In numerous posts here, I’ve hammered on the importance of voting. Regular, every single election, walking into the polling place, voting. I don’t just do it here or elsewhere on the internet, I do it in person as well. You see, if you want political action, if you want politicians to listen to you, if you want to be considered “the base,” then you have to vote. Otherwise, all those things you want don’t happen. But here’s the thing I keep running into, the biggest excuse: “I’m not excited.” Usually followed by a complaint that the party should pick someone who would “excite the base.” Mind you, except for presidential candidates they frequently can’t name who they think would be exciting enough for them. The result is that they usually end up not voting, and then reappear to complain because whatever they were advocating before the election isn’t happening.
41 years ago, I registered to vote. With the exception of two elections I had to miss because I didn’t meet the residency requirements – I’d moved – I’ve been in that voting booth every primary and election. The number of times I’ve been excited about a candidate or an election? I can count that on one hand with fingers to spare. If I want to add in enthusiastic to “excited,” I could probably put the number as just breaking double digits.
Most of the candidates for those elections weren’t exciting people. Even the platforms, agendas, or other things the candidates were talking about weren’t something to set you afire. The decision was mainly based on who you thought was going to do a better job, and whose ideas you agreed with more than the other candidate’s. On more than a few occasions, there really wasn’t a choice, there was just one person running unopposed for an office. But did you notice something? I still voted. Which is why I get a lot more attention from politicians when I’m talking to them, and why I get really fed up with the “I’m not voting because my candidate didn’t get the nomination!”, “I’m not voting because I’m not excited by any of the candidates,” and other excuses crowd.
I vote because I know something: If you don’t vote, you don’t matter. Politicians and political parties care about what their voters think. That means the people who actually showed up and voted, not the people who didn’t. Here’s something else I know: I’m not voting for just one office. Everyone of the “excuses crowd” seems to focus on the one person on the ballot – usually at the top – who they like or dislike, as their “reason.” Yes, this year I’m voting for a President. But I’m also going to vote for a Senator, a Representative, and state legislators. Whether I see (or don’t) an agenda I want depends on those latter three elections. We could elect a far left President, but if the right wing controls Congress, it doesn’t matter how liberal the President is. That’s Civics 100. How liberal my state really is depends more on what those legislators in the state house do, than what the President is doing. I can be as happy or unhappy as I want with the top of the ticket, but I know that it’s all the other offices that will determine success or failure.
The final thing I know? With every right comes responsibilities. You have the right to vote, it’s something that people have at times died to get for you. That means you have a responsibility to use it. No, it isn’t going to be exciting. Most responsibilities aren’t, but it’s how in this country you get things done If you don’t vote, you do lose something though, the right to complain. You see, don’t tell me your priorities. Tell me how you voted, and I’ll tell you what they are. If you’re coming up with excuse as to why you didn’t vote, then whatever you wanted isn’t that important. You’re shirking your responsibility, and those of us who are shouldering it are damn tired of listening to you.