Jennifer Meinhardt, Contributor
This morning I checked the news and saw a headline talking about how 13,000 immigrant children were now being held in a tent city/detention center in the Texas desert. I almost couldn’t believe it, and I certainly didn’t want to. Detention centers in the United States certainly aren’t a new thing; the last time our country used them was during World War II when they were built to hold Asian American, particularly Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attacks.
These citizens were rounded up and shuffled into these interment spaces because the United States government didn’t trust them. Again, this was in the 1940s, and they were legal citizens rounded up from their homes. This wasn’t okay then, and it’s certainly not okay now.
This is not just a partisan issue but also a moral issue, and yet people still argue that the children came here illegally — like that matters, like that’s the important issue in this conversation. Make no mistake, these camps are concentration camps. These children are being held in inhumane conditions. To hold children like this is fundamentally inhumane, and any argument otherwise shows a deep flaw in the political and moral character of our country. Yet, there are people in power who not only see this as unproblematic but as a positive thing. There are citizens who see this as not only unproblematic but a necessary crack down on the illegal immigrants from taking our jobs (read as: Keep America White).
This is not the only challenge facing America today. Racial and income disparity is on the rise. Despite high corporate gains, the average American worker is bringing in less each month. According to Forbes, 63 percent of American families don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency. This is a problem that many high-seated representatives in our government don’t think is a legitimate issue; instead, it’s referred to as a “liberal conspiracy.” This is not okay, nor is this normal. Furthermore, climate change is barely being discussed on a national political scale, and yet South Carolina is inundated with water from Florence stalling off the coast and raining on the state for days. Why are these problems not being addressed? The reason is actually quite simple: the lack of voter involvement.
A classmate was speaking to me the other day about one of their club meetings. They expressed frustration that several very active members of their organization neglected to come to the meeting one day because of a voter registration drive they were holding. They explained that these people felt that by protesting their vote they were protesting the old hat politics of the United States, and that by not participating they were doing something profound. This is a common argument that I heard many times in the 2018 elections, and let me tell you, it is flawed. It is flawed because Hillary Clinton lost the election despite winning the popular vote, and a man who believes Latinx people and children fleeing from violence deserve to be placed in detention centers.
Midterms are around the corner, and our democracy is slipping down a steep slope into something entirely new, something entirely dangerous. Voter involvement will be the thing that stops this. Don’t wait for a candidate that displays ideals that align with your own. You’ll never achieve this; instead, you’re wasting your vote and contributing to a system that inherently injuries the already disenfranchised. Vote, people!
This article first appeared in the Friday, October 12 edition of The Echo.