I just don’t understand it.
In fact, I’ve never understood it. From the moment I hit voting age, I started voting and I haven’t stopped.
If I could vote every day, I would. It’s the very best way to amplify your voice in our democratic society and it’s much more effective than taking part in a march or rally. Hold that thought.
Why is it so hard for people to get out and vote? Is it voter suppression? Voter intimidation? Voter fraud?
I don’t think so. Wouldn’t folks have to actually SHOW UP at polling places for those things to be true factors? I mean, in order to bully someone, you have to KNOW they actually exist.
Let’s recount a few of the reasons that people often give for not voting …
“Oh, I just don’t have time!”
“UGH! I don’t want to mess with that!”
“I don’t know who to vote for because I don’t like ANY of them!”
“My little vote won’t make any difference!”
“They put who they want in there!”
“I don’t know where my voting place is!”
“I don’t know any of those names!”
“I just don’t like the two-party system!”
Can’t you just hear the snarky tone in most of those statements?
Might I remind you that this is partly how dictators rise to power? More on that in a moment.
Voting is by far and away, the most powerful thing you can do in a democracy. In fact, our democracy totally relies on it and yet, so many of us just cannot be bothered.
The fact that we live in a society where we have the freedom to speak our minds and make our own choices speaks to the fact that we’re behaving like spoiled and entitled children (I’m tempted to say “brats,” but name calling doesn’t help) when we choose NOT to vote.
How? Let’s break this down.
Suppose you drive a car that has a three-year lease. Everyone knows that at the end of that lease, per your legal agreement, you must either buy the car or return it because you don’t actually own the vehicle. But you decide that you love the car and want to continue to enjoy it. However, you don’t want to buy it and you don’t want to sign another lease.
Well … you’ve got a big problem here.
That problem isn’t the car or the dealership or the bank. The problem is YOU. You have become spoiled and entitled because you think you should be able to continue to enjoy the car because you did so in the past.
That is the very definition of “entitled.” It’s believing that you should continue to have something simply because you’re “you” and that’s how it has always been. You want it “your way.”
Same thing with voting – or not voting. I cannot figure out how so many Americans think they can continue to enjoy most of the privileges of being American, yet they don’t want to pay any of the costs – voting among them.
NEWS FLASH …
Democracy is not free of charge. Freedom comes with a price tag.
Nothing in life is free. If we want to preserve our democracy, isn’t voting a huge part of that? Don’t we risk losing the very democracy we enjoy by refusing to do the most rudimentary thing to sustain it?
I know … I know. You’re now saying that along with your right to vote, you also have the “right” to NOT vote. I get it, but here’s the problem …
All the rights that you have as an American were bought by the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before you. You may think you’re speaking out by abstaining from voting, but what you’re actually doing is taking the coward’s way out. You’re giving your power over to the unknown.
The fact that you’re turning your nose up at voting means that you are so accustomed to having choices that you totally take them for granted. Doesn’t this make you something of an “entitled brat?”
And on top of that, I’ve found that the folks who complain and moan the most are the ones who don’t vote. They don’t like any of the choices and yet cannot – or will not – see that actually having choices is a privilege that must be preserved.
Here’s something else …
Your apathy is actually creating the type of society that you definitely do NOT want. You cannot solve problems by “ghosting” them. When you don’t face problems and deal with them, you’re behaving like child.
In other words, you must SHOW UP.
If you look at yourself and decide that you need to lose 20 pounds, you have to show up for yourself. This means you have to start eating better and exercising more. Otherwise you won’t lose weight. We all know that.
If you want to go to mall, this means you have to actually show up at the mall. You have to either get in your car and drive there or take whatever mode of transportation that will get you there.
If you want to earn a master’s degree, this means that you have to show up and do all of the necessary things to get that degree. You have to apply to a master’s program, secure your financial resources, attend classes on campus or online and DO THE WORK.
Everything in life takes effort … especially the preservation of democracy and freedom. These things are not self-sustaining. Democracy cannot sustain itself.
