I come from a politically-charged and aware family. My parents have been discussing politics with me since we moved back to the U.S. in 2000. English wasn’t my first language, so trying to understand political terms at the age of six was a lot harder for me than for other six-year-olds who grew up in the U.S.
The 2004 election was the first election I ever followed closely. I was 10 years old. Sure, I probably didn’t understand much, but all I knew was that I hated Bush and didn’t trust John Edwards because I don’t trust good-looking Southern men (I got to rub that one in my parents’ face a few years later).
My early interest in politics got me really excited for the 2008 election. My mom handed me the voter guide for all of the different propositions in California (do they send those in other states?) and I pored over the giant booklet instead of doing my homework. I decorated myself in homemade, liberal propaganda stickers (my favorite read “The Dems are taking back the White House”), walked around my high school and got some pretty nasty looks from the kids I went to school with in the conservative neighborhood I grew up in. Believe it or not, suburban Los Angeles can be conservative.
2012 rolled around and I couldn’t wait to be able to vote in my first election. Elections are always right before my birthday, so I think of them as an early birthday present to myself. I even voted in the midterm election in 2014. I keep up with everything that happens in California even though I don’t live there anymore.
My point in writing this is to express the amount of frustration I have for people — especially young people — who don’t vote. No, saying you’re not educated enough isn’t an excuse because you have total control over your education. No, saying you don’t care isn’t a good reason not to vote.
Besides my parents’ political influence, I think one reason I’m so passionate about exercising my right to vote is knowing the history behind the Asian-American vote. Asian-Americans weren’t granted voting rights until 1952, the last minority group in the U.S. to receive that right. I’m grateful that I have this right and want to exercise it to potentially have an influence on who gets elected or which policies get passed or rejected. I want to contribute, in the smallest way, to bettering others’ lives, and I feel like everyone should. Saying you don’t care about politics is incredibly selfish because certain policies can affect your life and the lives and well-being of those you care about.
It shouldn’t have to take witnessing the most embarrassing primary season in U.S. history to want to vote. It’s a civic duty as a U.S. citizen to vote, and every vote really does count.
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