Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “What’s the point? My vote won’t matter anyway.”
I’ll try to spare you the “well if everyone said that” argument and debunk this train of thought on a different level.
Living in Oklahoma my whole life, I understand better than anyone how a person could believe their vote will, truly, not affect anything. Oklahoma has only had one democratic senator since 1972 (David Boren), and none since 1994. Up until 2018, all five of Oklahoma’s congressional districts also belonged to the Republican Party.
While it’s true that Oklahoma is and has been a “safe” red state for almost 30 years. Democrats have a unique opportunity to garner much more representation in the upcoming election. Specifically, in Payne County.
Statewide elections are a problem for democrats in Oklahoma, but all over the state, specifically in more densely populated areas, democrats have been making a push. A great example is in our hometown of Stillwater with Rep. Trish Ranson representing the 34th and most populated district in Payne county. Rep. Kendra Horn, another democrat, was elected to represent our 5th congressional district in 2018.
While republicans have held the vast majority of elected seats, it wasn’t until 2015 that the number of registered republicans overtook democrats in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.
One thing that helped democrats in 2018 was the addition of state question No. 788 in 2018. This state question ultimately led to the legalization of Medical Marijuana. The addition of liberal state questions in conservative states is always a formula for new, young, registered voters, and that was no different in 2018.
Many believe that the democrats were able to use State Question #788 as a springboard to win local elections. So it’s no surprise they are trying to add more this time around as well.
The big state question this year will be centered around Medicare expansion. While it won’t get the same amount of energy and young support, healthcare is a huge issue in 2020 and is sure to rally up some of the base.
Voting, to me, is the minimum of what students should be doing right now.
While it’s good for students to make their voices heard in the ballot box, we are highly underrepresented in the Republican and Democratic parties. It seems ostensibly clear that both parties are willing to sell out our interests in order to maintain their own personal oligarchy, under the preface of a “divided country” of course.
The only way to address our underrepresentation is to fight for people with our interests in mind and become more involved in our communities. Many problems could be solved, in my mind, by actual people just talking and hashing out differences in person rather than politicians and mainstream media redirecting our anxieties away from economic issues and toward immigrants or “non-woke cis-males.”
Even though neither the Democrat or Republican party establishment wants you to believe that economic and social injustices are intertwined, the truth is that systemic racism and oligarchical oppression has plagued a generation with an economic burden they have no control over. In my opinion, it’s up to young people to get much change done at all.
One person who understood this extremely well was Martin Luther King Jr. In a report to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in May 1967, King spoke about the issues in America and their common denominators.
“We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.”
Voting matters in America, making your voice heard matters. History looks back on injustices of all forms with great contempt, bystanders are their only enablers.