You Don’t Vote? You Don’t Matter. Period.

In several posts here, I’ve talked about the importance of voting. The point can be summarized by the title of this post.   As I said in a previous post,”Parties care about what their voters think.  If you’re not one of those voters, then politicians don’t care what you think.”   Which is something that a number of people who claim to be “on the Left” or “speaking for The Left” keep ignoring by saying that people should “send a message” by not voting.    It doesn’t matter why you’re not voting, it just means you removed yourself from any say in what the politicians who were elected into office are going to do.

In my post on the difference between the parties,  I said this:

Republicans are moving across the board when it comes to attacking progressive policies.  We’ve all watched Wisconsin and Ohio and their assault on unions. Michigan with its “Emergency Manager” law.  Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama passing restrictive immigration laws.  Voter ID laws in states.    Attempts to roll back or do away with Social Security and Medicare.    You name, it Republicans are acting against it.

Why could they do that, when various polls show that these “aren’t popular?” Because the voters who put them into office wanted it, or at least that’s what the politicians think, because they said before the election what they were going to do if elected!  They don’t have to worry about the 50% or more of “registered voters” who didn’t bother showing up at the polls.  They only have to worry about getting the votes of those who will show up.

Now here’s the other part:  The Republicans want you to stay home.  They know that they do well when voting turn-out is reduced.  That’s why they’re making a big stink about “voter fraud” and busily passing “voter ID” laws.  It is not to address any critical problem, it is designed to make it difficult to vote!  That’s why this comment in the previous post irritates me:

A vote IN a system known to be corrupt is a vote FOR that corrupt system. Progressives, especially atheists, need to fight fire with fire if they ever want to hold their ground much less make any PROGRESS.

In other words, he’s trying to tell us that he believes sitting out is a protest of the system. That the system will keep on doing exactly what he’s “protesting” because he’s made a “principled” decision to not vote.  You know what happens?  The “corrupt system” doesn’t change, it doesn’t decide to address his issues, and politicians of any party could give a damn about what he – or those like him – want.  Why?  Because they don’t vote!

You think staying home sends a message?   It does.  It means you don’t really care about your “principles,” or your “important issues.”   It’s an excuse.   “Standing in solidarity” just means that you’re a member of a group that’s guaranteed not to vote.  A group which politicians can ignore, and some of them would just as soon that you do stay home.  There’s one other thing you should be thinking of:  If you didn’t vote, you have no right to complain that things don’t go the way you want them to.   Elections have consequences,  and if you didn’t vote, all you’re really saying is that you didn’t care about the consequences.

The only way to change things, whether you like it or not, is to do it from within the system.  The first step is to vote, every time.  Primaries and general elections, whether it’s a national election or just to pick who is going to be on a school board.   The second part is to get involved with your local party and local organizations.     You find people to run for office who believe the way you do.  It’s not easy, it’s not fast, and it definitely is a messy business.   You work within them, you have a voice in what the rules are going to be.  You sit out, you don’t.

Anyone who tells you that not voting is “sending a message” is right.  It’s just not the message you think you’re sending.  The message you’re sending is that politicians can ignore you, and do whatever they want to you, because you don’t care.   That’s the reality:  If you don’t vote, you don’t matter.  You want to matter?  Then vote.

13 Comments

Filed under Politics

13 responses to “You Don’t Vote? You Don’t Matter. Period.

  1. One problem, when it comes to the Presidency, is that an individual’s vote doesn’t matter anyways. The PODUS is decided by the electoral college and in many states the the primaries are decided by delegates, not a popular vote. In any case, I would revise the title to “If you don’t vote, and maybe even if you do. You don’t matter. Period.” :)

    You’re right though – everyone should participate. If not nationally, definitly locally. Vote for congress-people, mayors, city council, EVERYTHING. At a local level, with such low voter turnout, one vote really can make a difference.

    • Not quite true. Delegates in primaries are usually apportioned by the popular vote percentage, or (more frequently) as a “winner take all.” Electors in the Electoral College are also – except for Maine and Nebraska – selected as a “winner take all” based on the popular vote. As we found out in 2000 and 2004, a few votes can have a very large impact on who is going to be President.

      What also has to be remembered is that most elections are not “stand-alone” elections. We don’t have one election for President, and another later on for everyone else. Local, state, and national (Congress) offices are also on the ballot, along with a number of state/local propositions. In many ways, the other parts have much more impact on national and local policies than the Presidential race. In 2010, New York had the lowest turn-out in the country – around 32% of its voters went to the polls. Now, it was considered a “gimme” election when it came to the state-wide offices, which served to depress the vote. The problem was that several offices – including two House races – were extremely close, and results were delayed for because of the need to count absentees and conduct a recount A few more votes would have made a big difference in the makeup of the House of Representatives

  2. Amen, Norbrook. Or as I like to put it, if you don’t vote, don’t bitch. People on the left who don’t vote and then bitch about what politicians are doing are not a solution to the problem-they ARE the problem. And no, voting for Nader doesn’t count, IMO.

