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18-year-old is excited to vote
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Recently, I celebrated my 18th birthday, which for most newly-turned 18-year-olds really means nothing practically other than, if they were so inclined, they can buy cigarettes now and, if they break the law, they’ll be charged as an adult.
A great milestone.
If this were all that changed as a result of turning 18, then I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
But for me, having the ability to buy cigarettes and knowing that I would face the “adult” consequences for a crime aren’t the totality of the changes that accompany my eighteenth birthday.
I now have the right to vote.
It’s an oft-dismissed right in our country, discounted by many potential voters as an exercise in futility in which a single vote really won’t change the outcome of an election. Which, to be fair, is pretty much always true.
In the 2010 midterm elections, when voters were fired up, a relatively measly 41.6 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast their votes.
In an election that was billed as the election that could decide the future of America, far less than half of eligible adults managed to make it to the polls.
I never plan on being one of those people who take their voting power lightly.
I’m not delusional about my newly-gained right to vote.
While I know that being eligible won’t mean anything earth-shattering in coming elections, I’m overjoyed at the prospect of finally having a say in who governs my city, county, state, and nation.
For my whole life up to this point I’ve been relegated to writing about the dismal state of politics on our country, complaining about various aspects of government, or holding up signs for candidates I want elected. Now, for the first time, I have a vote in my country’s future, a vote to change America political woes, a vote to hold government at all levels accountable, a vote for candidates whom I support.
It may not be a new day in America, but it’s certainly a new day for Elijah Friedeman’s involvement in politics.
I think it’s fitting that my first chance to vote won’t be in a presidential election or even for my congressman. When I cast my first vote at the ballot box, I will be voting for candidates in state wide elections.
If I could choose which election comes up first now that I’m eligible, I would pick a local election, a city council or mayoral election.
While I plan on voting in any and every election for which I’m eligible, I wish my first vote could be for something small like city councilman instead of voting for the next governor of my state. Those local elections don’t have the glitz and glamor of bigger elections, but they can be just as, or more, important and are often overlooked by the voting population.
I’ve never advocated letting teens younger than 18 vote, simply because I recognize the wisdom in preventing younger teens from visiting the ballot box. At the same time, I think it’s a cruel, though logical, system that prevents young people from voting on candidates and issues which will impact the younger generation far more than anyone else.
But now I’m 18.
No longer am I relegated to political irrelevance.
I still may not have much of a say in what our government does, but I now have the right to vote.
And I plan on employing that right as often as possible.
(Elijah Friedeman, author of The Millennial Perspective, is the grandson of Janis Friedeman, Great Bend. His columns can also be heard on his father, Matt Friedeman’s, radio program on American Family Radio.)