When fighting for women’s suffrage, Susan B. Anthony said, “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make the laws and elect lawmakers.” It wasn’t until Aug. 18, 1920 that women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment. Does that mean that women became equal to men the instant the 19th Amendment was signed into law? That those around them treated everyone equal? Was there no longer anything to fight for?
No. There was clear inequality in our country. Not only in the way people treated each other, but also in the way the government treated its citizens.
In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We are moving, and we cannot afford to stop.” In 1965, our nation needed change, it needed action and the people of the United States were dedicated to forcing that change to happen. Five months later, on Aug. 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. Did this mean that action was no longer necessary? Movement was no longer necessary? Change was no longer necessary?
In the past few weeks, I have noticed a sense of apathy on this campus. The issue is not that the students here are completely carefree and have no qualms with what is going on at their school and in their community. Drake students do see the problems, they do see the unfairness and they do see that change is needed. What I do not see is a majority of those students taking their complaints and turning them into actions. And, while I have no desire to sound like a ‘Rock the Vote’ PSA, voting is the easiest and most accessible way to make change.
I hear my peers talking about how their votes don’t really count, or how they don’t want to contribute to a corrupt political system. These statements not only frustrate me, but also make me angry. While I understand the Electoral College and how it works for the presidential elections, your vote does still count; especially in local elections. If you are truly dissatisfied with our government and its overbearing two-party system, work to change it. Vote to change it. Your complaining certainly won’t do anything.
If your vote doesn’t count, and the act of voting is truly useless in creating change, then why have so many people who have come before you worked so hard to acquire the right to vote? The right to vote has always been the first and forefront step in being recognized as equal in the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of the people that the law serves. If you refuse to exercise that right to vote because you think it has no real purpose, you are wrong. And, if you are just too lazy to register and too apathetic to go to the polls, you are showing those who came before you true disrespect.
So, vote. In Iowa you can register to vote at the polling station on Election Day. Drake University has done students a favor—there will be early, satellite voting in Olmsted this Tuesday from 1 to 7 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You don’t even need to leave campus. Exercise your right. Vote.