"Vote Or Die"? Whoa.
I hate Election Day. For many of the reasons Summer mentioned in her brilliant post but also because it brings out the worse in some people. These are the political zealots who believe that the world will end if everyone with a pulse doesn’t manage to find their way to a poll site. They believe, in short that you are committing a crime against humanity by not exercising your right to vote. Indeed, you’re a worse human being if you don’t have one of those snazzy stickers to wear with pride.
I often vacillate between the idea that everyone who is still possessed of their right to vote should use it and the idea that the system is so fucked up it doesn’t matter anyway. The Vote or Diehards will have you believe that voting is a civic duty, sort of like paying taxes, an obligation we have to the government.
It’s not healthy to compel people who have no knowledge of what’s going on in the world to get out and vote. For example, my mother was telling me that one of her friends called from the election booth to ask the implications of Prop 1. She had no business casting a ballot. And I’m sure she isn’t the only person.
I got so sick of reading the status updates and tweets about how irresponsible it is to elect not to vote. No, it’s irresponsible to go and vote without understanding what exactly is on your ballot. Great, you vote but so what if the next person doesn’t.
If you’re so in love with democracy, come to terms with the fact that choosing not to participate is practicing democracy in the same way that casting a vote is practicing democracy. In fact, in a bipartisan system such as the one we’ve created in this country, not being counted can be considered a safe form of protest. Picking the lesser of two evils is how we allow the system to continue to operate despite its corrupt mechanisms. Refusing to participate in the process forces politicians to assess the needs of the people that actually didn’t get out and vote.
This is the same system that locks a criminal up, lets him out as a “gainful” member of society, taxes him but denies him his right to vote. If the right to participate in this so-called democratic process, is such a basic human right or a civic duty, why are there people who have (for all intents and purposes) paid their debts to society but are being denied the right to vote? Go and fight for them as for me, I’ll exercise mine if I choose.