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“If you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch after the election.”

I used to believe this phrase wholeheartedly.

I used to throw it at people, particularly in these past 4 years, when nearly everyone was in a tizzy spouting off accusations that “Bush did it! It’s HIS fault!” I would ask, “Who’d you vote for?” “Oh, I didn’t vote. My conscience wouldn’t let me vote for the lesser of two evils.”

I would give them so much shit – tell them that if they didn’t exercise their right and at least TRY to get their preferred candidate just one more vote (which I naively believed actually made a difference back then), then they were as much to blame for the election going sour as anyone else.

It’s easy to make such observations while ignorant.

I voted for what I felt was the “Lesser of Two Evils” last election. I voted for John Kerry. I wasn’t proud of it then, and I’m not proud of it now.

If I were to repeat that mindset this year, I don’t even know where I’d begin. We will have Hilary, Obama, Mitt, and John. I don’t think race or gender is a good enough reason to vote someone into office, and I also really, really, really, really (imagine me typing this 100 times more) can’t stomach the idea of what the Democrats stand for right now. Mitt…well, frankly, he scares me. A lot. And then there’s John, who’d be okay (think of the lowest form of the word) if he wasn’t such a pushover when it comes to immigration.

MY conscience won’t let me vote for any of these candidates.

That’s a very scary thought to me, that I might actually sit out this election willingly. I haven’t had time to change my address with the election commission yet, let alone the post office, and while I was planning to do all of this on Thursday evening, after my stint at the DMV (where, perhaps, I can kill two birds with one stone and check the little “change my address on my voter registration” box…but I don’t know if that’s an option on the gun permit application), I feel no particular sense of urgency.

Does my vote REALLY matter? I mean, honestly. Look at the system. Does it? The electoral college in my state never represents my views, and I live in a city/county where, if the word “welfare” is mentioned, someone will ask, “where does the line start?” My vote almost literally doesn’t count, anyway.

I have almost no hope left for this country. As I type that, I realize that THAT’S a major factor in the stress I’ve been feeling lately, aside from the lack of sleep, change in relationship status, opera, and school. There’s one factor that I don’t feel can be changed by simply re-arranging my schedule or taking frequent naps. I can’t become UNapathetic simply by taking my vitamins.

A good bit of my attitude is my location, geographically, as well as my current occupation (student at a predominantly liberal private college). Memphis is like this cesspool…of what, I can’t say. There are some good parts to Memphis, but overall, thinking too much about where I am makes me physically ill. I don’t like my city. I can’t even say I care for it, or that I’m at least marginally glad to be here.

At school, I’m literally surrounded in every class by people fresh out of high school…people who have all this HOPE about changing the world. These people want to do things like volunteer for community service feeding the homeless. They want to cuddle the cats and dogs at the Humane Society. They want to donate clothing to Goodwill, and buy things from the racks just to be able to donate some money to the cause. These are worthy intentions. The problem I have with them is that these people also want to regulate these activities so that they don’t have to do all the work – the government, in their opinion, should do it for them.

I don’t think it’s laziness – I think it’s a factor of having grown up affluent (I’m a minority at my school, in age and socioeconomic status – compared to a lot of the people who attend, I’m old and dirt-poor), or having grown up in a church where your decisions were almost literally made for you, all the time (Catholicism). There are exceptions, of course. But for the most part, this is what I listen to during Q&A sessions in classes.

Like Luke Wilson in Idiocracy, I feel as though I’m listening to thousands of people chanting the words, “It’s got electrolytes! It’s what plants CRAVE!”, except the phrasing is more along the lines of, “It’s about TIME we had a female/black President!” People are completely missing the point of the elections.

It’s not to elect someone from a “disenfranchised” portion of the population. It’s not to break some old, white-guy record. It’s not to throw a middle finger in the general direction of a past President.

It’s about being proud enough of your beliefs to (theoretically) stand up for them at the polling machine, as well as in your life. It’s about finding a person whom you honestly believe will do the things that you feel would be good for the nation AS A WHOLE, not just for one portion of the population, particularly a portion that, let’s face it, kind of loves being disenfranchised because of all the free stuff.

I just wish I could make myself care.

But when you send out a message to over a hundred people telling them that you’ll take them to the range one time for free, get responses from 5 people, ultimately only end up making an appointment with one person, then realize that this? Is a perfect metaphor for any type of change or education in this country on the level of the general population…

…well, my give-a-shit-ometer seems to be broken.

10 comments to “If you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch after the election.”

  • If there is nobody acceptable among the major candidates, vote third party. Find someone acceptable, or even someone with no chance and vote for them.

    As far as I am concerned, this election is lost. I am voting for Paul in the primaries, even though I do not expect him to win, and even though I have some reservations about him overall. If he gets significant votes it will signal that his ideas aren’t fringe, and hopefully electable candidates will take some of them on next election.

    I don’t know who I will vote for in November, probably a third party for the very same reasons. I want to send the message that “I don’t agree” rather than “I don’t care”.

  • Vote, even if it’s a write in for John Wayne.

  • you’ve pretty much echoed my sentiments on the issue. I have little hope for this country because I see a bunch of brainwashed young idealists who want change. They want things to be done, but they won’t sit down and think logically about HOW to do that. They see government as the good guy and simply refuse to consider “unintended consequences.”

    Idealism is great, but not blind idealism where you ignore the mechanisms of change and their impacts not on groups but on individuals.

    I’m in a liberal state at a liberal University and frankly alot of these people scare me. I have NO clue how they ever got admitted to school. They have no common-sense and they act like bleating sheep. I feel like I’m in a liberal indoctrination center instead of the bastion of thought & free ideas that a University is supposed to be.

    I want to move to Vermont, but it’s just too damn cold.

  • If you don’t cast a ballot, you are still voting. You are voting for “I Don’t Care”, and that means you are partially responsible for whoever wins, good or bad.
    Just my opinion.

  • carteach0

    One wonders if revoluton is even a possibility in todays world, with todays technology, and todays social controls.

    In that, I find real reason for disgust and depression.

    Scary… I see features of both Ayn Rand AND John Ross stories coming true, and that is not a good combination.

  • jp

    Sadly…you’ve nailed it in this post. The depression I’ve felt the past few months has probably been fueled by all the coverage of these losers fighting to take control of our lives. Whatever you choose to do, let no one judge you. I wrote my hopeless post before even reading yours. Defeat is depressing.

  • Jon

    I agree that the notion of voting for whoever is going to screw us the least is unpleasant to say the least.

    I think the solution is to vote foe Ron Paul.

    Even if he doesn’t win, every vote he gets will draw attention to the fact that people want better. Even if you don’t agree with all of his policies, his notion of pushing government back to the states will put it where your vote will actually count for something.

  • Ma’am, you go to college where Jerry Pournelle went to high school. He has said, more times than I can count, “Weep for The Republic.”

    He has also said many times, “Despair is a sin.” The old guy has something weird and creepy growing in his brain, yet still keeps plugging away at doing the right thing.

  • Count me in with the people who say vote – and don’t vote for any of the major candidates.

    If we all did that, some of the talk about “sweeping mandates” would disappear, as they find that a quarter to a third of the electorate said “A pox on all your houses.”

    Would it make a huge difference? Short term, probably not – but it would make a point – not that we don’t care, but that we don’t like the choices.

    If we dont’ vote, they’ll take that, properly, as “Silence is consent.” If we do vote, and in the “none of the above/fill in the blank/3rd party you do believe in” someone, somewhere, will try to figure out what they’ve got to do to get you to vote for them… even if it was only the loser of the election.

  • Hey! I’m *not* a complete jerk! JTG sent me! 8^ D