As a democratic republic, our government is run by elected officials. Everyone from our city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, to President Barack Obama plays a role in shaping and influencing our future. It is our job as citizens of the United States of America to exercise our right to choose these officials through voting, thereby impacting us on the local to national level.
Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett assumed office on January 18, 2011, winning the election in November 2010 by more than two million votes. During his time as governor of Pennsylvania, he cut approximately one billion dollars from education statewide. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Philadelphia educates twelve percent of the state’s students; sadly, the School District of Philadelphia received thirty-five percent of Corbett’s budget cuts. In the words of The Washington Post, “You can’t cut your way to academic improvement,” which is precisely what Tom Corbett attempted to do. Out of the 8.5 million registered voters in the state of Pennsylvania, less than half voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Had they left their homes to vote, the outcome may have been different.
In the context of our nation’s future, the closest presidential election was in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy won that election by 0.2%. The most critical part of Kennedy’s legacy is that he prevented a nuclear armageddon. To circumvent nuclear warfare, he made a deal to remove American missiles from Turkey as long as Russia removed their nuclear missiles from Cuba. During the presidential debates, Nixon felt that Kennedy was too willing to compromise with the Soviet Union and other communists. Had Kennedy lost by 0.2% the outcome of the Cold War could have been drastically different.
Whether the candidate whose views do not align with yours is elected by 2 million votes, or your desired candidate by 100 thousand, the choice lies with us, the citizens of America. We currently possess a power that some of our ancestors fought for us to gain. Whether we vote or not, we are left to face the consequences of our choice for four to eight years. Many high school students, including myself, wish that they could vote, but are too young. If you are eligible to vote, do not squander the opportunity because your decision could mean the difference between another major budget cut, or avoiding another war. So for those of you who are eighteen or older, do not forget to rock the vote on November 8, 2016, and every election day for the rest of your life.
Chris Carson (277)