Every election is important. There always seems to be a dire air surrounding the outcome of any election. One candidate will lead us to the Promised Land; a golden age of economic, social, and political prosperity. The other candidate will invariably lead to the eventual collapse of America and democracy as we know it. This election cycle is no different. There is much at stake. However, more than ever a growing majority of apathetic voters are recusing themselves from the electoral cycle and proudly proclaiming that they are not voting. Here is my response to my friends, family, and random strangers I have never met who are actively choosing to not vote in this upcoming election.
You are not an individual. You may be exercising your individual free will by not voting but that action does not make you an individual. You are not a rebel, you’re not unique, and are certainly not above it all. I’m sorry that you feel that the government and political system is so corruptible and beyond repair that are you simply going to wash your hands of it. I’m sorry that even though you believe the government to be a hot mess and not worthy of your civic participation, you still expect the government to continue operating on your behalf. I’m sorry that you feel the need to complain about everything wrong with the system and yet feel no need to enact change and make it better.
I’m sorry that you do not have the time and impetus to educate yourself on the candidates – local, state, and federal – and the issues they advocate for or against. I’m sorry that you feel that certain issues – whether they be gay marriage, birth control, the Dream Act, and/or health care – are not important because they do not personally impact you. I’m sorry to tell you, that they do, whether you can see it or not.
I’m sorry that you do not have the time to vote. In the age of twitter feeds, instagramming photos of your meals and viral YouTube videos that you must show all your friends, you do not have the five minutes it takes to register to vote. I’m sorry that honoring those individuals that tirelessly and valiantly fought for the right to vote so everyone’s voice could be heard is too much of an inconvenience. I am also sorry that the ability to vote early or via absentee ballot is not enough to mitigate the inconvenience of standing in line at the polls.
You are not throwing away your vote by casting a ballot for the green, libertarian, or any other 3rd party. You throw away your vote when you disvalue the worth of your vote and choose to not vote at all. You won’t win them all; your candidate will not always come out on top. It’s a disheartening day when you learn that your candidate didn’t secure the victory or your party didn’t gain the majority in Congress. However, it’s no excuse to complain endlessly about how American is now doomed and will spiral downward into chaos and fiscal irresponsibility. It’s no excuse to inundate your friends and family with threats of defecting to Canada if your party loses – because lord knows Canada doesn’t have its own problems. The President, no matter what party they hail from, is still your President and therefore there to advocate for and be accountable to all citizens.
Perhaps if we spent less time vilifying other parties and their candidates we would notice that said candidates have scarcely discussed the issues that mean so much to us. Perhaps if we pressed our candidates for more concrete solutions and articulated plans for the future they would be less inclined to devote their time to smearing the name of the other candidate. Instead, we occupy our energies and time with birth certificates, tax records, and the “he said, she said” of politics. We get distracted in the high school student council parade that politics has become and forget that these individuals will make important decisions that impact our daily lives.
So in the end, I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care what party you choose to affiliate yourself with. I do not care if you choose a candidate from the list provided or write in a name. I do care if you vote. I care that you take a stand for something, whether I personally agree with it or not. I care that you take part in bettering America even if your answers to how to achieve that differ from my own. So care during this upcoming election as opposed to withdrawing into a disillusioned state of jadedness. Take the time, register, and vote.
Concerned activist, educator, ginger, and voter.
Post written by Christopher Daniels. Christopher Daniels has actively been involved in the LGBTQ community for the past twelve years, majoring in Psychology, Women’s Studies, and LGBT Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Currently, Christopher works as a Community Educator in Reno, NV and is a firm supporter of social equity and true social justice for underrepresented communities and populations.