The High Road:
Voting is a Right,
Ignorance is a Privilege

The High Road

Nearly a thousand Hong Kong residents filled the streets on Chinese National Day to demonstrate their disdain for the Chinese Communist Party. The protest groups are dissatisfied over a lack of autonomy to elect their own chief executive in Hong Kong’s first democratic election in 2017. This is an excerpt from USA Today on the goal of the protests:

“The people on the streets are here because we’ve made the decision ourselves and we will only leave when we have achieved something,” said Chloe Cheung, 20, a student at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. “We are waiting for the government to respond to our demands for democracy and a say in what the elections will be like.”

Election Day is November 4th. Fortunately for United States citizens, Election Day happens every year (though not every political office holds their elections annually). One might think this is the standard, especially in a first-world country, but for many in China, as well as numerous third-world countries, voting is a privilege that is not equally afforded to all its citizens.

In the United States, voting opportunity for all citizens has been a struggle. Leigh Thomas, Chair of the College Republicans at High Point University, was under the national spotlight recently for blocking attempts by Turning Point USA, a political activist youth organization, to register student voters on campus. “I don’t want to have any voting registration happening on this campus, with students,” said Thomas.

Thomas’s reasoning for her actions is unclear. Registering voters, especially students on campus who may be out of district, is a concern for political activists. In states like North Carolina, student voting has become even more burdensome, which is why it is disheartening to see young students fighting against their own interests.

As citizens of a democracy, we take for granted the privileges established in our Constitution by our forefathers and fought for by our ancestors. Our freedom is supported by informed and engaged participants, and undermined by our apathy. The price we pay for freedom is invaluable:

“Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that ‘oh, I don’t get involved in politics,’ as if that makes someone cleaner. No, that makes you a derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and Panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.” – Bill Maher

In less than a month, voters will have the opportunity to take command of the destiny of this republic. When you fill out your ballot, know that you are not just voting for one person or the other, one political party or the other, but the privilege to do so.

Take the High Road…

NC Voter’s Guide is a great resource for staying informed before Election Day! You can check out the UNC TV North Carolina Center for Voter Education here.

Columnist Justin Laidlaw is a renaissance man. His interests range from the music business to politics, from Durham’s history and culture, to the world beyond. The co-host of Clarion Content’s podcast, he is fast becoming a veteran columnist. He is a fashion model, a tech sceptic, a business manager and more.

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