By Kiran Misra
When I first watched this video, the question “Who benefits from this exploitation?” haunted me for days. I thought about it when eating at Bartlett, when debating in my Human Dignity class.
“Who benefits from this exploitation?”
I know who does. People like me, who have remained politically inactive for years, who have remained neutral in situations of injustice. People who, by doing so, are implicitly choosing the side of the oppressor. Oppressors like those who exploit the workers in Immokalee. And I didn’t want that to be the person I chose to be. Not any more.
I donated to my first political campaign, volunteered for my first political campaign, and will vote for my first political campaign this year because I believe in the power of a campaign and, hopefully, a presidency built on the stories. Stories have immense power, to hurt and to heal, to empower and unite us.
I see myself in some of these stories, the sacrifices my parents made as immigrants to this country, the fears I have about living in a place where the humanity of society’s most vulnerable is debated instead of protected. In other stories, I don’t see myself, and that’s okay, because the Sanders campaign isn’t just about people like me, it’s about celebrating and serving the diversity of this nation. And I don’t need a policy to directly benefit me to want to vote for it, because I know it will help so many others.
It’s easy to like a video on Facebook or to talk with my friends who share similar political ideologies about why we all are behind the same candidate. Voting is harder. Voting is brave. Because voting is a way of saying, “you’re wrong,” to all the people who say my individual vote will never make a difference. Going to the polls is a way of saying, “I’m going to spend my one and only precious vote on a candidate who might not win because I have hope in the power that this radical empathy can have,” even though I’ve been told I am being overly idealistic and naive. Voting is saying “I can’t remain silent any longer,” it’s saying “I choose to care.” And that’s brave.
Being able to not vote is an enormous privilege, because if you can choose not to vote, it’s only because your humanity, dignity, and future aren’t contingent on who gets the nomination. It means you’re safe no matter who wins. Not everyone is that lucky. And I am voting for those people, too.
Every vote does matter. Too many people fought so hard and sacrificed so much to guarantee this right for it not to matter. Sanders is leading the Illinois polls and now it’s just about showing up. Voting takes less than an hour and for people like me, who’ve procrastinated and haven’t registered in Illinois yet, same day registration is possible every day until the primary is over. Let’s prove we’re better than all the people who spit out the word millennial like its a dirty word, who see our generation as self-interested and myopic. Because this vote isn’t just about electing a person, one person can only do so much. It’s about having a say in the issues our country chooses to care about for the next 8 years. And that’s worth an hour of my time.
Kiran Misra is a third-year in the College. She is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.