Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Vote Just to Vote!"

"I don't care who you vote for...just vote!"

"If you don't vote, you don't care for this country!"

"Failure to vote equals the end of democracy!"

"Those who don't vote obviously don't know or care about the ISSUES!"

These are just a few of the things I've heard over the past few days as the 2010 mid-term elections have drawn near. On websites. On blogs. On Facebook posts. On the way to work.

So, today...November 2nd...Election Day...guess who I voted for?

No one!

Do I think voting is useless or dumb? Do I hate America? Am I just lazy?

NO to all of the above.

I chose not to vote today because I do not care what any of the candidates stand for. I am not a Republican or Democrat. Therefore, I do not blindly support either party's candidates just to do so. Why should I throw my lot in with one of them just to be able to say "Yup, I voted"? What point does that prove?

A rarely-acknowledged fact is that the decision to NOT vote is just as much an American right as being able to vote. There have been countries in which not voting is a crime and that if you didn't show up to vote for that particular dictator, you could be executed. So in essence, I am exercising my American right and casting my vote by abstaining.

I think one of the biggest reasons people get fired up by hearing that people choose not to vote in a given election is that it sounds as if non-voters are simply being apathetic. And you know what? In those cases, I'm right there with the people who get fired up! Choosing to be apathetically ignorant about an election -- while I guess, still an American right -- is pretty foolish and counter-productive. This is not the place where I am coming from. While I have voted in several past elections and will certainly do so in future ones, I am making a conscious choice today to vote by not voting, based on the evidence available to all of us. In other words, I am saying that I care about the issues so much so that I don't believe my support for any of the candidates will, in my opinion, produce any significant change for the better.

If you're one of the people who believes that democracy ends with our failure to vote, my advice would be to lay off the conspiracy theory websites, have a beer, and go to sleep before you hurt yourself. If handfuls of Americans choose not to vote for thoughtful, intentional reasons, the fabric of our society will not disintegrate and the constitution will not go up in flames. Let me put it this way: if you're having a wedding and you invite 200 guests and only 130 show up, do you cancel your wedding and decide to never get married again, or do you have the wedding with the 130 guests?

So relax, America. Despite the fact that a lot of people didn't vote today, Starbucks will still be there tomorrow morning.