Thoughts on Voting

In America my religion is my choice.  My place of worship is my choice.  My political stance (if any) is my choice.  We have many choices that are ours to make on these topics and many others and nobody has the right to tell me what to do or how to do it.

So I ask the question – Why is the subject of voting exempt from these choices?  How come every damn person, poster and newspaper I see is telling me I have to vote?  How come I’m supposed to feel bad if I choose not to?  Why isn’t voting considered a personal choice like anything else affiliated with political preference? 

I don’t trust either candidate as far as I can throw them.  I don’t want either McCain or Obama to lead this country.  And I do not believe in voting for a “lesser of two evils”.  I think when voting becomes a defensive measure as opposed to an offensive measure working for the good of the country something is terribly wrong.  I think the system is flawed, the people involved are corrupt and shouldn’t be trusted.  Therefore I’m not voting on November 4th.  If I don’t support someone I’m not going to vote for them.  Plain and simple.

To any who would tell me I have no right to complain if I don’t vote…   If the person you vote into office flushes this country farther down the toilet, I don’t think YOU have the right to complain.  I think you will be part of the cause and therefore I’ll be pissed at you just as much as the administration in office.  Remember those “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him…” bumper stickers?  Yeah, kind of like that.  Only I retain the right to say that about either candidate.  Folks, the political process is a crap shoot.  It’s an elaborate game of Russian Roulette that we play every four years and nobody knows how we’re going to fair or what’s going to happen.  For God’s sakes, you’re voting on POLITICIANS that you know nothing about except what the MEDIA tells you.  

“But J, what if everyone thought that way??”  

Everyone doesn’t.  It’s a non-issue and therefore you have no argument.

As a parallel to other rights and choices we have, if I go to church but do not take communion, do I lose my right to pray to God?  Certainly not.  In the same vein of thought, voting is an element of politics but in no way inhibits my rights of free speech as an American if I choose not to.

And furthermore, as much god awful, irritating, stupid and pointless protesting that has gone on lately don’t you DARE tell me I don’t have a voice.  If a “voice” includes using a swastika for the “s” in Bush’s name or making Obama monkey dolls (both equally ignorant, offensive and sick and both of which I’ve seen in person), I think I retain the right to my opinions regardless of whether or not I voted.

I try to keep a politics free blog.  For breaking that commitment I apologize but I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t vent somewhere.  Frankly, this whole election season has beaten me down to a point of apathy.  Before ending this little fit, let me reaffirm the fact that at no time here have I said people should not be voting or spoken negatively of those that do.  I commend you for seeing a cause you believe in and taking an active role in it.  All I’m asking for is equal respect for my opinion since I am regularly forced to tolerate yours.

– J

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15 Responses to “Thoughts on Voting”

  1. Ali Says:

    Okay, on this one I emphatically disagree with you, but not for the reasons you outlined above, not for the candidates you mentioned, and also not entirely because I’m contrary by nature. 🙂

    It is your unqualified right to choose not to vote. It’s a choice that I’ve made in the past, and for similar reasons, so I can appreciate that in this instance, you are using your “anti-vote” as a tool to underline your lack of affirmation of the candidate offered. Your rationale is sound in not voting for “the lesser of two evils,” and is a responsible take on the argument.

    However, I do believe that voting (as distinct from “choosing to vote”) in our system is not a right or a privilege, but an inherent obligation of every responsible citizen (and I mean “citizen” versus “inhabitant” in the fullest sense). Leaving aside the question of the politics involved, the political system requires it. I love that our system is not a democracy–in which a citizen approves or denies proposed policies or legislation–but is instead a federalistic representation of a democracy that vests power not in an individual vote, but in blocs of assumed endorsement. My vote, then, is not critical because of who I vote for, but for the weight of assumed assent that it conveys to the legislative body, the theory being that the representative I appoint is one I have endowed with my proxy, and that I will approve of his (or HER, darn it!) judicious use of that power in policy-making. Absent my vote, the representative is forced to work in a vacuum of knowledge–they rely on their own discretion without the validation of their district. (Which is great if you’re ordering dinner and someone gets stuck with tomato on their hamburger, but sucks if you’re ordering the affairs of a community) And, if the representative has failed to meet the standards to qualify for my proxy, my ONLY recourse is to remove that measure of validation. (I’ll save my argument on the metrics of voter assent and political party reactionary measures for another post. . . because I’m not THAT much of a geek!)

