The 2020 election is upon us! It’s time to get out there and exercise our voting privileges! The U.S.’s voting history began in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, only a small portion of the population was allowed to vote: white land-owning males over twenty-one. It would take near 150 years for women to gain the right to vote in 1920 (only 100 years ago!) and an additional four years for Native Americans to be able to cast their ballots. Elections seem like a far off thing, reserved for politicians in Washington, but they impact us on a very personal level. Let’s take a look at why voting is important and the ways our favorite TV shows have represented elections.
Voting is important because it allows people to have a say in the policies that govern them. The U.S. was founded as a democracy after the thirteen colonies separated from the oppressive British rule. As the U.S. nation has progressed, laws have been passed, and amendments made to allow more people to have a voice: women, people of color, the disabled, the LGBTQ+ community, and more. For that very reason, voting is a vital part of the future. The more people that make their voices heard, the more the world can change to reflect those people and their needs.
Some feel like voting doesn’t really matter because one vote can’t make a difference. In the past, elections have been won or lost by a single vote. For example, in 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected president by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the Electoral College. In 1846, President Polk’s request for a Declaration of War against Mexico passed by one vote. The U.S. Electoral College has been criticized as problematic and an ineffective way to fairly count votes. But how do we change that? Well, by voting.
Many of our favorite TV shows have portrayed voting via class elections. Sure, it seems like the biggest issues the student council can decide on are prom decorations and longer lunchtimes, but there’s more to it than that.
13 Reasons Why gave a powerful example when Jessica stands up to the jocks when she runs for class president. She uses her trauma as a platform to promise real changes in the school. In That’s So Raven, Raven, Eddie, and Cory get a sharp lesson in political ethics when they try to bribe their peers into voting for Chelsea. Arnold from Hey Arnold! helps Mr. Green run for city council to finally makes some needed changes to their neighborhood. Penny from The Proud Family learns to take the high road when her opponent in the race for student president runs a smear campaign against her. Sabrina from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes a stand against sexism at her school and fights to be allowed to run for the position of Top Boy when she’s told girls are not allowed to participate.
It may seem like there’s not much we can do to fix the never-ending mountain of problems. But there are ways we can participate and even bring about change, and voting is one of them. So be sure to cast your vote in the 2020 Presidential Election. (Even if you can’t vote this time around, do the research and keep yourself informed of the issues.) Map out a voting plan to stay safe and let your voice be heard!