No matter one’s party affiliation or political convictions, the excitement of this election season has been undeniable. Amid a fierce debate of ideas among individuals who feel passionately about this country, history has been made. For the first time, a woman mounted a serious bid for our highest office, garnering more primary votes than any candidate before her. On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, an African-American accepted a major party’s presidential nomination for the first time. An American hero and former prisoner of war defied the odds to win a spot atop his party’s ticket, and subsequently chose the first female running mate in that party’s history.
The excitement of this year’s presidential race has engaged a tremendous number of people in the political process, particularly from demographics often underrepresented. I hope that this November, a record number of Americans will cast a ballot to have their say in who will lead our country at this pivotal juncture. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 230,000 more registered voters than at the time of the 2006 midterm. Particularly remarkable is the participation thus far of young people. Following the first Tuesday in February, a day of more than two dozen primary contests, CNN and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reported that young voters “turned out in record numbers in more than 20 states…doubling, tripling and even quadrupling the turnout in the 2000 and 2004 electoral seasons.”
During the more than 30 years that I wore the cloth of this nation as a member of the U.S. Navy, I served, above all else, because I believed in the freedoms and values of our nation, chief among which is the ideal that every adult citizen has an equal vote to determine who makes the decisions that determine the course of our history. I urge everyone to take part in this momentous election that will decide the future of our country. Get involved with organizations that represent your beliefs and ideas. Register to vote and encourage friends to do the same. Most importantly, take advantage of the right for which so many have fought and died. Whether by absentee ballot or at the polls on Nov. 4, join with other Americans in the greatest demonstration of the freedoms we are so fortunate to have inherited.
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak
7th Congressional District