The writer lives in New York.
Four years ago, I went to the polls to cast my first vote. I knew that years later, I’d proudly tell a kid voting for the first time that when I was her age, I voted for Barack Obama.
For my entire life, people have come up to me and told me a story just like mine, except for them, it was 1960 and their first vote was for my grandfather, John F. Kennedy. These men and women came out in numbers to elect a man who challenged them to ask what they could do for their country, who called for bold leadership in science and space, who supported civil rights and who inspired millions to help change the world for the better.
Voters in 1960 elected the first Catholic president. In 2012, I voted to reelect the first African American president. Each was a vote for a man of principle and character, for a man who had proved himself capable and courageous and who would lead our country with a combination of dignity, compassion and toughness along a path of progress. This year, it will be with hope and pride that I cast my vote for a woman who fits that description.
Every young person, in age or at heart, should realize that Hillary Clinton is our candidate and that we have a responsibility to each other to turn out and vote. Too much is wrong with our country, our world and our planet for any of us to stay home.
If you think that climate change is real and that the United States must lead the world toward a sustainable future, then you have a candidate. If you think that inequality is too great and that equal rights are out of reach for too many, then your vote matters. If you think U.S. foreign policy is essential to global peace and prosperity, then the stakes couldn’t be higher.
This election will be a historic moment no matter who wins. It may be the moment when not enough young people turned out to vote — when we failed ourselves, abandoned our future and proved that everyone who said that we don’t care was right all along.
Or it can be a moment of triumph for all those who hope for a better future, who believe in American leadership and who know that our best days are still ahead.
The choice is ours, it’s an important one and it couldn’t be clearer.