    Now, as to which candidate you choose to vote for. . . the presidential election is probably the LEAST important choice that you could make on your ballot. The executive office is glamorous and casts an assumed blessing over the political party that wins it. Screw that. (for now. . . ) In the past, I’ve consistently voted for a third-party candidate for the presidency not for the candidate, but to increase the government’s match system for campaign funding to alternate parties.

    But, to me, it IS absolutely vital that we vote, and vote our convictions, on the legislative and judicial offices that are open. These are the individuals that DIRECTLY draft the character of our national policies. They HAVE to know what we’re thinking, that they have our endorsement, and that they are accountable to us, on city, state, or national level. Otherwise, it’s just too easy for questionable decision-making happen.

    Whew. . . probably not an appropriate post for a blog, and hope that I haven’t offended (that really wasn’t my intention!!!), but I really LOVE the American political system, and it’s something that I have a hard time with during election seasons, when so much of what we ought and ought not do, and why we ought or ought not do it, becomes BASTARDIZED by the political parties and convenient catch-phrases designed to deliver a message to the masses and NOT to court the validation of a nation of citizens.

    I now yield the floor to my distinguished colleague from Texas. 🙂

  2. J Says:

    Ali – I’m not offended in the least and I appreciate you sharing your detailed and well constructed thoughts. It’s nice to read a blog comment other than the typical “Oh yeah, well Bush is a poopy-head” or “Nobama!!! lol wtf??” which (when it comes to politics) is about as deep as comments get on most blogs.

    What you say about the other positions to be voted for is completely correct and I agree with you. It is admittedly my own fault, but I’m not well enough informed to make good judgement calls there. I fear I would do more damage than good at this point. Again, beaten to a point of apathy over the whole thing.

    My overall reason for this post was simply to vent some general frustrations and ask people to show a little understanding for a different point of view. I don’t throw my religious or political views in other peoples faces and all I ask is that the general populous return the favor. In short, I just want to be left alone instead of having a non-stop assault forced on me everywhere I look.

    I respect your opinions and I thank you for respecting mine. Maybe, hopefully even, I’ll feel more inclined to get involved 4 years from now. Rest assured if that’s the case you’ll be the first person I go to for any major political discussions.

    J

  3. Jon Says:

    If you still haven’t decided by Tuesday, vote for me. I think it gets put in the paper… the write-ins, that is.

    On a secondary note, I comment here to express a certain annoyance at this election due to the political mockery on both sides. Well no man (in the English language sense of the term) is perfect or a perfect representative of a body of people, his views should not be entirely mocked on that point; nor should they be dismissed on his public presentation of them. If the media existed the way it does today back in Lincoln’s day, he would have never gotten elected either. Heck, we still make goofy mockery of the past greats through comedy sketches and routines. Can you imagine the impact that would have had on the founders of this country? Lincoln was a tall, gaunt, goofy looking guy that SNL would have torn to shreds. Our ancestral fellow Americans probably would’ve ended up voting for Booth, as he was an actor and likely much better at playing to the crowd (not on the ticket, I know… who cares). Geeze… what a cluster. Speaking of… I think this election has nothing to do with real politics.

  4. Popgun Says:

    Hi, J;

    Ali has a good mind, and she writes well. I agree with everything she said, pretty much.

    Choosing not to vote is a valid choice if A) you don’t know enough to do it intelligently, or B) you can’t see any particular advantage of one candidate to the other, or C) you know for certain that your vote will not have any perceptible effect. Knowing where you live, I’m guessing in your case it’s ‘C’ because of the overwhelming support there for Obama, against all common sense. That still leaves all the other positions to vote for or against, but the same probably applies to those.

    Every citizen does in fact have an obligation to vote, if that person can do so intelligently. In no other way can a real consensus be made. However, there is a major flaw in the system, implied by this statement. Many, many people vote without exercising any sort of intelligence or knowledge of issues and candidates to determine a wise choice.

