When I was a freshman in college, I did something remarkable.

I voted.

It was 2012, a ground breaking year in American politics. It was the year of the lingering Republican primary, the year of billion dollar fundraising, the year of Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, the year of Twitter, the year of not-quite-recovered economy and the 47%. I was 18. It was my year.

Unfortunately, not all of my peers mimicked this remarkable action. In fact, only about half of those ages 18-29 voted in the 2012 election. It was one of the best years for youth voter turnout in recent history. And only half of us sent in a ballot or set aside time in our day to stop by a polling station.

That’s pathetic. And before you tell me about all of the reasons that you didn’t vote on election day, about how you didn’t know where to register, about how you had an exam the next day, about how your vote doesn’t really matter because of the electoral college, let me tell you something:

People in other countries would give up everything to enjoy the privilege that you take for granted.

And before you tell me that I’m being dramatic, that one vote doesn’t really make a difference, that people in other countries would also give up everything to enjoy freedom of speech or religion or the press or even basic modern sanitation, let me tell you something else:

You’re right. One vote by itself doesn’t make a difference, and people in other countries do admire the lives of ordinary Americans. But many votes do make a difference. And part of the reason that we are blessed with clean water and air, with diversity and higher education, with research and technology, with flushing toilets and Reddit, is because of our strong, stable, representative government.

This representative government was not made on its own. It was not intended to function independently. It needs all of the votes that it can get, but in particular, it needs the votes of those of us with new ideas, those of us who are going to inherit this country and this earth. We must take it upon ourselves to participate. We must take it upon ourselves to register online, to obtain an absentee ballot, to make a trip to the polls. We must take it upon ourselves to demand representation, to elect officials that share our concerns about student debt, women’s health, gay marriage, the economy, and national security.

So for those of you who didn’t vote in 2012, I urge you to visit the polls on Tuesday. Because when it comes down to it, voting is a responsibility. Voting is a great way for our generation to ensure that our voice is heard. And finally, voting is remarkable. And shouldn’t we all strive to do something remarkable every 2 years or so?

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