I came to the United States when I was 5 years old. English is my second language.
When I was 16, California voted on and passed Proposition 187. At the time I was not only too young to vote, but parents were only legal residents. That meant we didn't have citizenship, and without citizenship, we didn't have the right to vote.
Proposition 187 was one of the most divisive political acts ever inacted in California in my memory. Even Arnold becoming governor was barely a ruffle compared to it. I remember how people would hold protests left and right at my school - even though it was mostly white and mostly conservative.
A quick overview of Proposition 187:
-Illegal immigrants would be denied medical treatment, even emergency care.
-The children of illegal immigrants would be denied school.
-People suspected of being illegal immigrants could be deported without a hearing.
If you want to read more on 187, try this or this.
Everyone was afraid. Even as legal residents, we were afraid that we or others that we knew (legal citizens) would get deported. The proposition sent a message: We don't want your type around here. So quickly, my parents and most of their friends went and tested for their citizenship (and got it - I am a citizen today because of it).
The lesson that I learned was that because we had no vote, others were making decisions for us. We had no voice, because we could not vote. Whenever I find people who were born in this country as free citizens that do not vote, I get a little mad.
Voting is not a right. It is a privilege. You are privileged to live in a society with a history of freedom; in a society that grants you the right to vote as an inalienable right. You should be grateful for the privilege, and exercise it as often as you can.
If voting was a right, then democracy would have been more widespread, not only in the world today, but throughout history. If voting was a right, many of the world's people would not be living under dictatorships and monarchies. But that's another story.
So what's the lesson? I don't care who you vote for; just get out there and do it. It's the smallest amount of studying for the greatest amount results that you can do in your lifetime. And yes, I am cynical and I am bitter because sometimes I don't feel like I can affect anything, not in my work, not in my life, not in the world. But damnit, I vote, because I know what it's like to be totally helpless because I did not have the right to vote.
So please register to vote. And when the day comes, make your voice count. Even if it's a tiny voice, it's one nonetheless.
Here are some resources I found for voter registration. Michael Moore's site actually has the most comprehensive voter info, but if you're principlely opposed to him, try the other links or google for 'voter registration deadline yourstatename':
Links listed by comprehensiveness.
P.S. Some states allow you to register at the polls. Make sure that if you want to do that, that you have all your paperwork in hand. Go to their websites and find out exactly what you need so you won't get turned away empty-handed.
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