Find that political fire and let it burn

Jessica Barnett


Photo by Braxton Maclean.

Photo by Braxton Maclean.

I voted in my first presidential election in 1996. I was 8 years old. Some of my classmates decorated signs to hang on the back of their chairs or wore stickers on their shirts and backpacks. I didn’t know who any of the candidates were, except that one had the same name as a banana. The girl in front of me had a Clinton sign, so when it was time to vote, I picked him. 

It was the most attention I paid to an election or politics until I turned 20.

I registered to vote because I was bored in a courthouse and the paperwork was sitting in front of me. I lost the card within days of its arrival, and I never bothered to change my registration until last year. I have never voted before now.

Why? Multiple reasons. I didn’t think my vote mattered. I didn’t like the candidates. I didn’t think anything would ever really change. In fact, no matter who won, it seemed like everybody would complain about him. Then, if you tried to relate by also complaining, people expected you to have a Ph.D. in the issue before you were allowed to have an opinion. 

It was much simpler to just ignore it all, so that’s what I did. I didn’t pay attention, I didn’t vote, and I didn’t complain.

Then something happened. I realized that I did care about the issues, but the issues weren’t being fixed because I didn’t care enough to actually do anything about it. 

Unfortunately, I do only have one vote. However, I know lots of people with similar views, and they each have one vote, too. If we pool all of these votes together, we might have a chance. If we talk to everyone else we know with similar views and a vote, and they add their votes to ours, then we definitely have a chance. 

We could raise our voices and alert as many people as we can to the issues we find important. We can find a candidate we like and put all of our votes together to get them in office or we can find a candidate we don’t like and put all of our votes together to keep them out of the office. Either way, my one vote can join yours and millions of others to become the change we need in our lives.

Now, I am not naïve enough to think that it ends there, and I hope that you are not, either. Whoever makes it to the Oval Office is going to need senators and representatives to back them up. If we care enough to want change, we need to care enough to take action and make that change happen.

Find the issues that spark the most fire within you. Find people who also feel that burn. Find a candidate who is willing to do what you think it takes. Then cast your votes and get them in office. When mid-terms come around, do the same and make sure POTUS has the team he or she needs to get the job done.

Remember: we are not here to just see change in the short-term. This is a vote for you as much as it is a vote for your generation and the generations before and after you. Make it count.