Our founding fathers created a nation in which the people could be in control of their own lives, not ruled by a tyrant monarchy across the sea. The democracy they created would have never worked if not for voting. Votes are not just tallies on a screen, they are the voices of your neighbors, your coworkers, and of the friendly strangers who greet you on your morning walk. These voices would not have been heard without the ability to vote; ideas and opinions of citizens meant nothing to a government that refused to hear them. Today, our issues involving voting are much different than what they used to be. Citizens are not using their votes like they used to, and our government cannot hear the voices of those who refuse to vote.
Our votes matter because they allow us to steer our nation down the path we want to follow into the unknown future. Through our votes, we not only determine what our nation will do when in the face of peril and in times of peace, but we also determine our relationships with the rest of the world. As citizens, it is our duty to vote for representatives who will look out for the future of our nation and our world, and it is our duty to replace those who are driven only by greed and power. When we do not vote, corruption and selfishness are allowed to fester within our government until it is nothing but a hollow shell of what it could have been. We are the body and mind of a nation that has been revered for its strength and achievements from the very beginning of our country when Betsy Ross’s flag waved above our newly earned land, and if we as voters do not do our job as the filter between the corrupt and the true, the first of a long line of perilous dominoes will fall, leading to the collapse of our government as we know it.
The United States would not be able to function if not for voting; it is the channel that delivers our voices to not only the people we elected into power, but to the rest of the world as well. The intricate masterpiece of our country would crumble into dust if not for the strong support of the people through their votes and their participation in the government; we the citizens are the foundation that the United States depends on. In order to keep this foundation sturdy, we must be willing to participate and give our input in the ever evolving conversation of what our nation should be doing within and outside of our borders. We as citizens must tell the government what we want in order to receive it. That being said, those who refuse to vote yet complain about the outcome have no valid reason to do so. If you want your voice to be heard you must speak, and we cannot do that when we refuse to use the power to vote which has been long fought to achieve. It is not only a disrespect to the soldiers, activists, and protestors that secured our right to vote, but also to your fellow Americans who do see the value in voting.
Citizens who have not been voting will tell you that their vote does not matter because they are just one in a million, like a drop of water in the ocean. But tell me, what is the ocean made of, if not water? The great reaches of the ocean would become nonexistent if not for all of those seemingly insignificant drops of water. The same could be said about voting; even the weakest of voices can become a deafening roar when working together. Our voices are amplified when we vote, and we can be heard by all. Other non voters will tell you that even if they do vote, they cannot make any change. And I will tell you now that that is wrong. You do not need to win an election or popular vote to make a difference. When you vote you show others that they are not alone in their goals and ideas, which, in time, will build a force so powerful it cannot be destroyed by those who once tried to put it out. The popularity of ideas and goals will never cease to shift with time, and as new problems arise, new ideas will surface as well. Majorities can become minorities and change will happen, but patience and determination are necessary when seeking change.
Our voices will be heard because we are important pieces in the machinery that keeps the United States strong. My vote matters because I matter. Your vote matters because you matter. Our votes matter because we all matter.
About Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen Programs
According to VFW Post 4090 Commander Bill Almy, “The Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen program is the VFW's shining star when it comes to youth activities and programs. Voice of Democracy it's geared for high school level students to write essays and record their essays to be judged and screened at the post level with the opportunity to advance to District, State department and National level for total scholarship of $30,000 in college tuition to the winner at National level.”
The essays are normally two to three minutes long and the topic is chosen by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization each year.
The Patriot Pen essay program is an opportunity for Middle School students to participate in a similar essay program. The topic again is chosen by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization and the prize package is less than Voice of Democracy winners. The Patriot Pen program gives middle schoolers and opportunity to test their skills in the essay program and once they get to high school level participate in Voice or Democracy for greater Rewards.
The Portland Beacon has made arrangements with VFW Post 4090 to publish some of the submissions it received this year. The words, thoughts and ideas shared in the submissions are those of the author.