Why Voting Matters

Today is Mid-Term Election Day and I encourage everyone to go out and vote.

I once had a conversation with a young woman who said that she doesn’t vote, has no plans to vote and doesn’t give a shit about politics. Given the way politicians and political issues are spun and obscured, it is completely understandable that people are so turned around that they don’t know what or who to vote for, but to say that they don’t even care to know and that voting is pointless makes me angry. With the minimum wage, reproductive rights, and voting itself actually being voted on in many places in this election, it surprises me that more people don’t vote. And it just absolutely boggles my mind when I hear people say that voting is a waste of time. What?!

I’m a control freak and because of that, I am often flabbergasted by anyone willfully abdicating control over their own destiny. As a kid, I was often subject to the whims of people who could not be trusted with authority of any sort. As I grew older, I became “rebellious” and “argumentative” when I disagreed with the adults who were in charge. I use quotations because those were words others used to describe my behavior when I openly questioned their knowledge and “wisdom.” I’m not ashamed of this; indeed, I believe it makes me a proper American. I believe in shaping my own fate and I believe in protecting the inalienable rights described in the United States Bill of Rights.

I agree with the sentiment that freedom is not free, we must all work for it. It must be fought for, but not always with violence and bloodshed. The most radical and defiant thing our Founding Fathers did was state that they were done with England’s bullshit and that they were going to take up the reigns of their own fates. It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, and the Declaration of Independence is a very specific historic example of that axiom. That document was literally signed proof of high treason–an offense that is punishable by death in every society around the world, past and present. That document was not composed lightly or on a whim, it was done with grave and serious forethought and conviction that it was the only true course for them to follow to maintain their human dignity. With so many people around the world fighting–with words and with actions–for the right to decide their own futures, I believe it to be irresponsible to squander this right that so many have fought and died for.

Now some may argue that it is their choice not to make a choice, and I would partially agree with that idea, however, I might also point out that those people who refuse to even be bothered to vote are the same ones who grouse incessantly about how this country is going to hell in a hand basket. That’s like refusing to breathe because you’re angry about air pollution–it accomplishes nothing and only harms you in the end. It is my belief (and everyone is certainly welcome to disagree with any of this –respectfully, of course) that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. You can’t leave the decisions for your life up to others and then turn around and bitch about how it’s not the way you wanted it to be–what did you expect would happen?

So, my fellow Americans, I encourage you go out there and vote. Grab your friends and family and even the occasional stranger and tell them to vote too. Tell the senators, governors, representatives, county commissioners and the like that they work for us and that it’s literally in their job description to listen to us.

Vote because you want your voice to be heard, because you want your preferences and desires and views to be considered. I know some people are laughing as they read this. How naïve am I to believe that in a country of well over three-hundred million people that my lone voice will actually be heard? I’ve heard that very derisive question, or variations thereof, by people my whole life and my response is:

You definitely won’t be heard if you remain silent.

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