Voting. What’s The Big Deal?

The editors of York Staters have a brilliantly matched pair of posts on the pros and cons of voting in political elections. Jesse, flying his anarchist flag, says he is not going to vote. If voters only have two choices, both pale imitations of each other, what’s the point? Natalie, believing in the possibility of reform is going to vote. She believes that not voting sends a message of apathy to the powers that be, a blank check to do whatever they want.

Please go check out both posts (and the many comments on each) because I have vastly simplified the detailed arguments of both authors.

I have always questioned the value of voting in elections, and yet I vote in every election, missing just one election (a primary) in 28 years of eligibility. I heartily endorse the following sentiment of Henry David Thoreau in his essay On Civil Disobedience:

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.

Voting is a passive action, perfect for the spectator sport nation that America has become: sit around and watch somebody else do something. Voting is the absolute bare minimum requirement for a democracy. Yeah, vote for a candidate. Then get out there and hold the winner accountable. Go to meetings, write letters, join groups of like-minded folks, schedule meetings with your elected officials, organize protests. It is incumbent upon you to get off the couch and kick the incumbent’s ass if you feel they are letting you down.


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