When this election season began, I was a ball of excitement. It’s my first presidential election as a United States citizen, and I felt determined to understand the candidates running for the highest office in our country.
But before I say anything else, let me describe myself: I am a millennial. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I identify as an independent. In fact, Michael Bloomberg said it best: “I don’t believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership.”
So, when I started seeing hateful rhetoric being spouted on one side of the political spectrum, I became alarmed. While others were “feeling the Bern,” I felt skeptical. I even researched third party candidates, growing dismayed when I realized the odds were stacked against them. Growing wistful, I remembered how much I wished I could participate in the Democratic primaries in 2008, so that I could help my state’s senator become the first female nominee of a major political party and win the presidency. Somehow, I couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm this election year.
Fast forward to the RNC, where a bleak picture of America was painted, and the weekend prior to the DNC, where the email leaks showed a party establishment actively trying to sabotage one of their presidential contenders, it’s hard not to be a frustrated individual disillusioned with our political system.
That changed for me this week. I heard the electrifying speakers at the Democratic Convention, and for the first time this year, I felt inspired and charged.
The best line from President Obama’s speech, I felt, was this: “Democracy works, America, but we gotta want it, not just during an election year, but all the days in between.”
In other words, if we want to move our society forward, we have to participate at the local, state, and national level.
If we want more women in the boardroom, combat gender discrimination, or get equal pay for equal work, we need to get to work…together. We cannot put all of our expectations on one person. One person cannot solve the nation’s problems. Instead, we need to be vocal. We need to actively elect our state representatives, senators, mayors, etc. and hold them accountable. We need to be persistent and make sure that the people representing us are doing their job!
Yes, we are in the middle of electing two very unpopular candidates. But last night, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for President of the United States. Should she be elected, it will send a powerful message to young girls across the country. I’ll admit—the part that touched me the most was when she said, “I will be a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving and the successful. For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans.”
We’ve reached a major milestone, and for the first time in a while, I feel a glimmer of hope. Like Gabrielle Giffords, “come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.”
Readers, no matter who you support, I ask that you not stop being persistent after this election year. Continue making your voice be heard. Look for the individuals in your area that can be your champions. Let’s work together to make our communities safer, empower our girls, and create a more inclusive environment for future generations.