Given that, many elections officials will tell you that 30% voter turnout is a pretty good number when it comes to most elections.
30%? That’s dismal. What on earth are we doing? Seriously?
I will never forget the day that as a journalist, I was working on a story about voter apathy. Needless to say, it was during an election cycle. I came back into the newsroom and started chatting with my colleagues about my story. During our chat, I was horrified to learn that most of my journalist colleagues in the room had not voted and had no intention of voting that time around.
“Oh, I feel like I’m participating in the process by being a reporter,” one of my colleagues said.
With that, I sat down in stunned silence and asked myself …
“Why the hell am I even doing this story?”
I feel like we’re losing our democracy because people are not engaging. And guess what? If we lose our democracy, it won’t be the President’s fault or the fault of Congress or the Supreme Court or the Mayor or the School Superintendent or the CEO of any company.
The responsibility will fall on our heads. And there won’t be any excuse. Voting is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do in your life. It literally takes minutes and you’re done. It’s like brushing your teeth. Maintenance.
In all my years, I can only recall a couple of occasions where I’ve actually waited on line to vote. And even then, the waits were five minutes – IF that. And these days, you don’t even have to wait until Election Day to vote. You can vote early or by absentee ballot. Many if not most county clerks and elections boards jump through hoops to make the voting process – easy as it already is – as simple as possible.
Back in the day, our ancestors fought, bled and died during sometimes violent marches and rallies to get us the right to vote. Today, we have the right to vote, but we choose marching and rallying over voting.
It’s a weird paradox that makes absolutely no sense. Marching and rallying may get us on Eyewitness News, but that’s about it. OR … is being on TV the real point? A childish move. No?
Also, is it the job of politicians to get us out to vote?
No. We should already know that it’s our responsibility to vote.
While it is the job of candidates running for office to get us to vote for them, political candidates are not entertainers and a political campaign is not an episode of “American Idol.”
Something else just occurred to me.
When you ask many men and women if they plan to vote, here’s what I think they actually hear …
“Have you made that appointment yet for your prostate exam?”
“I think you should come in next month and we’ll go ahead and do that double mastectomy!”
“It’s time to move. Let’s start packing right now!”
“Your 50-page report on the story of your life is due Thursday. Are you almost done?”
Suddenly, the person is all befuddled.
The prospect of voting seems to hit people in unpleasant and private places. We just don’t want to deal with it.
Look … this is America. You don’t have to heed any type of advice if you don’t want to. You also don’t have to vote if you don’t want to. But if you don’t follow simple guidance or vote during election time, the cancer you claim to not want will only grow.
You cannot “ghost” problems away with clever rationalization.
You know what? Perhaps we should just throw in the towel and get a dictator. Our apathy seems to imply that this is where we’re headed.
These days, it seems that when we do finally wake up and take civil and civic action, it’s long after much of the damage has already been done.
Perhaps a dictatorship really is the answer!
A dictatorship would certainly free you up from any civic responsibility. You could watch as many “Breaking Bad” marathons as you wanted. That’s assuming the dictator allowed you to watch Breaking Bad – or anything - for that matter.
What? You said, “NO WAY”?
Then ponder this …
What ever happened to “We the People”? Remember, “We the People”?
We seem to have forgotten that. We think that it’s hyperbole. Maybe we never really believed it. Could that be the problem?
You can blame the President or Congress or the Supreme Court or the Mayor or your Chief of Police all you want, but I’m afraid we have met the problem and the problem is US.
Sarah Silverman has this brilliant joke where she says – paraphrasing here …
“If you’re the type of person who always has problems with roommates … YOU’RE THE PROBLEM!”
People who don’t vote ARE the problem. They don’t think they are, but they are. They don’t want to face up to anything. They don’t want to be held responsible for the outcome.
They believe that by abstaining from voting, they’re somehow above the fray. No one will come after them. Isn’t this how children behave?
As I said, if you don’t vote, you’re as spoiled as a five-year-old who always gets his way.
I’m tempted to call you a “spoiled brat,” but name-calling would be so childish.