Why Every Election Matters

I’ve been hearing a lot of rhetoric in the past few days about how important the 2020 election is. Voter turnout, so far, has skyrocketed, and many elected officials, celebrities, and corporations are emphasizing the importance of the election this year.. It is said that “the vote this year really matters”.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the fact that this election is important; what I do disagree with is the idea that this election is “more” important than others. What exactly about this election qualifies it as a more pivotal election than those that came before it? 

Is it that it’s a presidential election? That is a common trend in American politics: presidential elections, because of their higher visibility, often have a higher turnout. Ideally, however, that wouldn’t be the case: people should be turning out to vote for Congress and other state positions as well. The role of the President is pivotal; but at the end of the day, it is Congress and state legislatures that pass the laws that govern us. 

Is it the fact that our country is facing unprecedented turmoil? Coronavirus, climate change, race relations, the economy… there’s a lot at stake right now. However, claiming that these issues make this election “more important” than previous elections is a flawed way of thinking. If someone is unhappy with the way Congress or the President has handled the current issues, then the best time to vote would have been in the last election; this way, people would have had the opportunity to stop these people from ever gaining power in the first place. You should vote when things are going well: when the economy is up, for example- because by the time things go bad, you’re already too late. 

It really is amazing that Americans are coming out to vote in such large numbers in this election, producing one of the largest voter turnouts in history. However, this sort of turnout should be the norm, not the exception. In a democracy, citizens have a civic obligation to vote, to make their voices heard, so the leaders are people they truly want representing them. If you had a chance to vote and passed it up, do you really have a right to complain about the current leaders of the country? 

This election is important; I’m not denying that. But so is the next one, and the next one after that. Every single election gives us a chance to improve the country in which we live, and to determine the future path that our nation will take. Surely, there’s no cause more noble than that.