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First-time voters deserve better

Frank Duenz/Associated Press

Frank Duenz/Associated Press

This past weekend, Harry Potter super fans celebrated the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the script of the original stage play with the same name. The play is performed in two parts at the Palace Theatre in London and has been so popular that tickets are currently sold out. It was released on July 31, Harry’s birthday. Birthdays are a thing to be celebrated, and this year my younger brother celebrates a major milestone. My not-so-little brother is turning 18 in September, and he can now legally partake in a variety of vices. This big birthday also brings a big responsibility — he will be voting in his first election ever, and this one is a doozy. Come November, liberal and conservative voters will be faced with monsters far more terrifying than dementors, basilisks, and three-headed dogs.

The 2016 election is the definition of the “lesser of the two evils” scenario. Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Only 9 percent of the nation voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and their favorability is the lowest for any frontrunner for any party in more than 30 years. Trump’s favorability is a mere 24 percent, and Hillary barely inches past him with 31 percent. Millennials have a higher opinion of Lord Voldemort than they do of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The Harry Potter generation has spoken, and we’re not happy.

My brother, Austin, is one of the kindest human beings I have ever met. His heart is too big for his own good, and I dread the day that I see it broken. He’s mild mannered and always the first to lend a hand to someone, anyone, in need. While he will technically be an adult in about two months, he is still quite impressionable, as many people his age are. Austin and I both grew up in a conservative, but not necessarily political home. We would gripe when our parents would wake us up early for church, and when my mother would finally give up on trying to have dinner without the television on, it was always Fox News in the background.

When I started college, I was a bleeding heart liberal. I didn’t know any better. That’s when mom banned politics at the dinner table for good. She couldn’t take the bickering between my constitutionalist father and I. Eventually, I saw the light and realized that I was actually a closeted conservative all along. Perhaps these many taboo conversations at the dinner table influenced Austin over the years. While he was never an outwardly political person like I was, he became excited during the 2016 election cycle to finally exercise his right to vote.

A few months ago when America wasn’t pigeonholed into choosing between the lesser of two evils, I was thrilled that Austin would finally get to cast a vote come November. My hope was that he would get to fill in a bubble next to the name of a person who was actually conservative. In 2012, when I was awkwardly coming to terms with the fact that I didn’t politically align with what felt like virtually everyone on my campus, I convinced myself that it was a good compromise to vote for Gary Johnson.

The funny thing is that after following the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, I would give anything to be casting a vote for Mitt Romney this fall. Austin and I have listened to our dad talk about his first time voting. In 1980, my dad cast his very first vote for president in support of Ronald Reagan. I can only imagine what it must feel like to wholeheartedly support a candidate like that, someone whose vision for America left you feeling optimistic, not terrified of the future. It’s a feeling that my dad described as “just so right.”

Looking on the bright side of 2016, there is still a lot to be hopeful about if you look closely enough. The good news is local politics and grassroots movements are a constructive outlet for frustrated young conservatives like myself. In his article for Townhall, Luke Hilgemann notes that “average Americans are mobilizing like never before in support of smaller, smarter government and real economic solutions. They know exactly what they want — and they’re willing to fight for it.” Furthermore, the American people should realize that casting a vote is not the only way to influence policy. It may be the easiest way, but it is certainly not the only way.

I encourage other millennial conservatives to be loud about what they believe in. Don’t fall in line just because society has told us repeatedly that there are only two options at the polls. Start a conservative club on your campus. Show up to town hall meetings. Write to your representative. At times it may be an exhausting fight to ensure that your voice is heard, but you can rest assured that you are not alone.

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