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Commentary: Why my vote matters

Editor's note: The following essay, written by Logan Lipke, received first place honors in this year's Osakis VFW Voice of Democracy contest, which was open to students in grades 9 through 12. This year's theme was "Why My Vote Matters."

By Logan Lipke, Osakis, MN

The United States is one of the most unique countries in the world and one of the most free. Its citizens are granted freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to bear arms, and the list perpetuates. Because of these freedoms, the United States has, throughout its life, rejected communism, abolished slavery, and diminished prejudice. Over time, it has accepted people from all cultures, backgrounds, and countries to come and live in the blessings that it has to offer. It also gives its people one of the most important rights in my opinion, the right to vote. Many times I do not think about and do not understand the importance and the power that I will have on America's present and future through voting. My vote matters, and there are some very important reasons why.

The first reason is that our country is one of only a few in the world that is run by a democratic government. The sole idea of democracy is governing by the people, and leaders being put into power or taken away from it by the citizens of the establishment or country. A common ruling government today is a dictatorship, where the country is solely ruled by one or a few people in power, known as dictators. Countries under dictatorships often face social ruin and extreme poverty, and some people are arrested and killed if they speak out against the government. For example, during the last election in Russia, dictator Vladimir Putin threatened to exterminate anyone who voted against him. Therefore, almost every person in all of Russia elected him back into office. The freedom of voting for who I want at no menacing penalty is quite uncommon. When I do not vote, I am throwing away a freedom found not many places in the world.

The second reason why voting matters is concerned with political parties. Currently, our country is separated into two primary parties, Democrats and Republicans. Almost every citizen in the United States, including those in the government, are one of these two. The parties are very different in their values and ideas, and have different strategies to running our country effectively and satisfying all of its problems and needs. One candidate is voted into presidential office every four years from one of these parties, and that candidate will almost inevitably make decisions and nominate people into governmental power that support the party that he or she supports. This can leave the party that was not elected unsatisfied and many times angry and protestful. My vote is my open support of the people that believe in what I believe in concerning this country and its prosperity. To the party I back, it adds one extra step towards electoral victory. Voting not only applies to just the president, but also to other leaders on federal, state, and local levels including governors, senators and commissioners.

The third and final reason for the importance of my vote is that some of the United States' most vital necessities depend on it. The management of military, health care, jobs and employment, trade, social security, environmental sanitation, education, and other factors, depend on my vote in a major way. If suitable leaders are placed over our country in these areas, we as a nation can truly be successful. If someone not capable of leading our country is elected, we might collapse in some ways. The United States is like a lever, and I myself with the rest of its citizens are the fulcrum, the point on which it pivots. Our votes determine the steadiness of our country, our states, and our families. When we become unbalanced, our votes are what lead us back on track, moving the fulcrum back to the center of the lever! What an amazing power!

In conclusion, my vote is a significant part of the groundwork for making up the United States government and national decisions. It is an amazing freedom that hardly any of the world has, and is one of the largest factors in making our country the prosperous piece of the world that it is. When I have a chance to participate in any election, I am putting my vote in, and letting my country, state, or county hear my voice, because my vote matters!