Thoughts From a First-Time Voter

By Reagan Rodgers

Let’s be honest- 2020 has proved itself to be a very unconventional year. The unprecedented effects of COVID-19 have resulted in unideal lifestyle changes for many Americans, and to many citizens, this year’s voting situation seems unideal as well. Should one send in their vote by mail? Should they vote in person? And who should they vote for? As national tensions rise, the policies of our presidential candidates often seem to take the backseat to party disputes, and it can be a confusing process to determine who would be a better leader for our nation. 

Adults across the country are struggling with these uncertainties, so for the young people of America such as myself, many of whom are voting for the first time, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the complexities of this year’s voting process. Many may be wondering, “Why vote at all?”

Firstly, as stressful and confusing a process as it can be, voting is a gift, not a burden. Across the globe, millions of people have no voice in their government, but in the United States, we have the amazing opportunity to make ourselves heard. The American government is by no means perfect; in fact, many of our systems, institutions, and policies are arguably in need of significant reform. But that in and of itself is the beauty of our democratic republic. We have the ability to help that reform come into fruition by electing a candidate who can take the steps to make it happen. When we vote, we are taking a vital step towards change.

But again, the question lies, for whom do you cast that crucial vote? How does one go about making such a critical decision? Personally, I have been trying my best to do my research. It’s not enough to judge candidates simply by their character or their performance during debates, although those aspects should be taken into consideration. To gain a more accurate understanding of how a candidate would impact our nation, we must look at the policies they support. As it can be difficult to find unbiased descriptions of these policies in our current media landscape, it is incredibly important to consult multiple reliable sources in this process, such as the candidate’s website.

What if you do not agree with all of the plans or the beliefs of either of the candidates? Well, you likely won’t. You are not the same person as Joe Biden, nor are you the same person as Donald Trump. Every citizen is different, with different beliefs, experiences, and needs, so it is improbable that you will find the perfect candidate that holds all the same values as you do. Doctor and politician Paul Tambyah explains that, “Voting isn’t marriage, it’s public transport.” If you need to travel to a certain destination, but there are no buses that take you there directly, you aren’t going to wait for the perfect bus to magically appear like you would wait for your “perfect person”; you are going to take the bus that gets you closest to where you want to be. 

We should remember this perspective when voting. No candidate is perfect, but which one will get America the closest to where you think it should be? Notice the emphasis on you. While it is obviously important to consider how the election of a candidate would affect others besides yourself, your vote should ultimately reflect your opinions of what would be best for the country, not your parents’ or your friends’ opinions. Numbly accepting the beliefs of those before you with no further thought completely neglects how great the democratic system truly is. Our governmental system best serves its purpose when it hears and addresses the needs and desires of its people, so don’t forfeit your opportunity to make your voice heard!

As aforementioned, we are experiencing an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. For this reason, it is more vital than ever that we exercise our freedom to vote to help ensure that our nation is a safe and prosperous place to call home. In an era of uncertainty, one vote, your vote, can make all the difference. 

Reagan Rodgers is a senior at Trinity Christian Academy.

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