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Commentary: Pay attention – soon it will be our turn to vote

By this time of the fall, the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is “Who are you voting for?” Whether you’re liberal or conservative, red or blue (or purple), election season raises some other issues just as lasting as the result of the election. Whenever any of us turn on the TV, it’s almost impossible not to see one candidate or the other being bashed or praised. The rivalry has become so intense that politicians seem to have forgotten that elections are not just about winning; they are about governing the people.

These days, many politicians seem to view compromise like a banana peel, something that will only slip them up and get in their way. But that refusal to compromise has led to Congress having some of its lowest approval ratings in almost four decades, even hitting 10 percent in one poll. In the past year, only 61 out of the 3,914 proposed bills have become law, and in 2011 only 90 bills actually became law. This makes our current Congress the least productive since the end of World War II. It’s clear that their stubbornly partisan politics are detrimental to their effectiveness.

Compromise is meant to be an effort to reach a mutual understanding. In reality, our country was founded on compromises. Do you think that the Constitutional Convention could possibly have been a successful endeavor without the Great Compromise that created the two-house legislature that we have today? Neither side had to entirely give in to the other side, yet they managed to reach an agreement that ultimately satisfied both sides. Since the founding of the United States, its people have been compromising, which has been a necessary part of maintaining a functioning government. We need to find that middle ground again so that we can work together to solve the very real problems facing the United States. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”

We are the younger generation, and if we don’t hold our leaders responsible for doing their jobs, we will be the ones suffering the consequences as we desperately try to fix the economy and the environment years from now. Politicians’ decisions affect all of us, even if we’re not legally old enough to vote in elections. It’s important to be proactive and pay attention now, so that when it comes time for us to step into that voting booth, we can make the decisions that will most benefit us and our country.

Justice Namaste is a senior at Williamsville East High School.