Why I Vote
by David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, August 26, 2015
“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
― David Foster Wallace
I believe in voting.
Democracy is far from perfect, and there is always room for improvement, but the older I get, the more I think it’s about the process. It’s an imperfect system, created by imperfect men, and we do our best with what we’ve been given. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to let the system beat you down, especially if you watch televised news. It seems hopeless.
But the truth is, you still have a part to play.
I believe in voting because it’s the one tool nearly all Americans have at their disposal to change the world around them. That sounds overly simplistic, but it’s anything but simple.
Voting isn’t about pulling the lever.
In order to make your vote count, you have to be educated enough to know which candidate actually reflects your values. You have to spend some time finding out what each candidate believes. How will they do their job and will you be happy with the outcome?
Then you have to actually decide what your values are. That’s not as simple as it sounds either.
As a society, we have been duped by politicians for years, probably since the beginning, into believing that a handful of hot topic issues define our values. You’re either pro gun, or not; pro choice, or not. But rarely do those topics greatly impact your day to day life. They are the smoke screen to keep you from worrying about the big issues.
Actually, I don’t fall for the conspiracy theory that politicians are all twisting their mustaches trying to figure out how to keep the masses quiet and stupid. It’s not quite that nefarious. Oh, to be sure, politicians are nearly all narcissistic and power hungry. They are going to do things that serve their interests first, and if that also appears to serve the interests of their constituents, all the better. Mostly, what’s going on is that politicians will talk about issues that make the most noise. Or they will respond to the issues that have the loudest advocates.
Politicians support issues that will either A) get them elected, or B) help the people who support them, or at least are likely to vote for them. It used to be that wealthy donors were limited to how much money they could legally give to a candidate. Now that such donations are virtually unlimited, wealthy donors are the only constituents of consequence. The voters are practically a fringe group, that matter or not, based on how vocal they are. This is how the Tea Party has been able to take over the Republican Party.
So, how do you get your vote to count? Even though corporations are considered people by the current majority of the Supreme Court, and they can give unlimited funds in order to buy a voice, they still only get one vote. You and your spouse can vote and you have more power than GE, at least in your voting district.
Voting is the great leveler, as long as people are interested in finding out who really represents them.
I was really excited about Barack Obama when he ran in 2008. I really hoped he would be a leader we could all rally around. I wanted the next four years to be that Will.I.Am video about hope. I thought maybe we’d all walk around chanting, “Yes we can“ and living in democratic bliss.
And it would seem, that so did a lot of other people. Four years later, we all still voted for him, but we were all a little less enthusiastic and maybe even a little disappointed.
We’d asked for a God and we only got a man.
Modern politics is at a crossroads. With unprecedented money flowing in, the 2016 Presidential Election is expected to cost $ 5 Billion, how we vote moving forward is going to have dramatic effects on our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.
You know why social security reform is a non-topic in politics? Because old people vote. You know why no one in politics gives a shit what 20-somethings think? Because young people don’t vote.
One vote doesn’t count for much. This is true. But try and think about it differently.
In a battle, one soldier can’t do much, and if he sees himself as an individual, as opposed a part of a larger fighting force, he can’t win the fight. But if you get a battalion together of like minded soldiers, they can win the war.
Like David Wallace Foster said, everyone votes. It’s just a question of whether you vote for your own agenda, or do you allow someone else to cast your ballot for you.
So you have to ask yourself, are you willing to let someone else vote for you, especially when that means they don’t have your best interest at heart? Or is it worth waking up 30 minutes early and get to the polls to be part of something bigger than yourself.
When you stay home on election day, you aren’t just saying you don’t think it’s worth your time, you’re saying you don’t think the rest of us are worth your time either.
It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to be part of a change in this country.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. I have very strong opinions about this, and I’ll speak to them at a later time. But for now, I urge to get informed. Educate yourself. Broaden your horizons. Be open to new ideas. Don’t be so frightened. Embrace the country you live in.