Andrew Mishler writes Glass Half Something for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the paper or The Daily.
Prior to Tuesday, I thought my friends on Facebook and the people I follow on Twitter would have understood a person’s right to free speech.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Every other time I updated my social media feeds throughout the Election Day process, a new post popped up saying if a person didn’t vote, they didn’t have the right to complain about which candidates won.
And I thought the politicians were contradicting.
A person’s ability to vote is not the greatest quality under the United States democracy. It’s their ability not to vote — their ability to choose.
That’s because every day, whether it is deciding to vote or to attend class, we make countless choices.
We choose to put off our homework until after we play video games. We choose to get fast food instead of making dinner. And we choose to complain about whatever we would like to complain about.
The meanings of these choices, and an American citizen’s right to make them, get lost in the heat of every election season.
It would be hypocritical to ask voters to stop berating non-voters for voicing their opinions, because obviously, voters have their right to voice their own opinions. It’s in the First Amendment; it’s free speech.
But at a time when Americans just exercised their right to vote or not and are still in the process of exercising their right to complain or not, remember that none of these choices limit a person’s freedom of speech.
However, if you really want to change the country, your vote is a facet to do so. People also can do more than just vote.
As we wait for the next election, consider joining student political groups. Read the news often to stay updated on current issues. Try to engage your friends in healthy debates when the time is appropriate. While you educate yourself, you may help educate them.
Your efforts may even help bring the change you want to see.
But still, people can complain all they want, no matter what they did Tuesday.
That choice may be their most powerful right of all.