In summary

I am often told that college students are cynical. But we are not cynical, and we do work for the change we want to see. That is why I am voting.

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By Gabriella Sonderegger, Special to CalMatters

Gabriella Sonderegger is a sophomore majoring in chemistry at University of the Pacific,

I am often told that college students are cynical, that we don’t participate in politics because of our lack of faith in the systems that govern it. We complain from a distance and refuse to participate in a government that determines so much of our lives.

In some ways, I agree. Many of us no longer have faith in a system that has marginalized minorities and suppressed constituents. We cannot demonstrate pride in a government that works against its people rather than for them.

But we are not cynical, and we do work for the change we want to see. 

This past year we have marched in the streets to protest racial injustice, we stayed indoors and avoided socializing to protect our neighbors from COVID-19, we entered the job market during a worldwide recession and watched as our country was devastated by natural disasters caused by climate change.

Let’s prove that our generation is not withdrawn. 

It is easier to watch from a distance and hope that the American government will suddenly see the mistakes it has made and correct them. Unfortunately we realize this likely will not happen. Perhaps it is this way of thinking that gives our generation the reputation of cynics. However, we also believe in our ability to impact the course that the government has taken. I cannot believe that America’s destructive spiral is inevitable because we have a say in whether it will continue.

Our generation has the ability to correct the mistakes that have been made and fundamentally shift the tone of American politics in unprecedented ways. While this tone has grown nastier, the fundamental problems of racism and sexism, and inequity toward immigrants, LGBTQIA+ individuals and others are anything but unprecedented. We need to change, and we must care enough to enact it.   

That is why I am voting in this election. I need America to act against climate change and promote sustainability. I want our leaders to create positive, mutually beneficial relationships with foreign allies. I want the government to enact legislation that supports LGBTQIA+ individuals and take decisive action against racism. In 2020, we have demonstrated a disregard for these issues. 

This election will determine the course of our country, and the future of our generation. For many of us, it is our first opportunity to vote in a presidential election and let the voices of our generation be heard. I predict we will vote, and it will change the course of this election. 

However, after we vote we must continue working. We need to hold our elected officials accountable and ensure that the government begins to respond to and support its people, by giving historically marginalized communities a chance to have a say in their government. 

We are America and above all, we need to remember that the societal systems, the government, the social structures of the country represent us. We cannot work to create change without being willing to change ourselves. We have to learn to respect each other, not despite our differences but because of them and come together to make this country reflect who we are as a society.

Prove that you care. Prove that America is redeemable. We are inheriting this country. The course of America’s government is ours to control if we are willing to extend the effort to do so. I am voting. Can I count on you?  


CalMatters: California 2020 election guide 

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