In the wake of the hate-filled massacre that took place in a Pittsburgh synagogue late last month, the breadth of our religious freedoms is up for debate. Meanwhile, many people of faith are looking toward the heavens and fearfully questioning whether their place of worship will be the next target.
With Donald Trump leading by poor example in openly attacking the Islam faith and lumping all Muslims into the generalized category of “terrorists” throughout his term as president, these fears concerning religious safety and freedom are justified.
In the days following the shooting, many Americans did what they believed was their duty post-tragedy — turning to social media to express condolences to the families of victims. But are these 280 or fewer character tweets and Facebook posts really making as much of an impact as we like to tell ourselves?
Ben Orbach, a guest columnist for CNN, claims otherwise in an opinion article he wrote last week. Orbach grew up in Squirrel Hill, which is the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the synagogue shooting occurred, and while living there was active in Judaism. He attended Jewish elementary school and several bar and bat mitzvahs at the Tree of Life synagogue, according to the CNN article.
“We want your vote, not your condolences,” Orbach said.
With today being the 2018 midterm elections, we stand with Orbach, members of the Jewish community and all individuals who feel threatened by those who govern us, in encouraging you to go out and vote.
Many voters — and young people in particular — think voting during the midterms is not worth it because their voices do not make a difference; this can be seen in the numbers.
Approximately 20 percent less of the eligible voter population comes out to vote during midterms than during presidential elections, according to FairVote.
However, voting during the presidential election is not our only civic right and duty. Voting during midterms is our responsibility too. The midterm elections give us the opportunity to elect representatives who advocate for issues that we are passionate about, and representatives we trust to make decisions for us.
We need representatives who will act with respect and consideration of the people’s needs. And even more so, we need representatives who aim to unite us in our differences rather than make people feel afraid or ashamed of their differing identities.
“In this election and the next, we have to demand that our elected officials represent the values that we uphold, enshrined in our Bill of Rights, which they swear an oath to protect,” Orbach wrote. “These crimes against the soul of our country can only begin to end when we rebuke this administration at the ballot box.”
As it has been said, if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. Which will you be a part of this Election Day?