    Check out this video for an excellent example:

    A lady at an Obama rally – The money line is “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage – if I help him, he’s going to help me…”

    This woman actually thinks she’s getting a free ride for the rest of her life if she votes for Obama. My point here isn’t about Obama – it’s about the lack of critical thinking going on here.

    I got the video link from arewelumberjacks.blogspot.com, and he also quoted Benjamin Franklin: “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

    We’re there, folks.

    I have put in an enormous amount of time in this election cycle to make my choice based on many things, ranging from personal integrity of candidates, to my understanding of economics, to, frankly, a desire to limit the damage. And yet my vote will be countered by someone, somewhere, whose level of competence is “I saw him on TV – he’ll give me free stuff – I’ll vote for him”, as in the video.

    Now, this is perfectly legal, and even morally right, because each of us must decide according to our ability – but no matter how you slice it, this level of decision making is not going to serve the best interests of the country. In this respect, our schools have failed to teach enough people critical thinking.

    This also heads up the importance of the political parties making their selections of who will run in the first place. Because they have the responsibility of selecting candidates which can win, be effective, care about the country, wish to promote the American way; and, at the least, do little harm. I think in this pivotal election, both parties have made questionable choices. No matter who wins, it’s going to be ‘interesting’ – like that ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.”

    So, voting is important for all citizens. I just wish more of them put some actual thought into the process. Because this one bad choice made by sufficient people can cost us dearly as a country. For instance, Hugo Chevez was elected President of Venzuela in a democratic process there – and look where they are now. Well on their way to a true dictatorship.

    -Popgun

  5. Ali Says:

    *awards Popgun her undying loyalty and devotion*

    Thank you for quite the nicest compliment I’ve received in a while (and one that will immediately be quoted to all of my friends, family, and innocent passerby)!

    And, J, I know we discussed this earlier today, but I did want to mention something that I feel like I missed–you are *exceptionally good* at not throwing political or religious views at others–it’s a very rare talent to truly be able to respect that others could have rational, considered opinions that differ from yours. I feel like I got a little focused on the theory of voting, and ignored the underlying emotions that you were talking about. In those emotions, you are absolutely and unequivocably correct. (Now, I just wish I was sure that “uneqivocably” was spelled correctly. Oh, well–if Shakespeare could change language, so can I.)

    Must run, busy making “JON FOR PRES! GIVE ‘EM HELL IN 2012!” signs.

    *sigh*

    Does anyone realize how difficult it is to constantly be mounting a revolution on this blog? Eh, at least I can use the villagers to canvas the neighborhoods and get out the vote. 😛

  6. Jon Says:

    2012?! the world’s going to end then.

  7. Jon Says:

    Oh, and my voter reg apparently never went through, so I may not be able to vote anyhow.

  8. Popgun Says:

    I voted for Nixon. Twice.

    Oh well, you live and learn.

    -Popgun

  9. Jon Says:

    I voted provisionally, so while I did my duty, I don’t think it got counted.

  10. Jean Says:

    You say that the “system” is corrupt: I say, of course it is. It’s a human system, based on human errors and flaws and prejudices. A presidential election, despite the media’s prime time glamorization of both political campaigns, was never designed to be a cure-all for our many socio-economic ills. The election is designed to allow us, the populice, to collectively choose the person we see fit to take our country another step. The implication that our next elected chief executive can be a white knight and our national savior is nothing more that the political machine capitalizing on our collective wishful thinking.

    That being said, I feel that voting is an obligation. It’s not one of social propriety or of moral grandstanding, but one of honor, in deference to the people who fought for our right to do so. There’s a reason that in 1776 people threw crates of tea into the Boston harbor and said “No taxation without representation”: they had reached a breaking point, and because of their courage and conviction, and not a small bit of recalcitrance, we now have the option to choose the people who will govern us, and collect our taxes, and spend our money for what we hope will be our greater good.

