Don't take your vote for granted

I am voting against our current president.

In Iran, I would not be surprised if the government executed me for writing this in a newspaper. In Syria, maybe the punishment would be less severe for openly opposing the President’s reelection bid, like a life imprisonment for myself and my family.

But in the United States, a country that is based on freedom, I can use the 600 words allotted in this column to say whatever I want about how President Barack Obama has not led the country in the direction I think he should have in the last four years. I’m free to say that unemployment and the national debt have all gotten worse under his tenure, while Mitt Romney’s record of fixing economic problems at every business he’s worked at is stronger than any other candidate in the history of the Grand Old Party.

But I’m not spending more words going into further detail about my faith in Romney’s ability to stimulate job growth better than Obama has his first term. That’s not why I’m not voting for the President this upcoming election.

I’m fully aware that my ballot will make zero difference in our country’s future. California will be bright blue this November, whether or not I vote.

The point of voting is not solely to influence the outcome of elections. It’s to celebrate the freedom and rights we all have as Americans and show appreciation for those who gave them to us.

Millions of Americans have been killed throughout history so that citizens like those students over the age of 18 can vote in elections on Nov. 6. Today, thousands of American troops are still deployed around the world to protect us and our way of life from the radical religious fanatics in the Middle East.

Even if you don’t support the fact that our government has continued to keep a military presence in parts of the world, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t appreciate the fact that the people called to duty by our government are out there trying to protect you. Just because you don’t think the effort the military puts towards protecting us is effective or worth the cost does not mean that we should forget the freedom that all of those men and women are risking their lives to protect.

So, on Nov. 6 don’t forget to show the world that you appreciate being an American. We’re far from a perfect country, with our economy struggling, our education system below international averages and discrimination still present in some areas of the country.

But we still provide more opportunity than any other country on this planet–that’s something to be proud of. The standard of living we have in the United States should not be taken for granted.

If the ideas of liberty, fairness and opportunity mean anything to you, then show it by voting. It takes less time to register online as a Californian voter at registertovote.ca.gov than it did to read this entire column.

So why am I not voting for our President this upcoming election? I’m not voting for him because I can act on my beliefs. If you’re a student that turns 18 before election day, then you should make sure you register. Wear an “I Voted!” sticker with pride all day Tuesday. Maybe you’ll cross paths with a veteran later that day, and that sticker will show him or her that the sacrifices he or she made to our country were worth it.

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