Go with the Chlo: Not partaking in politics is a privilege

Chloe Meredith , Managing Editor

56.3 percent.

That is the percentage of eligible Americans that voted this past November in the 2016 presidential election, according to the United States Elections project. Despite this being the lowest voter turnout in 20 years, this pattern of low participation in voting and politics in general has been an American tradition.

But why? Why is asking the American people what they want in their government so hard to get an answer? Why is this the case when those very people pride themselves for belonging to the country with the “most” freedom? I wish could I say I don’t understand how Americans can be so neglectful of the rights given to us, but the non-participators’ message is all too clear.

Those who do not actively take part in understanding politicians, recent events, and critical decisions regarding the American people are using their privilege to not care. Every aspect of our lives is regulated by the government, but some more than others. Marginalized groups are faced with bigotry, deportation, assaults and discrimination in everyday life from their fellow people, employers, service and even government officials and law enforcement. For marginalized peoples, they are fighting for their right to eat, work and live among their fellow citizens.

By not getting involved and voicing your opinions in politics, you are actively taking a stance that you do not care about what happens within your country, which is a privilege. Others are not so lucky. Your race, gender, sexuality, social class and ableness are secure enough for you to not feel threatened by them. You are safe and secure from the destructive hate that comes from within America, including neo-Nazism, white supremacy, the KKK and the “alt-right.” That is a privilege.

Reverse the privilege and fight back.

Just look at the many social issues in the U.S.’s history, including women’s suffrage, Jim Crowe Laws and the right to marry whoever. There were the oppressors, activists and the bystanders. By some Americans choosing not to take action and ignore the problems that plague their fellow citizens, they allowed those problems to persist for even longer and made it harder for change to happen.

Don’t let the U.S.’s shameful history repeat itself. Don’t look at the events at Charlottesville, VA. last weekend as an unfortunate side effect of freedom of speech. Don’t just look down upon the neo-Nazis or white supremacists and ignore them or the problems they bring to the surface. Don’t pass off the Confederate flag as “Southern pride.” Instead, do fight against the hate because they are a direct threat to your fellow Americans. Do speak up when a new act of legislation protects discrimination or even mandates it. Do take action when injustices occur within the very country that prides itself in being the best.

The lesson I take, and I hope you do too, from these events is that standing on the sidelines and not wanting to “get political” is a privilege. Wanting problems to just go away but never actually taking a stand does more harm than good. It is when a country comes together to take action that the problems get solved. Join the fight.