Yes, your vote does count

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Yes, your vote does count

Columnist Dausener argues that President Trump's (above) first four weeks in office have shown that elections have real world results.

Columnist Dausener argues that President Trump's (above) first four weeks in office have shown that elections have real world results.

TNS

Columnist Dausener argues that President Trump's (above) first four weeks in office have shown that elections have real world results.

TNS

TNS

Columnist Dausener argues that President Trump's (above) first four weeks in office have shown that elections have real world results.

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Opinion Columnist

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During the last election cycle, throughout the primary and the general election, I spoke to many people while working for campaigns and while covering election stories for the Northern Iowan. When I would bring up the election, the most frequent response I would get would be something along the lines of, “I’m not into politics,” “I don’t do politics,” or “I don’t follow politics.”

It is easy to understand why so many are so alienated with American politics. Our political system is a grueling one. Campaign season seems to last forever; by the time election day arrives everyone is thrilled to not have to hear about that damn election ever again.

Campaigns are extremely negative, and can divide communities up in ways little else can. Government and institutions do not seem to represent people’s interest anymore, regardless of party.

This is an attitude that is best reflected on a condom wrapper I saw last weekend; the wrapper featured a picture of both an elephant and a donkey, and a caption that read “Either way, you’re f—ed.” (Except the caption wasn’t censored.)

Yet, the past four weeks have demonstrated that elections have consequences, and that we cannot afford to sit on the bench any longer. 

Republicans have taken power within the federal government and the Iowa state government. The immigration executive order, the wave of American xenophobia, the rise of alternative facts, the threat of repealing Obamacare, the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the dysfunctional White House and the rolling back of regulations designed to protect the environment and stabilize the baking system are all direct consequences of this election.

The effects can also be felt at the local level. Iowa’s public employees have lost their collective bargaining rights, something which would not have happened had Democrats retained their majority in the state senate. UNI is about to lose $2 million in funding, though exactly who is responsible for the budget shortfall is a topic of debate, the issue is still undoubtedly political.

Democrats are nowhere near perfect, and have a corporate money problem similar to the Republicans; an issue Democrats need to fight and fix. However, the attitude of “no matter what you’re screwed,” is dangerous and false. The government is not some secretive entity who will always screw over the American people. Government is made up of humans, making human decisions; and it is our job to elect people who will make good decisions.

The truth is, Democrats and Republicans make very different decisions while in positions of power — decisions that affect our everyday life.

Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate whose candidacy I strongly fought against during the nomination process. But when compared to Donald Trump, it was clear she was the better candidate or the lesser of two evils; whichever term you think fits best.

Hillary Clinton does not have mysterious ties to Russia, was not going to dismantle policy designed to combat climate change, was not going to repeal Obamacare, was not going to undermine the free press and the courts, and was not going to even consider, let alone sign, an immigration executive order similar to Trump’s.

Clinton also had plans to address college affordability, address mental health and raise the minimum wage. Clinton celebrated diversity, rather than fighting it. Imagine how different the headlines would be today had just 80,000 combined votes in three states had gone a different way?

It is our job to elect Democrats today, and then to continue to fight and build a better party of tomorrow; a party that represents the needs of all working and middle class Americans.

The recent actions taken by the state and federal government are direct consequences of the 2016 election. It has demonstrated better than any column or civics class ever could just how important it is to be involved in the political process.

Politics is not a spectator sport, and so we cannot sit on the sidelines anymore. If you do not like what government is doing right now, you can help vote them out of office in 2018 and 2020. If you like what government is doing, get out there and vote for the incumbents. We need high voter turnout to build a healthy democracy that works for everyone, and you can be a part of that change.

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