A daunting time looms ahead for the American people as voting commences to determine the next leader of the free world. From the highest-ranking government officials to the youngest of voters, everyone has a different perspective on what it means to live in the United States of America and what the future of our country should look like. This election season is a time where those perspectives clash, both in the polls and in our everyday lives. Some people shy away from any discussion of politics for the fear of creating animosity. Other people actively support candidates through social media, rallies, donations and an array of cleverly-worded bumper stickers. People are separated, judged, and celebrated for who and what they support; however, Americans are missing the bigger picture. Policy is important, but who we have as president does not define us as a country. Soon, every president’s term will be over, and we get to elect our next leader. Each president is the face of the nation for the time they are in office, but throughout every president’s term, the citizens are the true drivers of the country. It is us, the people of the United States, who change our nation with our everyday actions. 

The presidential position might seem like an all-powerful role, but it is not. Each president is limited by checks and balances from Congress and the judicial branch. The president, and other members of the executive branch, primarily put plans into action for the country. Even though the president might have the power to take a given action, the judiciary and legislature are responsible for confirming the legality and appropriateness of it. This balance is one of the true powers of our democracy, because it spreads the power of our leaders. It allows the people a stronger representation because we can vote for the president, vice president and members of Congress and the Senate.

There is a rising argument that the checks and balances within the three branches of government are deteriorating. The Atlantic claims in an article titled “Congress Has Lost Its Power Over Trump” that President Trump is ignoring the powers Congress has over him. In one instance, Congress refused to fund the president’s wall along the southern border of the United States. This is perfectly within their power, since they have the power of the purse. However, President Trump bypassed their decision and, under the premise of a national emergency, illegally used other funds set aside by Congress with no objection from the Senate.

With actions like this happening within our government, it seems sensible that the American people should be concerned about who will hold office next. The president has power and if they abuse it, the American people seem hopeless to do anything about it.

This is not entirely true. Even if our elected officials do not do what we want for our country, we have power as citizens to shout against the government and live our lives by the virtues we want the rest of America to uphold. We have the freedom of expression. With this freedom comes the power to peacefully oppose the government. This makes us, the citizens of this country, immensely powerful, particularly in large groups. We can raise awareness of ideas and issues with petitions, marches and strikes to prompt not only policy change but also societal change. This might seem hopeless and small without the backbone of policy, but policy changes happen after the people create change at the local level.

We constantly interact with our fellow citizens. We create and remake communities, ideas and progress depending on what we do as individuals. Each one of us has the potential to change another person’s perspective on the world. It’s this formation of communities and prosperity of ideas that embodies the backbone of the United States.

Take a look at the MSU campus. People come together to live, learn and communicate their ideas freely. We create communities based on educational interests, professions and hobbies. What the president does in the Oval Office might impact our nation, but it is our day-to-day interactions that drive our society.

It is us, the people, who make movements happen, lend help to our neighbors and build foundations of what it means to live in the United States. I hope, when a president is inaugurated  this upcoming January, no one in this country will lose hope in America. Believe in yourself. Believe in your fellow citizens. We, the people, make the United States.

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