Why You Can’t Afford to Not Vote in the Upcoming Election
Rarely has the outcome of a presidential election had so much hanging in the balance
The 2020 American presidential election is less than two months away. With the country besieged by the Covid-19 pandemic and polarizing ideologies, the stakes have rarely been higher as the country is quite literally at a crossroads. Regardless of political affiliation, whoever wins will quite literally determine what path the United States will go down for the foreseeable future, making one wonder how any eligible voter could possibly sit out the voting.
Although the numbers vary by source, there is a general consensus that only about 50–60% of eligible voters cast their vote in presidential elections. In addition to apathy, voter suppression and accessibility (time off/transportation/etc) can all contribute to staying away from the ballot boxes.
Fortunately, concerns about Corona-Virus have sparked an increase in accessible voting outside of polling stations on November 3rd. A fifth of the eligible American population will automatically have mail-in ballots sent to them in advance, while another nearly three-fifths live in areas where absentee voting will be allowed by all and simply require a request for such a ballot.
The issues are many when it comes to what the future of the country will look like. The candidates, Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, agree on precious little. If you may be on the fence whether you will or can vote, make sure to consider what the United States’ next president will be able to influence and potentially determine:
Supreme Court Appointments- Three of the nine justices are at least 70, with Stephen Breyer being 82 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sadly passing away earlier today. With the court currently sitting at a 4–4 deadlock, Trump will look to fill the current vacancy before the upcoming election while an additional seat could become available in the near future. The President also determines federal judges, so the future of the courts could be cemented for years by whoever will be making the choices.
Abortion- Although the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 made abortion legal in the United States, recent legal challenges has brought the issue around again. The future of women having full control over their bodies will be largely determined by the future composition of the courts.
Climate Change/The Environment- Under Trump’s administration, the United States has veered away from working towards addressing climate change. Environmental protections have also been rolled back in large scales in favor of business interests. With the country being buffeted by wildfires, rising temperatures and unusual weather events, the next administration will determine what priority, if any, will be given.
Equality- Black Lives Matter protests have been front and center in the news. Systemic racism, inequality and undue police force against Black people continues to be a massive problem in a country that bills itself as the home of the free. Additionally, there have been recent moves to minimize protections against others, especially in the LGBTQ community. These issues are not going away. What remains is what the long-term responses will be and the value placed on addressing inequality.
Jobs- The current unemployment rate sits at 8.4% as of August — more than double what it was before the pandemic hit. While the economy has recovered somewhat, challenges from trying to keep businesses operational while managing social distancing to help slow the virus have made it a difficult proposition. Not only will the next President need a plan for bringing back jobs but also one for helping negotiate fair and sustainable resources for those who remain unemployed.
Diplomacy- Once a respected leader at the international table for better or for worse, the image of the United States has taken a significant hit over the past four years. With countries like Canada, Germany and China publicly chafing at strained relations, much work needs to be done globally, and not just in political hot spots.
Immigration- The United States used to be a safe haven for those fleeing other countries to pursue a better life. Immigration policy has devolved to the point where those caught entering without permission sit in literal cages and detention centers. Measures like building an expansive wall have failed to get necessary support or funding and rhetoric has frequently fallen to the level of nationalism or worse. Will America ever be seen as a true beacon of hope again, or will the country continue on a path of hard-line policies and attitudes?
Healthcare- The combination of the pandemic killing more than 200,000 Americans (with many times more hospitalized) to date and the significant loss of jobs and benefits has meant healthcare has rarely ever been so urgent. Rapidly rising costs and accessibility to quality care are of greatest concern. Trump has indicated a strong desire to dismantle the current Obamacare system without presenting any alternative, while Biden would likely look to strengthen it. Even for those who are currently healthy, this decision comes down to what will be available in the future.
Repairing the Nation- Regardless of who wins, a significant portion of the American people will be unhappy with the outcome and continue to view others on the other side of the coin with varying levels of suspicion and contempt. There is no sure way to make everyone happy, but the next President will go a long way in either seeking to heal the rift or fracture the divide even more.
There are even more issues that matter to a great number of people, whose future literally hangs in the balance. The 2020 presidential election is the most important in generations. That’s no hyperbole but a commentary regarding the divisive interests of the people. Regardless of where one stands, there are surely at least one or two issues that speak deeply to everyone. For anyone thinking they won’t be able to vote, I say, how can you afford not to?