Just because it will color everyone’s perception of everything I say on the subject, I’m going to get it out of the way right now: yes, I voted. No, I am not going to say how I voted or what I voted on. That’s none of your damn business, but if you’re a regular reader or do a dive through the archives there shouldn’t be much doubt.
Now that I have that out of the way, let me get something else off my chest: I really don’t care if you vote. If you choose not to vote, that only increases the value of my vote by some small, practically imperceptible amount. But I’ll take it. Pennies add up. The fewer people who vote, the more each vote is worth, and I want my vote to be worth as much as possible.
If I were going to encourage you to vote, I would point out that if you don’t vote, you can’t vote “no”. I am a big fan of “no”. It’s something our government doesn’t hear nearly often enough. Vote “no” on as many things as you want, even if you have to vote “yes” in order to vote “no” to government (D.C., I’m looking in your direction, and I’ve got two ounces in my hand as we speak.)
I would also like to call for a moratorium on the oft-used and completely fallacious “if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.” You may as well say “if you don’t pay taxes you don’t get to complain about the debt,” or any number of equally irrelevant couplings. The sad fact is we all live under the same roof and obey the same laws made by the same government, and whether or not someone chooses to participate in the process of selecting that government does not remove their right to complain about it. Complaining is one of the few things we all get to enjoy equally, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social standing. Putting a price on that is ridiculous.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible for us to have the chance to decide whether or not to participate in deciding the course of our democracy. Certainly that includes the soldiers that have defended our democracy throughout its history, but I want to also acknowledge the others who don’t usually get mentioned.
Thank you to the teachers who have explained the process for generations. Thank you to the philosophers and thinkers who created and sustained a system that has endured. Thank you to the businessmen who have helped our country continue to grow and prosper so that we can continue to have a democracy. Thank you to the artists who have broadened our minds and given us a culture worth exploring and defending. Thank you to the workers who participate every day, not just once every couple years. Thank you to everyone who makes America a place worth voting for.
The politicians? They should be thanking us.
Early voting has begun, and so I have decided it’s time to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. I was considering explaining my positions on various key issues, but after studying my opponents’ campaigns in depth I realized that was the wrong strategy. Instead I have decided to emulate their approach and connect with you, the voters. I’m going to explain why you should vote for me, because I’m one of you.
If you’re young, hey, I was young once. I get you. If you’re old, I plan to be old someday. And if you’re somewhere in between, that’s where I’m at right now.
If you’re a man, what a coincidence! So am I. And if you’re a woman, hey, let’s hear it for the X chromosome! You’ve got one, I’ve got one, you’ve got another one. It’s like we’re half-sisters!
If you’re poor, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. If you’re rich, I want to know what it’s like. And if you’re in the middle class, I probably live next door to you.
For the white people out there, nothing to worry about, I’m as white as Mitt Romney. And if you’re a minority, I spent a whole half-hour in Southeast D.C. once, so I can relate.
If you’re a college graduate, I’ve been to college. If you’re not a college graduate, neither am I! I’m the middle of the road candidate America has been crying out for.
If there’s a cause you support, let me assure you that there’s twelve months and 365 days in a year. Depending on the number of votes you can deliver, I can hook you up with an Awareness Month or a federal holiday. Trust me, I’m good for it.
I have voted Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian. No matter what you are for or against, I am both for and against it.
I believe in the same God you do, which is to say I worship the Almighty Dollar.
I’ve been crushed by student debt, I’ve been crushed by credit card debt, and I was crushed when Bella chose Edward over Jacob.
I will never pander for your vote unless you want me to.
I promise to cut taxes, cut the deficit, save Social Security, and save you a bunch of money on your car insurance.
I vow I will not bail out Wall Street, I will bail out Main Street, and I always buy American.
I am The Boy Who Lived.
I believe in climate change, and I’m all for it.
I support the right for any loving couple, no matter their gender, to get a divorce.
I believe America needs to get back to work, and America works best when we all pull together towards a common goal. That’s why I’m asking you, my fellow Americans, to work to support me in my campaign to be President of the United States.
Thank you, and Almighty Dollar bless.
It’s that time again. Once every four years we see millions, nay, billions of dollars wasted on pageantry, spectacle, and foolishness. It’s not just the direct participants who throw their money away either, as every big corporation in the world wants in on this gravy train, even though the truth is most of them will never make their money back. But what the heck, the people do love their bread and circuses.
Oh wait, they made the Olympics every two years, didn’t they?
Well that’s okay, the people still get their Leap Year frivolity in the form of our presidential elections. Once again I am hard pressed to find much if any difference in the offerings on the left and the right, and I am astounded by the fervor with which others are approaching the coming election. I could sooner see for getting worked up over a table tennis match (that is still an Olympic event, isn’t it?) But that’s not what bothers me the most. What bothers me is when people find out I have no intention of voting and then they say something offensive like “if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the way things turn out.” Yeah, I said that’s offensive. Not just idiotic, but actually offensive, and I’ll explain why.
Consider what the average voter turnout is in our country these days, or even over the last twenty years (about as long as I’ve been voting.) Does it still hover in the mid-thirty percentile range? So roughly one-third of eligible voters are actually ready, willing, and motivated enough to go to the polls and let their voices be heard. And is it the responsibility of our civic leaders to inspire us to want to vote? Is it the duty of our elected officials and candidates to office to give us reasons to invest the time and effort, as little as it might seem to some? Is it perhaps the obligation of those who hold the power in the land to find a way to cut through the malaise and disillusionment and reach to the best part of each of us?
No. It seems that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our politicians but in ourselves. If we don’t pull the switch and vote for either A or B, we don’t get to complain there was no option C. And even if there was an option C, if we aren’t satisfied with that one, we don’t get to complain about that unless we pull the handle for one of the above. And that’s the problem with the whole system and those who give that simplistic response. There is no option for “none of the above” (a la Brewster’s Millions). In this “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” scenario, you’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the problem.
The message that these people, and our Most Beloved Leaders in both parties, aren’t getting is that there’s a lot of people who are dissatisfied with the entire system. I don’t mean to say they’re dissatisfied in the same way I am (that would be its own brand of hubris); rather they are, each and every one of them, dissatisfied in their own unique way. The only thing we all have in common is that we don’t like any of the options we’re being presented with well enough to vote for them, nor do we dislike them significantly less than the other options. Given a choice between a shit sandwich and shit soufflé, I’ll just go hungry, thanks.
But the system is rigged. There’s no way to step in the booth and say “a plague on both your houses.” The only options available both suck. The first is the one that is hinted at ever so obliquely by the people above, who don’t want to come out and say what they really mean because even they realize how terrible the truth sounds: “If you don’t vote you’re powerless. You don’t have a voice of any kind. Nobody in power takes you seriously. You may only get crumbs of what you want when you vote for the guys they offer, but if you don’t vote at all you get nothing.”
Option number two is to be out in the cold, ignored except as part of a statistic that is used by the nightly news and each party to bash each other over the head, when they’re not busy trying to shame all of America one generation at a time. “Why aren’t Americans voting? It’s a travesty! It’s a tragedy! It’s somebody’s fault who isn’t me!” “The young aren’t voting! The old aren’t voting! The [insert group that is more likely to vote for politician who is currently speaking] vote is being suppressed!”
Here’s a crazy idea. How about next time we decide to elect anyone for anything, we just have one election. One person, one vote. And we have it open for a week, twenty-four hours a day, so there’s plenty of time for voting. Only here’s the catch: there’s no pre-filled voting cards. No letters next to names. You step up and write down the name of the person you want to vote for. Get rid of the parties and see what happens.