidential candidate is in the year 2024. It’s clear this country needs changing, but how can I do anything before 2024? What can young people, young women specifically, do to see the nation improve?
Well, much to my dismay, I believe the honest answer is to vote. But, you don’t need to be eighteen to take action on this reality. While you cannot change your voting abilities, you can and in fact you should, encourage others to exercise their constitutional right to vote. I know far too many citizens who do not go to the polls. Not because they are too young or because they don’t care about politics (a claim that seems impossible to me), but because they don’t think their individual voice matters. We live in a country that, in an effort to amplify state power, often softens individual agency. But the electoral college is not an excuse not to vote; it is the reason to vote. If you are unhappy with something in our government, like how we vote, you should elect candidates who promise to rethink the electoral college. We cannot forget the power of our individual voice...for our own sake, the answer to our dissatisfaction cannot be resignation.
As a young woman, the right to vote can feel like our only opportunity to make our historically sexist society more equitable. Why has there never been a female president? Why not a female vice president? When do we start blaming ourselves for a lack of representation in government? Of course you should always vote for the candidate that shares the same political beliefs as you, no matter their gender, I wonder if gender and politics are more intertwined than we think. Being a woman is an inescapable element of my identity; aren’t my political ideologies a product of my womanhood?
This gets to the “I don’t care about politics, I’m not a political person” excuse many people use to justify not voting. As I mentioned earlier, I am always perplexed by these statements. I envy the person that can choose if politics matter to them. This is because most Americans, most women, don’t have the privilege to make this decision. We have to care about politics; there are far too many sexist normalizations in this nation to be overlooked. But if we head to the polls, cast our ballots, perhaps even vote by mail, we have an inalienable opportunity to better our own lives. If each person acted, we might just elect a female president in our lifetime, maybe even two or three, maybe even within the decade.
I hope that for myself, when I finally get to vote for president in 2024, there is a woman on the ticket. With this, I am asking all that can, to vote. If not for me, for your little sister and your daughter. Do not let another generation of strong young women feel as though they are not heard in our government. If not for them, for your mother and your grandmother. They deserve to see the voting system work...we owe it to all the women of the past and of the future to finally be represented in this country. Because I cannot yet myself, I ask that you remember who you are truly voting for.
Nina (16 years old)