This year has been defined by so many things: COVID-19, the confluence of insane events and, of course, the presidential election. As this campaign season finally comes to an uncertain end on Nov. 3, it will be remembered as one of the most historical elections, probably of our lifetime. One of the things that marked this election was the overwhelming amount of voter turnout and civic engagement, on a record breaking scale. While there are not many things that I would want to save from this election season, or really this year in general, I think that hopefully we can make this level of engagement the norm going forward. 

The central component of the American democratic system is public engagement. The voice of the people is supposed to be the guiding force behind decisions that are made by elected officials, but people have a tendency to forget this. The role of public representatives is to serve the people, not to work for their own personal gain. There is the misconception that each American’s individual vote or voice does not hold the power to make a difference, but that is simply not true. The people are an essential part of the process, and when people do not vote, the system doesn’t work as it should. I think that people should work just as hard as they did on this election, because the more civically engaged you are, the better it is. The record breaking voter turnout of this election is something that should continue, even in future elections. 

There is extreme power granted to people who show up to make decisions, because there are aspects of government that affect parts of everyone’s lives. Whether it’s taxes, education or the roads we drive on, everyone can find something to care about in politics. I think that this election has made many people realize that politics are something about which they not only should care, but must care. This election marked one of the most expensive ever in terms of donations to candidates, which is one of the many ways that people have gotten civically engaged this election. I think that this election could mark a shift in the public view on whether or not Americans should involve themselves in politics. Even though it may have been for reasons that were bad, such as public anxiety over things like the pandemic and the economy, there is a silver lining to more public engagement.

If you take out a one dollar bill, and look at the back, you can see that on the left side there is a pyramid. More importantly, the pyramid is unfinished. This is how we are supposed to look at our country. We are meant to continue evolving, changing and debating. As we look toward our future, beyond this election, I think that this is an important thing to remember. The American experiment is meant to continuously change, and it always will. So, remember to use your vote and your voice, even outside of this election.

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