N.C. voters can shape the election

Austin Cook

My first semester at Wake Forest was the fall of 2012 when Former President Barack Obama was seeking re-election and faced Mitt Romney. By all accounts, that race was heated, but it ended with the civility Americans are accustomed to.

In the eight years since then, politics in our country has taken a sharp turn for the worse — more negative, mean-spirited and dishonest than anyone could have ever predicted even just in 2012.

Amid all the ugliness and divisive rhetoric, it’s tempting to completely unplug yourself; to mute the noise, ignore the campaign going on around you and just wait for it all to be over by November. Except this isn’t 2012. The stakes are higher now than they’ve ever been before, because this election won’t just determine our standing in the world — it will have a lasting imprint on our culture, our way of life and our democracy.

President Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of catastrophe. Over the last four years, this president has torched every political and democratic norm while his Republican enablers, including Senator Thom Tillis, have stood idly by. And now, faith in our democratic process is diminished; our country is more divided than ever; and our standing in the world has taken a crippling nosedive.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus is raging and continues to take thousands of lives every day, even as the president’s own chief of staff just admitted that the Trump administration is “not going to control the pandemic.”

All elections are important, but right now, we’re in the middle of a five-alarm fire, and North Carolina can be the state that stops the blaze. We are the tipping point state of this election — the one that can pad the Democrats’ House majority, flip control of the U.S. Senate and completely block Trump’s path to a second term. We’re not just a battleground state — we’re the battleground state.

And that means students at Wake Forest have an enormous opportunity to shape the future of North Carolina and our entire country. If you’re like me and want to see a fundamental change in the direction our country is headed in, now is your one shot to help get it done.

The stakes are too high to risk waking up on Nov. 4 wishing you had done more. That was the feeling in the pit of my stomach the morning after Trump was elected president four years ago, and I decided at that moment I never wanted to experience that feeling ever again.

Over the last year of my life, I’ve been doing just about everything in my power to change the direction our country has been going in. But at the end of the day, the number of advertisements run, calls made or doors knocked doesn’t matter unless people show up at the polls.

North Carolina’s early voting window runs through Saturday, Oct. 31, and until then, you can show up, register and cast your ballot at the same time. And as long as you’re already registered, you can vote in-person on election day as well. If you need help deciding the best way to vote, go to iwillvote.com/nc to make your plan.

I’ve heard a lot of people say it over and over again in the last few weeks: your voice is your vote, and your vote is your voice. If you don’t like the way things have been going over the last four years, now is your chance to say so. There’s never been a more important time to get off the sidelines.

– Austin Cook (‘16)

Communications Director

N.C. Democratic Party