The 2020 presidential election is one of the hottest conversation topics among young Americans today.
Though youth voter registration is higher than it was in 2016, many young people have taken to social media to express their feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness when it comes to the election.
For many young progressives — especially those of color — Joe Biden represents a "lesser of two evils." As a result, many have announced they refuse to vote this fall.
It's true voter suppression is alive and well. But there is no need to rehash what we already know. This is about young people who have the ability to vote but have expressed that they do not want to vote for Biden.
I'll admit, I am not Biden’s biggest fan either. His platform is not terribly progressive, and his refusal to endorse the nationwide legalization of marijuana is a big turnoff. Between his troubling history with segregation and telling black doubters they “ain’t black,” it’s clear the man is far from perfect.
But what is the alternative? He may be the lesser of two evils — but only one of those evils is running on a blatantly racist, sexist platform. Only one of those evils deliberately downplayed a virus that has now killed almost 200,000 Americans.
Sure, Biden doesn't represent every single one of the ideals of the modern liberal Democrat; and sure, we can talk about it on Twitter all day long. Or we can go to the polls in November and vote out the candidate who embodies every last oppressive system we want to get rid of.
Which one of those seems more viable to actually bring about the change we seek?
It should also be noted that presidential candidates are not the only people who will be on your ballot in the fall. In Louisiana, for instance, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy is up for reelection and many Democrats are hoping to vote him out.
It's not just about Trump and Biden. We cannot even begin to really tackle issues like systemic racism, economic inequality and the ongoing healthcare crisis without more Democrats in office. And in order for that to happen, we must vote.
But does your vote matter? Many point to the electoral college system as proof it doesn't.
It is in fact an outdated system. Supporters of the electoral college argue there’s only been a handful of incidents where the candidate who won the popular vote did not gain enough electoral votes, but that’s a handful too many.
It is understandable why this makes people think their vote doesn’t matter. The president should be chosen by the popular vote — by the people.
But, I ask those critics, what will abstaining do to rectify this situation? Not voting in this election at all is a vote for Trump. Republicans are already counting on people like us — liberals, young people, black people and other people of color — not to show up at the polls.
No, we don’t directly vote for the president. But if enough of us vote one way, it will help influence the outcome. Most states in the electoral college award their electors’ votes to whichever candidate won the popular vote; so every single vote does count, whether you believe so or not.
And let’s face it, the sentiment that it's okay to just not vote is very dangerous. People say they are simply skipping out on the presidential election, but what about future elections that prove to be more important? Will we eventually be okay with missing those too?
Your vote matters and you should use it. It is the loudest voice you have. I vote because my ancestors fought for me to have this right and I choose to honor them by exercising that right instead of simply sitting on my hands.
According to the U.S. Census, 46% of people aged 18 to 29 years old voted in 2016. That’s less than half. Imagine what we could do if we all voted. Imagine if we made our votes count by showing up together.
Many people who don’t plan on voting in the fall feel like they are ignored by politicians — and they’re right. Because these demographics don’t usually vote, politicians don’t bother spending resources to appeal to their needs. Instead of this, resources should be poured into them to make sure they vote.
I got a chance to meet one of Cassidy’s many opponents, Mayor Adrian Perkins of Shreveport, at a campaign event. He talked about how young people just want to be heard. He's right.
Perkins talked of how tapping into the 18 to 24 age group could change the course of an entire election. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, this election will most likely have record-breaking turnout rates. People are more interested in politics than ever before.
I believe that if we all vote, we have a chance to get Trump out of office. If you’re reading this and you're a Republican, your vote counts too. All of ours do. We just have to make them.
Olivia James is a 20-year-old political science junior from Baton Rouge, LA.