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Luke Helms: The Millennial Dilemma

For as long as I can remember, I've looked forward to the day when I can vote. It has long been held up as the rite of passage into adulthood. I've often combatted the argument from some of my peers that "my vote doesn't matter,” claiming that when multiplied by the hundreds of thousands of people, this argument can have devastating implications among the electorate.

I've always been determined to vote my conscience according to principles that most closely align with my economic, religious, and social beliefs. Now, in a dark turn of events, I'm being forced to consider voting for a field that I disagree with on almost every issue. No matter what I do in my first election, I will be voting against my conscience.

Democrats have nominated Hillary Clinton. A proven criminal, Clinton is the biggest political juggernaut of our time. A living testament of the show House of Cards, “crooked” Hillary is an untouchable elite in Washington. Apart from disagreeing with her on virtually every topic, my taste for her is further soured by the idea that a criminal may soon be my Commander-in-Chief. Needless to say, her history as Secretary of State leaves a lot to be desired, and her negligence before and during the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya makes the idea of her sitting in the Oval Office rather unnerving.

Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their nominee. A bombastic, rude, and arrogant showman, Trump has run a campaign on empty promises and anger as opposed to principle, substance, and civility. Trump has frequently insulted peoples' appearances. He has flip-flopped on issues so much that he's starting to give me a headache from trying to keep my eyes on where he stands. He seeks the attention of Bernie supporters, claiming that he doesn't need conservatives to vote for him. If you look up the definition on "how to run a campaign into the ground,” a logo for his campaign will be right beside it. Fortunately for him, an unsettled electorate has made it possible for him to seize the Republican nomination. I fear Donald Trump equally as much as I do Hillary Clinton. Everyone knows Clinton is dangerous, but Trump is a toss-up. This means he could be better or worse. I fear for domestic and foreign relations under a Trump administration, knowing that racial tensions are already being tested, and Europe is undergoing a fundamental transformation before our very eyes.

For the better part of my high school and early college years, I was "that guy" that would always say, "No matter what you think, your vote counts. Get out there and vote." Now there is a strong possibility that I will abstain from voting for President of the United States this November. I know I'll never vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and there's only a small chance that I'll vote for an independent candidate. On most issues, I disagree with almost all candidates. In this, you see my dilemma. My conscience tells me to vote. My conscience also tells me that I should vote for someone that upholds the values that I closely align with. If I've failed to make it clear so far, no candidate upholds the values with which I closely align. For better or worse, I stand with principle, not a party.

Millennials, in our blooming adult years, are faced with a "pick your poison" election. The reins are being handed over to a generation that has to hold their breath and pinch their nose as they go to the voting booths. Hearing from birth that we should always exercise our right to vote, we are forced to betray our conscience in one way or another. In this too, we are forced to choose our preferred poison: abstain and cling to our principles or vote and hope for the best of the evils to take care of our nation. Flip a coin, and hold your breath.

With this election, it would be easy to leave you with a message of despair or worry; however, I do not seek to do such. If there has been anything good to come out of this election, it is that people are intent on listening and learning. Even if I tried, I would quickly lose track of all the people who have approached me to ask me my thoughts on the election, and where their vote would be best exercised. This is my first election to fully observe the effects of an election, especially on millennial voters. Historically, polls have shown that of all age demographics, millennials are least likely to vote by a large margin. Although this trend will continue, I believe that the margin will shrink. The curiosity expressed by my generation gives me hope. I encourage my fellow millennials to ask tough questions and study the issues carefully. There will come a day when we are the ones handing over the reigns of the Republic to the next generation. To do so without giving it our greatest attention would be an injustice to the greatest country that this world has ever seen.