It’s time to step up and fight the biggest threat to the American people. It’s time to fight the greatest peril facing the Catawba Valley community: apathy.

We were far too apathetic in November when less than 9 percent of eligible voters turned out for the 2015 general election in Catawba County.

Granted it wasn’t a presidential year, but there is far more at stake than who will lead in the nation’s highest office. Local, state and national candidates from county commissioner to the United States Senate each represent a critical choice for eligible voters.

Anywhere from 20-30 percent of your hard-earned paycheck is spent by elected officials.

Whether you want money spent on a wall between Texas and Mexico or to attempt a universal health care expansion, voters must make a choice. And if you choose not to vote, you lose all control over that hard-earned money.

We also see a state-wide bond, Connect NC, on the ballots Tuesday. Countless projects would be funded by a $2 billion bond – money that Gov. Pat McCrory campaigns will not come out of the people’s pocket.

The president’s office alone decides Supreme Court appointments, veto powers over Congress, the ability to declare or end wars, establish treaties, interact with global leaders, sign executive orders, and call for military action.

There are countless impacts each elected official has on the nation and its people. We cannot let apathy overcome us. The dangers associated with diminished interest leads this country, a country that was founded on democracy, to an aristocracy carried on the backs of middle-class citizens.

People of Hickory, people in the Catawba Valley, are intelligent enough to realize why this is such an important conversation. Our neighbors, our families and our friends need to exercise a right that has seen so much blood, sweat and tears to achieve.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 both endured a road filled with hate and atrocities. The Voting Rights Act prohibits "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right ... to vote on account of race."

So many Americans have suffered for the right to vote. Today’s generation must remember what was sacrificed and why there is nothing greater than fulfilling your rights as a citizen.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” Martin Luther King Jr. said.

We must let our voices be heard; we must not let apathy derail what so many have cherished.

In 2012, the last presidential election, 34.99 percent of eligible voters participated in the primary election.

Lackadaisical attitudes must be swept aside so our community can stand together, have an informed discussion about the direction of the country, and elect officials that will further the needs of people and not the needs of corporate entities or crooked politicians.

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