Why You Should Vote for Mickey Mouse

One of LeadMN’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events aimed at increasing voter turnout among college students. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram

Making change begins with voting.

By Axel Kylander, Staff Writer

“It doesn’t matter.” 

“It doesn’t make a difference.” 

“The candidates are the same.” 

I hear these things a lot from my fellow students and I can hardly blame them for holding the underlying sentiment. Large swathes of the world are literally on fire. The country is swept up in the tides of pandemic and injustice. Despair towards politics, partisan divides and distrust in the system are surely at a peak. 

We observe all this as students; the future looks bleak and many of us feel powerless. 

But we collectively, as students, are the future – of Minnesota, of the United States. We are the ones who will fill the occupations of tomorrow, yet we are also the ones who live with the challenges of today.

Axel Kylander is the Vice President of LeadMN. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram.

My name is Axel Kylander. I’m 21 years old and I’ve been a student at Anoka-Ramsey for four years. In addition to being a student, I’m the Vice President of LeadMN, a student-run advocacy group that represents Minnesota’s 165,000 community and technical college students.  

One of the major initiatives LeadMN has been working on for months is a statewide, nonpartisan Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort for students. Students voted in record numbers in 2018 and LeadMN is hoping we can beat that record in 2020. 

At LeadMN, I find myself with a foot in two worlds. One is a world of policy and legislation, idealistic goals and practical realities. But the other world, my private life, is the world of a student, one where I read my textbooks and get nervous over exams.  

I talk with my peers every day and I sometimes hear the things quoted above – that there’s no point to voting. I’m not saying I don’t understand why people feel this way. I’m not grumbling about “the youths of today. I’m bridging the gap between the two worlds I live in to pass on this knowledge of politics:

One of LeadMN’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) events aimed at increasing voter turnout among college students. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram

It doesn’t always matter who you vote for. 

But ialways matters that you vote. 

I used to hear phrases like that and roll my eyes at the cliché. But now I see a truth in it. 

I’ve participated in advocacy to get legislation passed that helps college studentsThat work includes physically sitting down with legislators and talking about what they can do with their power to turn bills into laws. 

Every single politician is different, buthey all have something in common. Past all of thstatistics that get thrown at them, past all of the stories they hearevery politician is sure to pay attention to one thing: who votes. 

Not who you vote for, but that you, as a college student, are on their radar as a voter to win over by attending to your concerns. 

As a student population, voting is how we build our political power. Are you sick of expensive textbooks? High tuition? Struggling to have food on the table or a roof over your head? Are you like me, kept up day and night by mental health struggles? 

Are you, at the root of all of this, sick of feeling powerless, of feeling a boot-heel on your neck as you strain to reach the degree that our society says will be your ticket to a career and a better life? 

Student leaders from LeadMN visited the Minnesota state capitol for Advocacy Day 2020, during which time they met with state legislators to discuss student concerns. Image Credit: LeadMN via Instagram

Step one to changing that is voting because that is what the decision-makers at the state capitol or in D.C. notice. 

Get informed about all of the candidates in all of the races and vote your conscience. But if your conscience does not allow you to vote for anyone, do not simply stay at home. Go vote anyway. It gives you more power and influence to write in Mickey Mouse or Baby Yoda or whomever than to not vote at all.  

Because no matter how you vote, it sends this message – I am paying attention and I want change. 

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that is something politicians notice when deciding how to spend their time in office. 

Vote, then stay engaged and keep shouting for change. Make your noise with a ballot and then join us at LeadMN if you have time to make more. 

Vote and make the people able to fix what’s broken in our education system sit up and pay attention to us. 

Fellow students – vote in 2020. Our future depends on it.