As US presidential Election Day approaches, we need to rethink our role in politics and the power we hold to change our country.

Whenever a word such as “politics” is raised in a conversation, many prefer to be silent so to avoid intrigues and resentments among others. However, what we do not notice is that by neglecting this theme all we end up doing is going against our own character, for “man is by nature a political [social] animal.” These words by the Greek philosopher Aristotle get us to wonder the relevance we have as members of a complex society, and the mechanisms we have been adopting to express our wishes and desires inside the community.

Why not to be silent when it comes to politics

Politics, when exerted in a democratic manner, acts as a powerful instrument for social inclusion as far as it gives voice to all citizens indistinctly, assuring representativity to marginalized minorities. Guaranteeing each one’s accessibility to human and civil rights, and serving as a bridge for negotiation and dialogue among different individuals and nations, besides influencing economy, employment, health, public and national security, welfare and education.

Although, it appears to be a matter related to the “big” and the “important”, we are not only mere and passive spectators and receivers of political unfoldings and their impacts, but rather direct doers of the political process. Through voting, we decide what course we want our country to take for the next four years.

Vote: a valuable tool that cannot be taken for granted

It is in our hands to decide what we consider to be the best not only for us, but for all the community. It is then worthy that we take some time to reflect whether we want in power someone who spreads tolerance or hatred, who treats people fairly and equally, and who will fight for peace and not for war.

Governors, among other aspects, make the law and apply it; if we do not select them wisely, we may regret it later on.

At the end, we must all take responsibility over our choice, and have a clear conscience for not being neglectful to our role as citizens. On the other hand, if we chose to be remiss, we must accept what is to come: as Plato states, “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

Nevertheless, those who think it is all settled once elections are over could not be any more wrong. As part of a democratic system, it is our duty to demand from our politicians everything they have or have not promised to accomplish, to accompany their work and to let them know of our country’s necessities; we must make sure they hear our voices.

What to demand from your candidate

Politicians are a reflection of our society, for if they are in the positions they find themselves in, it is because we allowed them to, we directly took part in it, may it be either through our vote or our omission. What we must never accept is if we observe they have been ruling away from the virtues a public person should have: honesty, altruism, initiative, empathy, firmness, intelligence, leadership, diplomacy and humanity above all.

If it comes to our knowledge our candidate is a corrupt, or that he or she has been ruling moved by their own interests rather than “for the people and by the people,” it is our moral obligation to stand against them, and to ask for explanations; however, if we give it a cold shoulder, we will be just turning ourselves into their accomplices.

As very well said by the French writer Victor Hugo, “Between the government which does evil and the people who accept it, there is a certain shameful solidarity.”

A president should be someone equipped with vast experience, knowing the exact moments when to speak and when it is more prudent to remain silent, somebody whose words we feel pleasure listening to, a person whose acts we approve of and would take as an example.

A president should be a person we trust to the point of giving him or her our vote, someone balanced and sensible, who is willing to be with his or her people in the times of joy and success as well as in the times of suffering and despair, giving them calm and bringing them together, not tearing them apart.

What to keep in mind from now on

There are so many virtues to characterize a politician, yet I know things are not so utopian. Most of the time, these qualities will not be found altogether in one single person. Nonetheless, we must support that who conveys the largest range of them, and that who you rationally judge to be the most prepared for such a great burden.

Finally, the last message I have is the following: be hopeful, rational and conscious. Do not give up on this unique tool for democracy which is your vote. You have the power to change a country, and even the world. Make it worth it. Do not be indifferent to the delicate situation currently going on. Do not avoid talking about politics. Your role as a citizen, matters, and your opinion is relevant. As said by young Malala Yousafzai, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful”.

Luiz Felipe Moraes is an Editor for Brazil in the Naked Opinion section of The Pavlovic Today. He is a Yale Young Global Scholar 2016. His interests revolve around International Relations, humanities,...

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