Opinion: Rock the Primaries 2016

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Winston Churchill once said the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter, and I must say, that’s a pretty powerful argument.

So how has democracy spread throughout the world as the prevalent government in many countries? For exactly the reason that Churchill highlights; it gives people of distinctly different backgrounds and educations an equal opportunity.

While there are flaws in a democracy, nobody should complain because they have a chance to stand up, speak out and even run for office. That’s why this presidential election season, I encourage you to participate in the primary election rather than be a bystander.

The purpose of a primary election is essentially a preliminary election to decide what candidate each political party will support in a general election.

Florida is one of thirteen states that maintain closed primary status, meaning that only registered members of a political party can vote on which candidate will run for the office of President of the United States. This is opposed to an open primary where voters are not required to declare party affiliation.

The deadline to declare party affiliation in the state of Florida is February 16, 2015. Just register to vote at the county Supervisor of Elections or find one of the volunteers that usually appear outside of grocery stores or public events.

Make sure to think long and hard about what party you mark down, as you will only be able to vote in that party’s primary.

An interesting feature of the United States is the two-party system. The system is not explicitly limited to two parties, but the parties have evolved dominance over time to ultimately give themselves a better chance of winning, and in recent elections, the popular vote has been split incredibly close to 50-50 between Republicans (conservatives) and Democrats (liberals).

The implications of having two parties on nearly the opposite end of the political spectrum are huge. Should one party win the election, nearly 50 percent of people who support the opposition will be left without an executive voice for at least the next four years.

Given that the presidential election is essentially a two-horse race, it would be a gross understatement to say the selection of the horse is important.

This election season, the primaries in the Republican Party have been exciting, with non-traditional candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson experiencing strong support at the beginning, while the resident politicians have made up ground recently.

Should a non-traditional candidate like Donald Trump lose the primary election and run as an independent, the outcome of the general election would be muddled, as he would draw support away from the Republican candidate.

In the Democratic Party, the ever-present Hillary Clinton is hearing footsteps from the career senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders as he draws a large amount of support from young people and the working class.

Whatever happens this election season, or wherever your political allegiances lie, it’s important to remember that voting is a right, and that the only way to get your voice heard and make change is to go do it.

It’s up to us to prove Churchill wrong; to educate ourselves, educate others, debate, and most importantly, keep an open mind.