Toe to toe: Embrace your rights, don’t disgrace them

Election time is coming in the United States and with this year’s election being frustrating for many Americans, the best way to change things is to go down to the ballot box and vote.

The right to vote has sparked revolutions throughout history. The United States fought for independence from the British Empire for this right. The Revolutionary War created the United States and over time, we became the country we are today, a democratic society that values freedom, liberty and justice.

Women marched through the streets protesting their right to vote after the first world war, and it wasn’t until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote in the United States at a national level.

Moreover, African Americans were able to vote in national elections since 1870, but in some states, they weren’t given the full right to vote in local elections until the 1960’s. A lot of our grandparents were alive during this time, and they can still remember the protests led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thousands have died around the world for the right to vote, and in some places, the fight continues to this day for universal suffrage. Throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia people have risen up to demand their voice be heard.

Saudi Arabia is listed as one of the least free countries in the world. It was only in 2015 that women in Saudi Arabia were given the right to vote or hold office which is a massive step-up for our ally in the Middle East. However, women can only vote and hold office in local elections and are still prohibited from doing so in national elections.

In Brunei, a country in Southeast Asia, all elections have been suspended since 1965 on a national level. Men and women both have the right to vote in local elections, but anything on a federal level is all controlled by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is the absolute monarch of the island nation.

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In the United Arab Emirates, known by their largest city Dubai, men and women alike have limited suffrage. The country is a monarchy and has been rated as being one of the least free countries in the world. In fact, the United Arab Emirates even has a dress code for its citizens “requesting” them to wear certain clothes when they go places. For example, women have to cover their shoulders and knees when going out in public.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

Voting allows your voice to be heard. Your one vote can make a difference and create changes in your community. The entire point of a democratic society is for people to vote on the issues they want to change, and if you don’t vote, in my opinion, you have no right to complain about politics. You gave up the right to be angry about our countries policies and laws when you didn’t go to the ballet to let your opinion be heard.

However, if you do vote and it doesn’t go your way, you are given the freedom to complain, but if you don’t vote and you complain because what you wanted to happen didn’t, please be aware that you gave up that right when you failed to exercise your right to vote.