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A personal plea to American Muslims on your duty in the upcoming elections

Imagine you and three of your friends are going out for dinner, and you’re all deciding on where exactly you should go. Here’s the catch: you are deciding your evening meal for the next four years. Each choice has their downside; one restaurant isn’t trustworthy with their food and the other has horrible customer service and has a pretty strict policy on its guests.

Your friends turn to you and ask where you want to go. You’d probably be better off choosing one option over the other, though neither option fully satisfies you.

Now I’m giving this very obvious example for one simple purpose. Though it’s completely unrealistic to be choosing your dinner for four years straight, but with the coming Presidential election in the United States, you’ll be choosing your President for the next four years – the one person who has a considerable amount of control over the military, and will represent America on a global scale. As a matter of fact, it actually affects us all in small ways.

Now going back to the previous example, you’ve decided you won’t be saying anything at all. You will essentially take away your right to vote, and you end up going with the one restaurant that is the worst pick out of the two. And you can’t really complain because you never actually said anything.

That’s exactly what it’s like when you don’t vote. You’ve just sacrificed your right to vote and essentially given your choice to someone else.

Throughout the American election, I’ve seen a few posts about why you shouldn’t vote because both candidates aren’t good. While that might be true, it’s also a horrible reason why you should throw away your right to vote.

A President and its Congress make very important decisions that will not only affect your life, but the life of every American and, considering the influence America has on foreign policy, the rest of the World. The vote would determine what direction your country will take in terms of diplomatic, foreign and militaristic affairs. Although governments make decisions you won’t agree with, they can make decisions that will be better for the national community, such as an increase in spending or a decrease in taxation.

vote us elections clinton trumpThe point I’m trying to make is that this decision is one that could change the course of the country and heavily affect big groups of the population. Giving up your vote simply because one or two things don’t align with your political beliefs neglects the thousands of Americans whom they might benefit. Simply put, this vote doesn’t only affect you, but everyone else in America. It’s not a choice of the lesser of two evils, but rather a choice of which path you want to see America take.

Not only will the decisions affect your daily life, but the personality of your President and leader affects the behaviour that surrounds you. During the 2015 Canadian Federal election, some politicians used Islamophobia in their campaigns. This resulted in an increase of hate crimes against Muslims in Canada. If there was a candidate that openly makes racist or sexist remarks, I wouldn’t be surprised if it left a little mark on the population. But that’s beside the point.

I’ve read articles that argue a vote for the lesser evil candidate is still a vote for evil. However, rejecting the current democratic system doesn’t change anything. Matter of fact, no one cares if you don’t vote. It would be better for both candidates as they don’t have to convince you. When they analyze why a certain percentage didn’t vote, they won’t try to analyse the issues you had with voting; they’ll just assume you didn’t really care. They’re not going to ask themselves why you aren’t voting; they’re more preoccupied with those who have the power to change current politics by voting.

It sucks.

The current American election doesn’t make it an easy choice of who you want your President to be. It’s not easy to look at the candidates and get remotely excited about either of them. The current situation is a reflection of the many years of political struggles and changes. But you can change all of this for the next generation of voters, by getting involved in politics now and fighting for the causes that you truly care about.

Not everyone in the world gets the right to vote for their leaders, which is why this one task has so much value. You get to choose your leader. By refusing to vote, you’re not doing anything. But you can vote for an America that you can change for the future. It may not be the prettiest America, but you can be the change that brings it one inch closer.

And it starts with one vote.

by Mateen Manek

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