Racist, misogynistic, idiotic, corrupt, conniving, demonic. These are just a sampling of the colorful adjectives I’ve heard used to describe the major party nominees for president of one of the oldest and most powerful democracies on the planet. 

Such a vitriolic campaign has fractured the partisan divide into a gaping chasm, with many conservatives denouncing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as a criminal, and many liberals condemning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as an orange-tinted Hitler wannabe. A veritable cascade of scandals has left about 60 percent of voters viewing both Trump and Clinton unfavorably and has even discouraged many from casting a vote at all. The grueling campaign has especially disillusioned young voters: 9 percent are still undecided about a candidate. Considering young people must live with the next president’s actions the longest, sitting out the election isn’t an option. Despite both candidates’ low favorability, I implore any politically disheartened college-aged peers to vote for the only rational choice: Hillary Clinton.

Voting matters. In our republican system, casting a vote can influence the course of citizens’ lives for years to come. To willingly forgo voting is to throw away a voice and waste the opportunity to be a voice for those within this country unable to vote, including children, those without citizenship and those silenced by often racially motivated voter identification laws. Whoever takes office in 2017 will have a dramatic impact on the rights of minority groups, college affordability, national security, the environment, education, health care and much more. In addition, the next president may be in office for as long as eight years, enough time for a current 20-year-old to cycle through a few jobs, get married and have a child. Given that the next president’s policies have the potential to shape my generation’s most formative years, this election is much too important for young people to sit out.  

Part of this election’s importance stems from the president’s ability to nominate future Supreme Court justices. Because of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and the advanced age of many current justices, the next president could appoint three or more justices. I cannot overstate the significance of these appointments: A liberal-majority court versus a conservative-majority court would likely rule very differently when confronted with cases concerning LGBTQ equality, religious freedom, gun reform, women’s reproductive rights, financial regulation of corporate America and immigration. Trump runs on a platform promising to nullify court decisions protecting a woman’s right to choose and marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

Trump also promises to appoint justices committed to protecting gun rights against even moderate reform. In stark contrast to Trump, Clinton would likely appoint justices who support LGBTQ and women’s rights and are more critical of the financial sector’s excesses. Withholding a vote in the face of a Trump-appointed Supreme Court represents tacit approval of the legal subjugation of the marginalized, corporate greed and needless gun violence. Don’t throw away the opportunity to legally ensure a safer and more equitable country.  

A vote on Nov. 8 is also a vote between two different visions of the country’s approach to diversity. Trump’s policies mirror his well-known racist rhetoric. On immigration, Trump plans to erect a wall spanning the entirety of the United States-Mexico border and detain and deport anyone entering the country illegally. He also plans to temporarily cease all immigration into the United States from countries with “a history of exporting terrorism” and require aspiring immigrants to take ideological tests before entering the country. Moreover, Trump has stated that the Black Lives Matter movement incites racial violence. In contrast to Trump, Clinton promotes an easier pathway to citizenship and plans to introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation within 100 days of taking office. She also plans to combat mass incarceration and police racial profiling. Clinton’s vast superiority on matters of diversity and racial justice means not voting represents tacit approval of Trump’s racist vision for America.

The candidates could also have profound effects on the future of the planet itself. Climate change’s potentially cataclysmic effects harm the youngest generations the most. Though this issue will persist long after the next president leaves office, the impact of Trump or Clinton’s environmental decisions will span centuries. Trump has stated he believes climate change is a myth created by the Chinese and plans to scrap the Clean Power Plan designed to reduce carbon emissions. Clinton endorses the Clean Power Plan and hopes to reduce carbon emissions by up to 30 percent by 2025 through expanded use of renewable energy and reduced consumption of fossil fuels. The coming generations most harmed by climate change don’t have a vote in this election, so it’s up to the present generations to elect leaders who take this threat seriously.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton champion dramatically disparate visions for this country’s future and I believe it’s highly unlikely for a voter to find both platforms equally unfavorable. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein exist as options, but their likelihood of victory leave only Trump and Clinton as serious candidates. I have presented just a small sampling of the issues people who refrain from voting effectively ignore. Though many voters may find both candidates personally unappealing, one of them will be elected Nov. 8 and their policies will have a colossal impact on all citizens in the years to come. I believe any rational person would agree Clinton’s vision for America would be vastly more welcoming and prosperous than Trump’s.

So for your own sake and the sake of the country, I urge any discouraged voters to carefully research the possible futures for the United States on the ballot and cast a vote for Hillary Clinton this upcoming Tuesday.

Thomas Aiello is a sophomore in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

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