    We live in that legacy. In their legacy. Voting, to me, is our measure of respect to our foundation, to our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. I don’t feel that people ought to wait until they can fanatically following a candidate that they support heart and soul before thy haul themselves to the poles to cast a ballot – I think it’s just a nice benefit if you happen to feel that way. In the absence of that degree of passion, you’re simply left with more homework to do to determine who or what you can, in good conscience, support, but you’re not relieved of your duty to cast that ballot.

    I’ve heard the argument that one didn’t ask to be born into this country, and my response is, True. One doesn’t choose one’s nation of origin. One also doesn’t choose one’s parents, and yet you honor them because they deserve to be honored, simply by virtue of giving you life, and love, which you didn’t earn but receive all the same. Jesus Christ did the same thing: he provides us unending love and salvation, which we can’t earn, and he’ll do it time and again, just because he’s Him and we’re us. And we’ll keep loving our parents and reaching closer to God, because when a gift is given to an honorable person, another gift is returned in kind, to the best extent of one’s capabilities.

    The founders of our country provided us freedom to choose our leaders, those people who “seem most likely,” to us, “to effect our safety and happiness.” We don’t deserve it. We didn’t choose it. It’s our birthright, and not one of us can choose the legacy to which we are born. The fact that that legacy may be uncomfortable, or inconvenient, or even divisive, depending on how loudly you choose to embrace it, doesn’t make it less of an issue of honor, and character, that you take the time to ensure that your voice is spoken; that your ballot is cast.

    I love this country profoundly and passionately. I see its corruption and failures in the same light that I see the parenting of my parents: not perfect, but in a state in which perfection is rendered irrelevant. I don’t love my parents any less for any mistakes they may have made, because they are my parents, and everything they have given me far outweighs any harm they may have done through trial and error. The United States, individually and through their collective leadership, have made mistakes: some inconsequential, and some catastrophic. However, I still love my country, and I’ll still defend her if I can, and I’ll still step up and vote even if I hate both candidates or I just don’t care, because in perspective of all my country has given me, taking two hours of life every four years to make a difficult and uncomfortable choice on a presidential ballot really isn’t a whole lot to ask.

    Action, not apathy, is the answer to corruption. “All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent.” You’re a good man – I hope this doesn’t offend you, but if it does, I can’t retract a word.

  11. Jean Says:

    And on the above note, I’ll just say, sorry for posting a novel! The topic gets me riled up a bit. I’ll be shutting up for another three and a half years…

  12. Ali Says:

    “I love this country profoundly and passionately. I see its corruption and failures in the same light that I see the parenting of my parents: not perfect, but in a state in which perfection is rendered irrelevant . . . However, I still love my country, and I’ll still defend her if I can, and I’ll still step up and vote even if I hate both candidates or I just don’t care, because in perspective of all my country has given me, taking two hours of life every four years to make a difficult and uncomfortable choice on a presidential ballot really isn’t a whole lot to ask.”

    This is something that I will add to my Presidential Quotes book–in the Adams section! This is precisely how I feel. Thank you for putting it so beautifully.

  13. J Says:

    I knew when I wrote this post that my attitude was a strict minority. I did not expect or ask anyone to agree with me. I wanted to hear the thoughts of more politically invovled people and you have all certainly come through for me on that. As Jean pointed out, I have about three and a half years to think things over. Thanks very much.

    What’s done is done. Or in my case, what hasn’t been done wasn’t done. I made my choice to sit this one out, you all made your choices to vote. I believe we were all justified in our decisions as people with the same freedoms to do what we feel is best for our country.

    Dream ticket in 2012 –
    Jon for Pres
    Ali for Vice Pres
    Jean is First Lady by default
    After winning by a landslide, Popgun becomes Secretary of Defense

  14. Jean Says:

    Perfect! Everybody knows the first lady is the brains behind the throne anyway…. =)

  15. Popgun Says:

    Snort. Secretary of Defense. Hmmm.

    Seriously, it’s nice to see the evidence presented here that all you young people are putting thought into the principles on which our system is based.

    The election just completed was a popularity contest, not a thoughtful choice based on rational analysis. Thus my question:

    What percentage of the general voting population do you suppose has a good understanding of this process and why voting wisely is so important to protect our future freedom?

    -Popgun

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