In a funeral oration delivered by Pericles – a distinguished political leader and general of ancient Greece – for the men fallen in the first year of battle of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles asserted that “Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbors, but are an example to them.” Pericles believed Athenian democracy to just be intrinsically better than any other political system. In the Athenian government system, a man who did not take interest in the political sphere was not deemed harmless but rather useless. At that point in Athenian history, very few people possessed the ability to vote; in deeming a man who did not fulfill his duty to vote as inadequate and useless, Pericles portrayed and intensified the significance of using that power provided to a private citizen by the government.
Not too long ago, the fifteenth amendment prevented someone from being denied the right to vote because of race and the nineteenth amendment prohibited someone from being deprived of the right to vote on the account of sex. That was no easy feat to accomplish and required the commitment of countless men and women from across the country. However, the dedication and steadfastness of these people has seemed to dissipate into the fading text of yesteryear.
I continue to struggle to understand how people could have the ability to participate in the political process but do not. At the same time, I recognize that some remain indifferent to the whole ordeal and do not want to become involved. I would rather those people that remain apathetic or uninformed do not vote. However, by forfeiting that opportunity during election time, that individual should also surrender the right to complain and criticize the state of the political system. I cannot stand whining and crying about the political sphere when that individual has done nothing but give up his/her chance to be heard. Since when did disappointment + frustration = the right to complain – the action of voting.
While I may not agree with the proposed politician in each main party, I know that I must ultimately come to a decision as participating member of society. I also recognize that as a young, knowledgeable, urbane American citizen now capable to vote in a presidential election for the first time that I have the duty and the obligation to contribute to the political process. Remember that every vote does count.
William E. Simon, businessman and former Secretary of Treasury under Nixon and then Ford, asserted, “Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”