Republican Committee Selects Essay Winners

The Richland County Republican Central Committee is excited to announce its Scholarship Essay Winners for 2024. Ella Norby was third place, Corben Holler was second and Hannah Karren earned first. Theme was "Why is it Important to Vote" at the Lincoln Reagan Dinner in Sidney Thursday in front of community members and local, state and national candidates.

The following is the winning entry by Hannah Karren.

America was established by, of, and for the people, something we, as its citizens, take a lot of pride in. Supposed to be led by politicians who know the issues of the citizens and are willing to fight for them, true men of the people! But this begs the question: Why don't we see that today?

There are a lot of factors about this, but the one I'm going to focus on is a little thing called Voter Turnout. Now, we Americans love our elections, don't we? The thought of people being able to influence who controls our laws, our government, and our daily lives? Amazing, but what happens when people simply don't show up to do their part?

For presidential elections, we use a system called the Electoral College, with 538 total votes. A candidate needs 270 to win. In 2020, Donald Trump, the lead Republican, got 232 of these votes, with his opponent, Joe Biden, getting 306. I want you to imagine something for me though. If every single eligible voter who did not vote for either of these two candidates were said to vote for a third candidate, which we'll call "Did not vote", that candidate would get 193 votes out of 538. Isn't that just insane? Huge states like Florida, Texas, and New York would have put all their votes to this new candidate. Only two-thirds of the nation decided to mail in a ballot or show up to the polls, and do you want to know something even crazier? That was the record high for the nation since the year 1900! If we take our new candidate, "Did not vote" to the 2016 election, it would have won an astonishing 471 electoral votes, the most landslide election since Reagan in 1984. Millions of people, for whatever reason, decide to give up the power the Constitution gives us, our votes, turning their backs on the system that this country was founded upon.

I don't expect I need to explain why citizens shirking this civic duty is a problem, but we all must understand what happens to people who give up their vote. To see this, we can turn to another republic, one from across the sea and nearly two millennia ago: ancient Rome. Our nation and Rome are incredibly similar, as Rome inspired many features of our own Constitution, including checks and balances, having two sections of congress, term limits, and age requirements. Many of our government terms are from the Roman constitution as well: words like senate, capitol, and committee. But here's the issue: If our country was built like Rome, it only makes sense that it will fall like Rome. Here's how it went down.

Roman poet Juvenal writes in the first century AD, seeing the new age of totalitarian leaders and the fall of the republic, "The mob that used to grant power, high office, the legions, everything, curtails its desires, and reveals its anxiety for two things only, Panem et Circenses." 

Bread and Circuses. Words that are relevant in our society more so than ever. In our new digital age, people are pulled into the distractions left and right, not bothering to lift their heads and influence the government of their own country. Living in willful ignorance of how our country works, or getting caught up in every rally and hating the other side, will only bring further destruction upon us, and America will fall, just like Rome. I ask you all tonight, when the election this year rolls around, to look deeply into it, and consider your responsibility to grant such power, such high office, as heavy as it truly is! I ask, encourage friends and family who otherwise wouldn't to vote! Otherwise, America as we know it could fall, and the democracy we've sung about with pride for nearly 250 years will become nothing but a tall tale I'd tell my children or my children's children.

I don't want to speak of this age as some impossible time to a generation who couldn't even fathom a time where the people could have chosen their government, but simply chose not to! Will America fall to itself, anxious only for bread and circuses? A democracy, a Government made By, Of, and For us, only works when We The People will help it work! As a young citizen, I am determined to vote this year, and I hope you all can make the same commitment with me! We have the power of our great nation on our shoulders, and it is our duty, and our joy, to bear it. 


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