There’s a lot to dislike about election season. Campaign volunteers inundating your home with phone calls and solicitations imploring you to vote for their candidate. People starting flame wars regarding who “won” the debate, if that’s even possible to discern. The mouthbreathers who say “I’m moving to Canada if Candidate X is elected president.” (Quite frankly, those people should move to Canada, because they’re insufferable.)
But if there’s one thing that bothers me more than anything else, it’s the widely-held assumption that one must vote in the election, since it’s our civic duty and what not as the caretakers of democracy. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the chorus says, just make sure you vote. Because if you don’t vote, you’re not a true American. YOU’RE NOT ONE OF US!
I could not disagree more with this mindset, which rings with hollow jingoism. Many of the people who get on your ass about voting are the same people who complain when the State of the Union address interrupts an episode of “Big Bang Theory” in January. Because DAMMIT OBAMA, you’re making me miss out on the shenanigans Sheldon and Leonard are up to this week. I hate myself for knowing those names, because “Big Bang Theory” is just the worst. If you watch “Big Bang Theory,” you’re not a true American.
Look, I get the importance of the political process, I really do. We can complain about how we feel about political issues all we want, but we don’t have any credibility to voice such gripes unless we vote. By casting our vote for the individual we feel has the best vision for our nation, we can legitimize ourselves as informed Americans.
But what if you don’t believe either of the two presidential candidates reflects your vision, and you’re not delusional enough to believe that writing in another candidate makes a difference? Do we have to just suck it up, weigh the pros and cons of both Romney and Obama, and make a choice? In that case, my vote could honestly be bought. Twenty dollar gift card to Olive Garden, you say? Score another vote for ol’ Mitt, right after I stuff roughly 50 breadsticks up my piehole.
So long as there’s a reason for doing so, I think not voting is just as powerful a form of democracy as choosing to vote. Not voting tells the government that you feel little incentive for doing so, whether it be out of disengagement with politics entirely or out of dissatisfaction with the candidates paraded in front of you.
My reason for not voting in the Nov. 6 election is primarily as a result of my perception (which may very well be wrong given my general aversion toward anything political) that a highly partisan Congress will fail to execute most, if not all, of the measures each candidate offers as the linchpins of their campaigns. As slaves to their constituents, Congressional representatives recognize that if they fail to adhere to party lines, they’ll likely face greater vulnerability come the next midterm election.
Instead, it’s more prudent for politicians to align their platforms with party aims in order to capture the largest group of electors possible. And it’s for this reason that I maintain my stance of not voting. Just like me, everyone else wants their own opinion to be heard and put into practice, but if everyone’s opinion was heard, we’d never reach any sort of consensus. As a result, the most popular opinions – those that align with the political party that receives the most support – are the only ones put into practice.
And even those opinions might never be executed, due to the aforementioned irreconcilability of Congress.
I’m sure my perspective on the state of American politics won’t deter others from voting, as it shouldn’t. If you’re less prone to disenchantment with government than I am, and truly feel your vote makes a difference, you should certainly vote. Just don’t act like your decision to vote endows you with a certain level of dignity that enables you to harangue non-voters for failing as Americans. There’s more than one lens through which a person can view how they choose to exercise democracy.
So I won’t be voting Nov. 6, no matter how many times political ads disrupt my YouTube sessions. Some may despise me for it, but I can promise you one thing: I’m not moving to Canada.
Want to talk some election-time sense into Adam? Prefer to abstain from voting yourself? Shoot Adam an email at email@example.com.