Opinion: Vote Because You CAN.

From time to time I like to stretch my article-writing muscles. I don't usually post them here, but have decided to share one every once in a while. Hope you enjoy!

When The Vote Doesn't Rock: Embracing Our Rights
by Ashley Johnson

More than ever this election season, I’m seeing my social media feeds light up with a mantra: “I don’t like anyone running, so I’m not going to vote”.

I think about those women in 1920, the Suffragettes, being drug away from rallies and sitting in a jail cell, all so I can get an envelope in the mail full of voting papers addressed to me, instead of just my husband. That’s a spur to my side. No one would take action to initiate a change for future generations if they knew the general consensus of that generation would be “…meh”.
And yet apathy reigns. Lots of industries prey on that apathetic hope; the weight-loss field, for one. People aren’t stupid. We know if we eat right and exercise, weight will come off. It’s a basic fact, and, let's face it, science. And yet pills and shakes and programs and surgeries are more popular than ever… Because we hope that the easy way out will pay off one of these times. We don’t want to put in the work, the time, the effort. We all want that neatly packaged quick fix. And really, is finding the next leader of our country any different? Tell me what you stand for, in a nutshell. If I agree, you get my vote. If I don’t, I’ll just stay here in my comfy bubble.

Those weight-loss success stories though, how do they begin? “I just got off the couch and started walking” or “I just decided to stop drinking soda”. A simple first step that made them better. And that’s how I have to think about my vote this time around. 

Sometimes, choosing whomever you deem the lesser of two evils is the only way to move forward. Did the suffrage movement happen because women were passionately for or against James M. Cox? Did Warren Harding ignite the need to rally in the streets? No. But it was time - past time - for a move to be made. The fiery, fearless women who made it also made history. Who am I to look askance at that? Someone somewhere decided to tell her friend her thoughts on women getting the right to vote, and the step was taken.
Am I thrilled with my options this election year? Solidly, nope. But taking a step toward deciding who I like less is still a step. Casting my vote for that person, another. Right now, I have to rest in the knowledge that the steps might be hard to take, not exactly the direction I thought, and definitely not an easy choice, but at least I’m moving. I refuse to be a part of this movement of ‘meh’. For my country, for the women before me, and for myself. And I hope you do the same.