When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The message is cliched and overused, but also a timeless one: when you dislike what you are given, make something else. If lemons are too cliched for you, maybe use something else, like oranges.
When life gives you orange politicians, make a new mindset.
This past month, many of my peers who are turning eighteen have voiced regrets at coming of age too late to participate in election year. Up until this year, I would have agreed with them. However, since starting AP Gov, a certain idea has been drilled into my mind repeatedly and somewhat aggressively: the idea that every year is an election year. The presidential election happens every four years, but congressional elections and local and state position elections are held every November. I will be honest, I had never thought about them.
And neither, apparently, had most Americans. According to Governing Magazine, an average of 20% of the American population votes on non-election years, meaning 20% of our nation is choosing our Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, City Councilmen, State Judges, and Police Chiefs. One fifth of the population makes decisions that affect all individuals. It makes no sense, especially when I hear students and adults alike concerned with how long people have remained in Congress. The argument is valid, seeing as how the longest currently serving congressman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has held his position for 38 years, and the longest current serving Representative, Rep. John Dingell, D-West Virginia, has held his position for 57 years. The American people have the right to be concerned, but concern is worth peanuts if it is not acted upon.
The situation of our country is ignored until after the fact. Not only do few people decide to vote out Congress members they feel are more concerned with party loyalty than doing their job, but, despite the fact that President Trump has faced more “I-knew-this-would-happen” comments than possibly any President, a grand total of 28% of the population voted in the primaries. Less than one third of the country decided its presidential candidates.
That does not make sense.
If I complain about having too much homework on Sunday night, my parents ask me why I waited until the last minute to get it done. If the people of America are held to lower standards than I am when doing Chemistry homework, there is a problem. There is a very big problem in America right now; I would argue his name is not Donald J. Trump.
In fact, I would call Trump no more than karma for a nation that has ceased to care. A nation that treats the right to vote like an entitlement, ignoring the billions of people around the world who do not share it, and the innumerable lives that have been lost to preserve it. The public is more inclined to complain about the effects of not voting than–get ready for this radical idea–go out and vote. Because, call me crazy, but the effects of not voting might become less severe if people stopped not voting.
Insane, I know.
The fact is, just like no parent will listen to whining about homework you did not do in advance, no one in America is required to listen to your complaints about who is in power if you did not vote. Not just in the presidential election, because that’s one out of over 500,000 elections in our country. Granted, you can only participate in those which your state is responsible for, but regardless, voting does not disappear until you decide it’s time. If you have time to complain about it, you have time to fill out a paper and change it.
Maybe, America needed Trump. Maybe, his fog-horn shouting and neon skin color are what it’s going to take to get America’s attention. Maybe, just maybe, the people of this country will use their anger towards Trump to do better next time. To make the Trump presidency a lesson to learn from.
Or, maybe, what Trump has said and done by the end of his term will not have been enough, and the people who are supposed to hold the “power” in this democracy will continue to be their own nation’s victims.