Friday, April 25, 2014

Vote in Virginia’s governor election

The upcoming gubernatorial race will hold significant consequences for the future of our state and our nation

E pluribus unum. The Latin phrase, inscribed into the Seal of the United States, is one of our nation’s first and greatest mottos. Translated into English, the expression reads “out of many, one.”

Out of many states emerge a single nation.

Speak out — Students should participate in the upcoming Virginia election. Photo credit: Abigail Bocke

Speak out — Students should participate in the upcoming Virginia election. Photo credit: Abigail Bocke

Or so was the intent when an Act of Congress adopted the Seal of the United States in 1782. But instead of the majestic picture of a united people depicted on our seal and crest, we are instead finding a nation divided, overcome by petty partisanship.

News of the government shutdown has doubtless made headlines around the world. But how many of us realized just how personally the shutdown would affect our own lives?

I, for one, did not take notice until I was forced to reschedule my weekend plans to visit Washington, D.C., and when Peaks of Otter was no longer open for hiking.

Stop for a moment and take a look across our nation: Family and friends are on furlough. National parks are closed. Museums and memorials are barricaded, and government sites are shut down.

These are but small ripple effects of much larger complications. As students, do we understand the gravity of the core problems facing our country?

It is tempting to brush off the issue and give a quick quip about it not being our problem. But as students and future leaders preparing to enter the workforce, the government issues plaguing our country are very much our problem.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned amidst our nation’s executive crisis is that we do indeed have a voice, and we need to be aware of how we are using it.

If you voted in the last election, you are responsible for the placement of our current congressional members. And if you abstained from casting a vote, you too placed people into power by refusing to use the voice you have been given.

As students in Virginia, we have an upcoming opportunity to use our voices to say something meaningful. The gubernatorial election, taking place Nov. 5, is important not only for Virginia, but for the United States as a whole.

According to Dan Balz from The Washington Post, Virginia’s gubernatorial race has national stakes.

“For Republicans looking toward 2016, it is a real-time test of the challenges a full-throated conservative will face in the swing states that decide presidential elections,” Balz wrote. “There are good reasons to pay attention. In each of the past nine gubernatorial elections, Virginians chose a candidate who represented the party that did not hold the White House. If that pattern is broken this year, Republicans will be asking why.”

For those wondering how to make a difference and how to effect change — start with a vote. Register for the upcoming election and make decisions consciously and intentionally.

Who we elect and who takes office has powerful effects for the people of this nation.

As Bishop Kevin J. Farrell warned in his Red Mass address on Capitol Hill, divisive arguing and selfish behavior will do nothing but tear our nation apart.

“Today we are more like Babel than Pentecost, we are more about confusion than wisdom, more separate in and by rhetoric than united,” Farrell said. “We may disagree. But there can be no place for derision or smugness. When we respect differences of opinion in dialogue, we respect and revere the differences that provide variety and give texture to this great country of ours.”

Regardless of which party you side with, something must be done to safeguard our future from falling back into its current state of dissension. The government shutdown will not last forever. It will reach an end. When it does, I hope our generation remembers what has happened and makes the necessary steps toward changing the future.

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