For the last 30 years during which I’ve been eligible to vote in any election, I’d never done so. I’d never so much as registered to vote. I’d never thought about voting or wanted to vote or felt there was any reason to vote. My view on the political system was that there would never be a candidate who would represent (or even appear to represent) enough or even some of my interests. Up until now, there hadn’t been. But that’s changed.
And so have my insights into the world in which I live. I’m not a over-reactionary, idealist young person anymore. In short, I’ve grown up and have a better understanding of how people function, both as small groups and as large nations. Maybe I’m not the only one who once felt as those who brought him into the world did, but then through individuation, discovered a markedly different viewpoint emerging from within. I awoke not to a vantage point rooted in what “should be” but what IS.
Though there are very valid personal reasons for some folks not to vote (and I thoroughly understand those), let’s cover some of the criticisms of voting that don’t entirely hold water for everyone…
It’s a lot of effort for nothing. Maybe years ago, but this view still presupposes that actually going to the polling station and pulling a lever (or pushing a button) is your only option. It is not. There are absentee ballots and online voting, either of which takes far less time than completing a Buzzfeed quiz. Way less. It’s practically effortless at this point. Unlike Buzzfeed quizzes, which are apparently quite important and worthy of many minutes of your time.
You don’t like democracy? That’s fine. I have major issues with it, too. But, not liking it doesn’t make it go away. It is the law of the land right now and it is the prevailing mechanism currently afforded to the rest of us. Of course, some will state (and rightfully so) that much of the masses are stupid, led, and prone to reacting to sensationalism. I agree. They are an element of the process over which I have no control. So, I don’t bother to factor them into my own voting decision.
This leads to the insinuation that this particular voter feels his vote “matters.” As an actually counted vote tallied with others to decide the outcome of who wins? Not a chance. In this regard, my vote is largely symbolic. It is me throwing in my (figurative, though inadvertently literal) lot with the candidate who both puts forth my positive concerns and equally expresses an antagonism towards my negative concerns. In fact, I’d also thrown in my lot with a certain religious organization with which some of you are familiar and, so far, so good.
For all voters, the sincerity of candidates is a bit of a dice roll. In fact, everything in your life is a dice roll. You have no guarantee that the woman in your bed really loves you or will stay with you or will not totally fuck you over. But, you remain. Likewise, your boss at work could fire you at any moment, demote you, take back promises, or work you to the bone. There are certainly other jobs out there but you stay with the one you have, giving your boss the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. That’s how ALL choices in life go. If you want to participate in any of life’s pursuits, you have to make choices. If your choice is simply not to play, then so be it. If my choice differs from yours, then get over it. Your solipsism doesn’t change anything.
If one candidate represents my views and the other is rabidly opposed to those views, then I go with the better odds. It doesn’t break my back or damn me to Hell to do so. It’s merely a vote. I do recognize that there is a sort of herd appeal to the election process, one in which candidates are treated more like favorite baseball teams or some other “us vs. them” competition. It’s pretty amusing. But, that’s their game and not any real concern to me.
What this election has accomplished, regardless of candidate intent, is that issues which were swept under the rug for the sake of political correctness have come to the fore and are actually being discussed. Issues which I consider important. Not necessarily the proposed solutions, but certainly the airing of the actual problems. It’s enough for me that, to some degree, the genie has been let out of the bottle. If an elected official actually does something about these issues that works, then that’s a bonus.
Overall, I have no desire to actively argue my specific personal choices with others whose personal choices are not the same. Traditionally, such devolves into a petty quarrel over whose position is more superior, replete with puffed chests and grandstanding, and I’m too old to care or want to waste my time. Of course, it’ll all be over in a few days. The election, at least. The issues will continue to rage and clash in open debate… as they should. These are, indeed, interesting times.