    • My attitude for a while has been “if you didn’t vote, you lost your right to complain.” Politicians really don’t care about why you didn’t vote, they just know that you didn’t.

      • I always tell people that “you don’t value your own issues enough to address them in the appropriate arena, so why should I value your issues anywhere?
        Or, “You haven’t put any real effort into actually doing anything useful, so why should I?”

  3. Thank You, Norbrook!!!

    You do realize that you will have to keep repeating this lesson for the slow learners. I have so many immigrants in my family who cannot understand why any American would ever fail to vote.

    When my SIL made his citizenship oath he was thrilled to get a voter’s application along with his citizenship papers. We stopped at DMV on our way home so he could turn that in. He said: “I can vote! I truly am an American now.”

    Keep up the good work, mi Hijo ♥

    • People around the world – and in this country – have fought and died for the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to vote in this country, and not until after the Civil War that blacks were (technically) allowed to vote. It took them until 1965 to get that into law to ensure that they could. But with the right comes the responsibility to exercise that right. Sitting on your ass at home instead of getting down to a voting booth is irresponsible, and a slap in the face to all those who fought to get you that right.

  4. Vic78

    I believe that if we can somehow get half of the 51 million unregistered adults voting, the country would get a little more blue than it is now. Pissing on the President right now makes getting them involved more difficult. I’ll be gearing up to get people registered shortly. I’m frustrated now so I can imagine how you feel having gone through it as long as you have.

  5. Chris Andersen

    If the person who says “voting in a corrupt system just validates the corrupt system” follows that up by actually working to change the system in non-voting ways (e.g., revolution) then I would consider them an exception to this rule. Even though I might not agree with their belief that only revolution will result in “real change”, at least they are actually walking the walk.

    But if all they do is stay home on election day and then post on a blog about how crappy the system is … well, then I will consider them a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

    • True, but I also note that the commenter called for groups to stay home “in solidarity,” i.e.; not vote, instead of calling for revolution. Then again, many of these idiots have this idea that “the people will rise up” and somehow institute a progressive utopia if things are made bad enough. :roll:

  6. Nathan Katungi

    Nothing new to add here, Norbrook , because I agree with you 100%. My comment is simply aimed at supporting your brilliant analysis of the way the political system works in countries, like the United States, where political power is, for the most part, derived from elections. Obviously I am not naive to think that only elections matter. There is absolutely no doubt that people with money exercise tremendous power in U.S. politics. Nevertheless, they do that indirectly by facilitating the elections of their preferred candidates. The bottom line is: educated and well informed voters can nullify the power of money.

    As you so ably stated, people who choose not to vote, thinking that they are sending a message, are more likely to get a rude awakening when people who vote elect people who proceed to pass laws that apply to everyone, including non voters. What’s happened in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, etc., as a result of the 2010 elections should be a rude awakening to those who preached non voting to send a message to President Obama and the Democrats. The same is true of what’s happened to Congress as a result of the 2010 elections. The holier than thou progressives told us that there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans. I am sure women, to cite one example of the current topic dominating the news, are quickly finding out that that was an blatant lie.

    Elections do indeed have consequences. Equally important is the fact that politicians respond more to people who are able to vote than they do about people who can’t vote or chose not to vote. As an older person who came of age during the sixties, I always remind friends and family of the heroic work by the Civil Rights movement to secure the right to vote for African Americans.

    One poignant example that illustrates the importance of voting and its effect on elected officials is the story of George Wallace. In 1963, when the vast majority of African Americans were denied the right to vote, Wallace proclaimed that he was in favor of “Segregation Now, Segregation To-morrow, and Segregation Forever!” However. 1974, when he needed to be re-elected Governor, AA were voting in large numbers as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In order to secure the Black vote, Wallace renounced his segregation views and embraced laws that promoted racial equality. Thus the old segregationist of the 1960′s turned out to be a promoter of racial equality because he recognized the changed reality. Unlike 1963, in 1974 African Americans were voters.

    • Another example is how, for many years – and still, to a large extent – Social Security was regarded as the “third rail of American Politics.” As in: Touch this, and die. That’s because senior citizens, as a rule, are far more likely to vote than other age groups. Any politician who messed with Social Security, or proposed it, was asking for them to vote against him. Since they were guaranteed to show up at the polls, losing their votes meant you lost your office.

      That’s a lesson for the so-called progressives. If you don’t vote or you’re not a regular voter, politicians don’t particularly worry about your concerns. If they know that you – and in particular, everyone of similar beliefs – is absolutely going to show up at the voting booth, they’re going to be all over your issues.