I’m from Phoenix, Arizona and let me be the first to say it is not always sunny in Philadelphia, but it was on September 15 as I boarded a bus with about twenty other Penn Dems members for the first canvass of the year. After casually speaking with Seventh Congressional District candidate Susan Wild and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (just Penn Dems things) we were given basic training and sent off to our respective canvassing turfs. As we walked through the sun in Easton, Pennsylvania, one of the many important cities in the upcoming midterm elections, the words of Susan Wild and Josh Shapiro rang through my brain. They had told us that our work, knocking on doors, could make a crucial difference in the upcoming election.
But as the day continued on and we left yet another pamphlet at the door of someone who did not answer, the energetic spark I started with was starting to fizzle out. Don’t get me wrong, the canvass was going well, and we spoke face to face with many people who were excited to vote for Democrats at all levels of government, but I was waiting for the “warm and fuzzy” feeling that Penn Dems president, Dylan Milligan, had promised me. That was until we knocked on one particular door. We were greeted with a friendly, but apprehensive, face (something I’ve gotten used to from canvassing a lot) and we politely asked to speak to the person on the canvassing list. The man who answered said that person was unavailable, but he began to question us about what we were doing. I was so excited. When canvassing, any chance you get to have an extended conversation is like striking gold. We explained to him that we were with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and we were here to talk about Susan Wild and Democrats up and down the ballot. Then he asked the question that I had been waiting so long to hear: the most important question, the question essential to the democratic system set up by the founding fathers. He asked, “Why should I vote?”
Why should we vote? Sometimes in today’s society we get so caught up in everything terrible that is going on and feel absolutely useless. We feel like our voices are not being heard and like we have no control of what happens to us. Once this idea becomes the dominant mindset it’s no wonder that people question if their individual vote really matters. This man asked the question that runs through the minds of so many people on Election Day. Why take time out of a busy schedule to vote when you feel like your voice does not matter anyway? With November 6th fast approaching we all need to understand that our voice, and our votes, really really matter. One important thing I’ve learned so far in my time in Pennsylvania is that the races in here can be so close that literally every vote counts. Young people and minorities have some of the lowest voter turnout rates of all, yet these are the people who are most affected by the policies of the Republican Party. If we can increase the turnout among these groups in upcoming election we have a really good chance to make a huge impact on a national level.
With all of this going through my mind, the best thing I could tell this kind man is that, no matter what, his vote really does matter. And I want everyone to spread that message. Tell your family, your friends, people you pass on the street, tell everyone you meet that their voice and their vote matters. Volunteer for canvasses and voter registration drives. We as as individuals need to learn that if we want real change we cannot simply complain about it on Twitter. The best way to make an impact is to vote.
When we left that man, he made sure to tell us that he was definitely going to vote. That is how revolutions are started.
This post reflects the opinions of the author and is not necessarily representative of those of Penn Democrats.