Op-Ed: If You Want Change…Participate

March 22, 2016

On Tuesday, March 15, Illinois, along with four other states, held their primary elections.

On the republican side, businessman Donald Trump edged out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to win the states’ primary. On the Democratic side, Sec. Hillary Clinton edged millennial favorite Bernie Sanders in a tight race that came down to a one percent margin victory for Clinton.

Although the support for Sen. Sanders has been rapid among young voters, he fell short in Tuesdays’ primaries, as Clinton won all five states that voted, which we found hard to believe.

Here at Dominican, and other universities around the state, the support for Sen. Sanders has been excellent. One would figure that Sanders should have easily been able to carry Cook County, the county where the most millennials are present.

Let’s take a deeper look into the state of Illinois and voting demographics. In Cook County, the county we vote in, Sec. Clinton won by a 54 to 46 percent margin, which equated to nearly 100,000 votes. While Clinton has often used rhetoric throughout her campaign claiming Illinois as her “home state,” we still find it perplexing that Sanders fell by over 100,000 votes in Cook County. If there was so much support for Sanders, especially among young voters, how did he fall so short in the major counties in Illinois? Young voters can demonstrate all the enthusiasm they want, however, that doesn’t always translate to the polls. If we long for change, we must participate in order to have our voices heard in the political process.

Now that the primary election has passed, the next opportunity we have to make our voices heard will be in the general election held in November. However, the millennial poster boy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, will likely not be on that ballot as he trails Sec. Clinton by an immense margin.

We fear that the young voters who were so eager and encouraged by Sen. Sanders’ message will fail to participate in the general election if he is not on the ballot. We have seen this happen far too many times in the world of politics. Young voters, even voters in general, will get so passionate about a particular candidate. They will pledge their full support for the one candidate the feel will truly change the landscape of our country. In this case, that candidate has been Bernie Sanders. However, if that candidate falls short, those voters often get discouraged and develop a feeling of apathy towards the political process feeling that they have, once again, been left behind as the establishment’s favorite candidate heads to the general election. The important thing to realize is that, if this happens, the political process remains the same and nothing will ever really change.

If you’re discouraged by the results of the primary races, you should still participate if you want to see change. Deciding not to vote will not address any of the concerns you were once so passionate about.