The right to complain

People exercising their right to vote.

People exercising their right to vote.

Americans always seem more than happy to complain about what government officials do or don’t do. But do you really have any right to complain? Did you educate yourself? Did you make your voice heard? Did you vote?

“If you don’t vote, you can’t get mad,” Douglas Green (12) said.

The cliche, “Your voice counts. Be heard. Vote.” is heard often especially with upcoming elections. The opposition typically find voting to be a trifle and believe that a young individual cannot change the country with one vote. Ironically, to a degree, both sides are correct.

In most elections one vote is not going to tip the scales in such a way that will change who is put in office. Candidates must win by a specific percentage that varies for different elections. However, these percentages are made up of individual votes. There lies the correctness of each side.

It is common for younger people to stay away from the polls. In the recent mayoral election, only 5-6 percent of eligible voters age 18-34 exercised their right to make their voices heard according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

Democracy does not work without individuals. Without knowing what each person wants, the majority cannot be satisfied or benefitted. Single votes may not cause a movement. However, hundreds and thousands of individual votes do.

“Voting gives you a say in what your life is going to be like,” Lucy Hoard (12) said.

To know which candidate could provide the kind of life you want, you must inform yourself by doing research and watching debates. Otherwise, your vote could hurt more than help.

Educate yourself. If you do not know what politicians are doing and what events are taking place, your complaints concerning the government could be wrong and invalid.  

The idea of American government is to be a majority rules nation. You must make your desires known. In the United States, this is done through voting.  

“People don’t really have the right to complain about how their government is if they don’t vote,” Hoard said.

Voting may be a ticket to a right to complain about politicians’ decisions, but it is so much more. It is a privilege and a duty to be taken seriously.

“Always go out and vote,” Green said. “Always make sure you perform your civil duty to the country and to your city and to your state.”

Although many share the view of voting being important, others disagree that politics truly benefit a nation.

“I’m not that confident in politics as a way for people or society to progress,” Grace Ma (10) said.

While some may disagree on the value of politics, for now, it is here to stay. Register to vote. Go to the polls. Make your voice heard. And inevitably complain, because you gain that right when you cast your ballot.