Letter to the editor: Election Day, Nov. 8

Democracy, in its literal translation from the Latin word, means rule of the people — yet it rarely feels like the people have control over our politics. A core requirement of democracy is that the population be active participants — otherwise, government does not function based on the will of the people.

It seems commonplace to assume that the government does not and cannot work for us, but a world where politics aims to service the needs of the entire population isn’t far away — we just need to create it. Although voting is not the only way to attain progress, it is still an indispensable one that we must take advantage of with every chance we get.

The importance of voting is especially prominent in the state and local races you’ll find on the second half for your ballot. While national politics receive most of the attention, state and local officials have the largest impact on your day to day life, and your vote is considerably more powerful in those races. Even though they are not the flashiest elections to watch, your district attorney, district judges, city council and school board play an enormous role in the direction of your community.

Moreover, Michigan has three proposals on the ballot this year for term limits and financial disclosure, voting rights and access to reproductive healthcare. If you feel strongly about these issues, which many people do, then casting your vote is vital. Very rarely are we offered the chance to directly shape policy, and this is one of those opportunities.

It is easy to feel discouraged when thinking about politics, especially today in our hyper-polarized political climate. However, democracy can only function if we make it function. Democracy requires an engaged population, one that cares deeply about protecting each other, and if voting accomplished nothing of value, millions of people from prior generations would not have spent so much time ensuring that all of us can vote today.

For the students reading this: one day, this country and its political power will be ours to inherit. It’s time to start making it work for us.

We can rip the world in half with our bare hands if we want to, but we have to want to. Political systems focused on the protection and expansion of our rights won’t come into existence just because it’s ideal — we have to make it happen, and it’ll take all of us.

Democracy requires active participation and a regard for others. If you need a reason to vote outside of your own personal interests, vote for your family, for your friends, for those you care about. If politics and policy don’t directly impact your life, think of someone whose life is impacted and cast a vote with them in mind.

If you need to get registered to vote, find your polling location, find your clerk’s office or anything else, visit mi.gov/vote. Online voter registration closed Oct. 24, so make sure to go in person to your clerk’s office if you still need to register.

Cast your vote on Nov. 8. Polls close at 8 p.m.


Jeremy Johnson

Director of Executive Platform, Oakland University Student Congress