The one New Year’s resolution you need to keep in 2016: Vote

yourvoteLose weight. Build muscle. Quit smoking. Drink less. Eat healthy. Buy less. Repurpose More. Travel farther. Do these sound familiar? Are any of these popular New Year’s resolutions on your list?

How about considering the one resolution that should be number one on the list but never even makes it into the top ten? My plea is that you write this resolution down before downing that first glass of bubbly and recommit to it even after the ball has dropped. Display the resolution somewhere prominent where you’ll see it every morning, and then do everything in your power to make good on your vow.

Fulfilling this resolution is simple. It doesn’t take months or years of grueling self-denial. It takes just a few hours or less. It doesn’t require shelling out hard-earned bucks for the gym membership, the weight-loss program, or the packets of nicotine patches, lozenges, or gum. It costs nothing. And, yes, the impact is huge. You could say it may be live altering.

And what is that resolution? To get out and vote in the 2016 election.

We all know that January 1st is the first day of resolution fever. Unfortunately, the sickness doesn’t linger for long. Statistics show that it takes only nine days for the majority of us to give up on the promises—mostly of the self-improvement sort— we make to ourselves at this time of year.

Voting simply cannot continue to be among those broken promises.

The shameful fact of our democracy is that among the developed nations, America’s voter turnout sits at the very bottom of the pile. According to U.S. Census data, a paltry 36.4 percent of Americans voted in the 2014 mid-term elections. Shockingly, of those voters just 13 percent were under the age of thirty—the group most likely to experience the long-term effects of political, economic, and judicial decisions made today.

And here’s another sobering voting statistic. In past election cycles, the median voter in terms of income level sat comfortably at the 66th percentile for the general population. With the wealthier among us dominating the voting booth, why should we be shocked that tax breaks benefit the wealthy at the expense of the non-wealthy, that income inequality is soaring to obscene levels, and that the interests of the middle class and the poor are ignored?















No matter what your age or economic status, think about the overall implications of the age and income gaps those voting statistics represent. If you’re among the 63.6–percent crowd who didn’t vote in the last election, take the few moments once you’ve recovered from the food, the drink, and the partying to sit down and ask yourself soberly why you made the decision to opt out of exercising one of the most important responsibilities—and privileges—you’ve been granted as a citizen of participatory democracy.

Then, when you glance in the mirror the morning after the revelries and every morning thereafter, take a few seconds before you brush your teeth or style your hair to think about the harsh truth that our political system has been hijacked for the benefit of the few and no longer represents the interests of the many.

And if the face you see in that mirror is the face of a non-voter, then isn’t it time to vow that 2016 will finally be the year you make good on the most important resolution of all?