I haven’t blogged in awhile (bummer, I know) but today I felt like putting some ideas out there.
I don’t vote. I never have in the past five years I’ve been eligible to do so, and probably never will.
That being said, I am not declaring that all voters are heathens, or that abstention (my preference) is the best method of change out there. Millions of Americans vote, as I’m sure they did today. And that’s great. I celebrate the fact that nobody has a gun to their head telling them who to elect to office; more than that, at least the idea of having a say in who leads our cities and states is hopeful, I suppose. I could discuss all of the reasons people vote, but I think everyone knows why people vote; or at least they know their own motivation for doing so. And I am not trying to disprove one’s sincerity or motivation in voting. I appreciate your reasons for voting even if I do not agree with them. All I can ask is that voters consider why people such as myself do not vote-
Every time election seasons comes around there are people who say that “if you don’t vote, you don’t get a say in the outcome.” And this is true…logistically. Because I choose not to vote, I understand that my preference in who wins has no bearing on the outcome. However, I refuse to believe that because I do not vote, my opinion does not matter. Consider the Revolutionary Era in American history and the intent of the Framers. Within the framework of the Constitution (which would be another discussion altogether) is this idea that the interests of the minority will not be oppressed or disregarded by the majority. We have (supposedly) Checks and Balances, Separation of Powers, Enumerated Rights, etc.. All of these point to the notion that, just because I do not agree with the majority, this does not mean my ideas or interests will be excluded from the decisions of the majority. Now, this sounds great in theory, but this idea quickly spiraled into a bureaucratic mess in which the Party in power has no real restraints upon its decisions. If I am a supporter of, say, the Yellow Party…and the Yellow Party has just swept into office and controls a majority of seats, then I am thrilled that they will be making all of the decisions, right? In fact, I hope they make all of their decisions to my liking (or why else would I have voted for them?).
But, let’s say you voted for the Purple Party, who lost. Now, for the next two, or four, or eight years you will be subject to the decisions of the majority (Yellow Party), with no regard for your interests. This being the case, is it logical to conclude that you will then complain and grumble about the decisions made by the Yellow Party? Probably so. But the original notion… “that if you don’t vote, you don’t get a say,” does not exactly ring true for the losers, right? They voted, and yet they are not going to get a say. So they are in the same camp as the non-voters, right? Do we see how this idea of “my vote counts” is not always true?
In my opinion, voting gives your consent for the decisions made and behavior of the winner. You are telling him or her… “I voted for you! Have at it!” You might say “well my candidate lost so I have a right to complain about the bad decisions of the winner.” But, in voting, are you not agreeing to the democratic process? Are you not saying “these are the rules, I agree to play by them, and I will respect the outcome?”
So I don’t vote. I don’t give my consent for any candidate to ever claim legitimate authority over my life. I never give some politician my stamp of approval. The reality of politics, for me at least, is that I’m going to disagree with 95% of the decisions made by any candidate at any level. This is not an exaggeration. While this may not be the case for you, and let’s say you are only unhappy about 25% of the decisions made by the winner (a conservative estimate), you have still given your consent and approval for those bad decisions by voting for him or her in the first place.
So, when politicians do what they do and make decisions I don’t like, I can rest assured knowing I never gave them my approval to do so.