The United States political climate continues to remain as polarized as ever. Fortunately, this rough political climate also continues to promote civic engagement in Americans who, until this point, hadn’t even thought about casting a ballot, let alone voting early, casting an absentee ballot or physically engaging with organizers.
At the end of last week, states like Virginia and Maryland saw their early voting either double or nearly double those cast in 2014. Those numbers dwarf in comparison to the early voter turnout in Texas, where early ballots may have already eclipsed the total 2014 midterm elections turnout.
At the very least, the engagement we've begun to see is a great step in the correct direction. The more politically active citizens we have, the more our democracy can work for the people. Whether those individuals vote in the same bloc, share the same values or identify under the same political party, a more knowledgeable and engaged set of constituents is a good thing.
Echoing sentiments expressed already by the Minnesota Daily, this engagement cannot stop on Tuesday. Instead of considering whether to vote or not, please consider the issues most relevant in this election and issues that individually affect us and our friends and families.
There are still thousands of students and Americans every day who are uncertain whether they will have to leave the only country they have ever known. Whether you agree or disagree with the ending or original application of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, these people need an answer and uncertainty cannot become the status quo.
Minnesota continues to have housing issues, our infrastructure is crumbling and thousands of Minnesotans still lack proper access to the internet. Regardless of how one believes these problems should be addressed, a solution needs to manifest itself soon, or these problems will only become exacerbated.
Healthcare remains a central focus for many campaigns this fall. With Congress locked between upholding, updating and repealing healthcare policy, thousands of Americans are stuck with coverage that is either insufficient, too expensive, or both.
The opioid crisis continues to kill and leave many Americans with addiction issues. Now, many policy makers debate the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana use in order to combat the epidemic, creating a substantial increase in tax revenue. An issue of related importance is the expungement of the criminal records of those found guilty of crimes involving a substance that is legal in a large portion of the country.
These issues are only some of the largest national issues that can be directly influenced by increased political engagement. There continues to be an entire host of local issues that, more often than not, will more directly affect the lives of Minnesotans and University of Minnesota students.
Of course, we urge everyone to vote. But this election cycle, and in elections hereafter, contemplate all of the local, state and federal issues that are important to you. Follow these issues, vote for candidates who perpetuate your views, and continue to hold lawmakers accountable to provide solutions to the issues that mean the most. Continue to vote because you care about finding solutions to well-known problems, rather than voting to see a candidate or political party win. The United States was built by the people, for the people and it is time that we stand and deliver.