The democratic system of election in this country is pretty simple. Everyone gets one vote, everyone chooses the candidate who best represents their own personal interests and, at the end of the day, majority rules. Sounds fair, right?
The glaring hole in this theory no one seems to address is the fact that, despite almost universal suffrage in modern day America, not every citizen gets a vote. There are small demographics for which it is overwhelmingly difficult, if not impossible, to make their voices heard. For some of these groups, the upcoming election carries phenomenal weight, but unfortunately neither party can afford to champion their causes too loudly as the most direct beneficiaries of these issues will most likely never step up to the voting booth.
One such group deprived of their ability to influence this election by the technicality of age requirements is our children, namely those children being subjected to the abysmal decline of the education system. John McCain's education policy is based on the notion that families should be empowered to choose what schools their children attend, an idea appealing to voting parents concerned about their own children's future, but with exactly zero potential for the fundamental change needed to rectify the system. Barack Obama has focused his own platform on the improvement of school assessment techniques and efforts to support, rather than abandon, failing institutions.
While the economy has grabbed a fair amount of spotlight over the last few weeks, the demographic perhaps least advocated by voters is that which financial disparity had devastated long before Wall Street's demise. It may be legally permissible for a homeless American to cast his vote, but the technical difficulties of registration and education make this fundamental right a nearly impossible feat. Obama has responded to poverty as many do, by proposing to throw imaginary money at the problem through a billion-dollar investment in "career pathway programs" and a raise of the minimum wage that would be impossible for already flailing small businesses to uphold. McCain has developed more creative and financially feasible options such as the "Urban Homestead Act," which would transfer unoccupied, federally owned housing to communities for their more effective distribution.
The final two groups of citizens unrepresented in the voting booths are those who have the most to lose: their lives. Unborn children subject to legal abortion and convicted criminals facing capital punishment have no means through which they can make their voices heard this November, except through the informed decisions of their fellow Americans. Obama may not have the political gumption to oppose the death penalty altogether, but he has made strides in reforming the way in which it is implemented, leading efforts to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions to ensure the guilt of those convicted in extreme cases. In the case of abortion, however, the only thing the Democratic ticket will fight for is the right of a woman to choose death for her unborn child.
Come Nov. 4, the ultimate choice of what button is pushed or which lever is pulled remains your own, and the electoral system will play out the way it was meant to be played. Just keep these often overlooked issues in mind, along with the knowledge that your decision affects more than just yourself, and the memory of those whose vote will most likely never count.