Value your vote, show up at midterms

Column: Introverts
October 10, 2014
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October 10, 2014

Value your vote, show up at midterms

Speaking at the Values Voter Summit conference on Sept. 26, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee delivered a shocking statistic: of the approximately 80 million evangelicals in the United States, only half are registered to vote, and of those who are registered, only 10 million vote in the midterm elections.

“Imagine what would happen if the people of faith, the value voters of America – the evangelicals, the pro-life and pro-family Catholics and Protestants from all over this country would let it be known: we are registered, and we will show up,” Huckabee said. “We will hire people, and we will fire people who should have been fired a long time ago.”

In 24 days the United States general elections will take place Tuesday, Nov. 4. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, as well as numerous seats in state and local governments, will be up for vote. Will you show up?

Maybe even more disappointing than the lack of evangelicals who show up is the lack of young adults who show up. According to civic- youth.org, just 45 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 voted in the 2012 elections. President Obama beat Mitt Romney in the popular vote by just 5 percent that year.

As 18-to-22-year-olds, we should remember to value our vote by looking at the students in Hong Kong who have been leading the push for universal suffrage in their city. The students want the common people to be able to nominate and elect candidates for the chief executive elections of 2017. However, the Beijing government wants to reserve the right to approve or disapprove of these voting results, thus nullifying any sense of a genuine democratic election.

Students in Hong Kong, who have homework, relationship struggles, money troubles and a need for sleep have taken to the streets of Hong Kong because they recognize the value of having a vote that means something, of having a voice in the election of the people who will be influencing their lives and their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

Wendy Lo, a 21-year-old linguistics major at the University of Hong Kong who was interviewed by Ned Levin for the Wall Street Journal, said the story of Queen Esther standing up to the Persian king Ahasuerus to save the Jewish population from Haman’s evil plot has inspired her to fight for democracy in her city.

“The story made me think about speaking up for myself,” Lo said. “If Hong Kong residents don’t speak up for ourselves, who will?”

In the same way, when pleading with Esther to visit the king, Mordecai said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14).

Yes, God’s will will be done no matter what, but don’t you want to be a part of it?

Esther had her time. Now it’s ours and Lo’s time. We must show up.

For Lo that means protesting with her fellow students. For us that means voting with our fellow citizens.

Perhaps for college students in the United States, democracy is not such a big deal because we have enjoyed its merits since 1789 when George Washington was elected as the first president of the United States. Yes, we are now 225 years past that inaugural election. But, can you imagine the excitement of that first crowd of voters in 1789? That same energy and excitement is building in Hong Kong as they prepare to have their first genuine democratic election for the chief executive office in 2017.

We Americans must not become complacent about our democratic privileges. On Nov. 4, you will have the chance to utilize your right to vote. Will you show up?