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.