Your View: Don’t let 2016 be a year of apathy

Stephen Simeonidis is the general counsel and public relations director for Miami-Dade Young Democrats.

Stephen Simeonidis is the public relations director and general counsel for Miami-Dade Young Democrats. Happy Primary Day, Florida!

As the 2016 presidential campaign rounds the one-year mark, Floridians finally get to cast a vote.  But most won’t.  If “apathetic” were a political party, it would control Miami – where less than one in four turned out in the last national election.

Start giving a damn. These issues are too important to not show up  – and on many issues the right choice is blatantly obvious.

Take climate change. The vast majority of the scientific community agrees that climate change is real, and humans are making it worse, yet Florida officials have actually gone as far as to ban the words “climate change,” let alone attempt to address it. It’s reasonable to have differing opinions on the degree to which we should adapt, especially when considering short-term economic consequences, but to deny it outright is ludicrous. Top military advisers have designated climate change as a significant threat to our national security. In Miami, many neighborhoods will be under water by the end of the century.  We need action now.  People need to hold their elected officials accountable at the ballot box.

Healthcare is another black and white issue.  How is it contentious that an injury or illness shouldn’t financially ruin someone?  In the richest country in the world, no one should have to decide between treating an illness and feeding their family.  Approximately 800,000 people in Miami-Dade are uninsured – and that figure does not include the many under-insured. In this country, nearly 10 million adults with health insurance will still accumulate medical bills that they can’t pay off this year.

Free access to healthcare should not be a partisan issue – it should be a right.  The federal government offered to provide Florida with more than $50 billion in order to insure 1 million uninsured Floridians, but the legislature and Gov. Rick Scott turned it down.  They should be held accountable at the ballot box.

There were 372 mass shootings and 67 school shootings last year.  Despite that, officials refuse to mandate background checks for all gun sales.  Even people on the FBI’s no-fly list can legally purchase a gun.  More than 300,000 Americans were killed by guns in the last decade, compared to 71 killed by terrorists.

Yet somehow, American leaders have seen fit to spend trillions on the war on terror and cast the “freedoms” they supposedly champion aside to curb a threat that kills about as many Americans a year as balloons. (And not even hot air balloons. Normal balloons.)  Bribery from the gun lobby has caused our elected officials to oppose even the most common sense gun control measures.  Hold them accountable at the ballot box.

In 2007, risky gambles by the financial industry torpedoed the global financial system. The collapse was softened by a $700 billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout.  Softened, but not prevented.  Unemployment rose to double digits and, for the first time in more than 60 years, the US economy shrank.

The crisis hit Miami especially hard, with tens of thousands of people losing their homes.  But not all were troubled.  Executives from the institutions that caused the crash took in tens of millions of dollars in bonuses.  How can an industry that tanked the global economy continue to operate without accountability and common sense regulations?  It could have something to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars Wall Street has poured into campaign bank accounts.  Politicians need to be held accountable for their inaction.  Hit them where it hurts: the ballot box.

These issues still plague this country because it is no longer a democracy.  The United States of America is an oligarchy.  A full year before the general election, 158 families had already donated a combined $176 million to presidential campaigns. These families are tied to fossil fuel companies that lobby against environmental regulations, corporations that lobby against healthcare reform, and Wall Street executives that lobby against financial regulations.  These bribes, legalized by the Supreme Court of the United States, have corrupted our political system and fostered a government to serve the few – not the many.  Don’t stand for this.  Fight back on Election Day – the stakes are too high for apathy.

Find out where to vote here.  If your aren’t currently registered to vote, change that right now.

Editor’s note: Young Republicans declined to contribute a column for the primary. 

Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about Miami with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it here.