My phone has been blowing up with text messages, DM’s, and even actual calls in the past week. I have also received in-person requests, all from people seeking an answer to the same question: “Why Should I Vote?”
I am puzzled by this phenomenon. Not because I am naïve to the reality that only half of the American adult population regularly votes, but because the question was coming mostly from friends who I assumed understood the reasons for voting and appreciated the tremendous freedom we have which allows us to participate in a representative government by selecting our leaders.
I was wrong. Whether through a misguided understanding of the role of government, a mistrust of authority in general, or a preoccupation with personal interest, vast chunks of people (particularly those under the age of 30) choose to disengage from the process of selecting the very people who will in large part determine the kind of society America will have as they raise their own children and grandchildren.
Since I’m part of “Generation Apathy”, I figured why fight it? It don’t matter anyway, right? The system is rigged. It’s run by the Illuminati or some massive conspiracy (remarkably kept secret by thousands of people in an era when every act is recorded and posted online for the world to see). I’m throwing in the towel. I’m joining the non-voters.
And for those who want to join me, I’ve created a handy list of reasons you can give for not voting also. (p.s. – this year, my main reason is number 6.)
My top ten reasons you should not vote:
10. You shouldn’t vote if you want to know what it feels like to be a citizen of most of human civilization, where the very idea of stating an opinion counter to the wishes of the king/tyrant/dictator would lead to your imprisonment or death.
9. You shouldn’t vote if you would rather catch up on reruns of Judge Judy than select the real judges in your county.
8. You shouldn’t vote if you would like to know what it was like to be a woman in America one hundred years ago. (the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution gave woman the universal right to vote in 1920)
7. You shouldn’t vote if you are wondering what it might be like to live in China today (Besides their pollution, which exceeds the US’s by 50% according to some estimates, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/11/03/361158/biggest-jump-ever-in-global-warming-pollution-in-2010-chinese-co2-emissions-now-exceed-uss-by-50/?mobile=nc you also don’t get to pick your leader).
6. You shouldn’t vote if you believe the US Government is run by a secret society of uber-wealthy shape shifters who hold séances to communicate with FDR, a vampire named Wesley, and four pigeons that were collateral damage of the Hindenburg tragedy.
5. You shouldn’t vote if you plan on never complaining about your government leaders.
4b. You shouldn’t vote if you want to know what it was like (in part) to be an African-American in this country 140 years ago. (The 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, removing race or color from the barriers to voting, was passed in 1870)
4a. You shouldn’t vote if you want to know…what it was like (in part) to be an African-American in the southeastern US just 50 years ago (The Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally broke through all sorts of barriers that the segregated South used to prevent African-Americans from full participation in our democracy).
3. You shouldn’t vote if you’re not really concerned about the future.
2. You shouldn’t vote if there’s a really great sale at Stein Mart tomorrow.
1. You shouldn’t vote if you’d like to tell George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Burns, Dr. Martin Luther King and thousands upon thousands of others who made your freedom today possible,
“No Thank You. I don’t really want your gift. Sorry you went through all that trouble, sacrifice, suffering, pain, and even death. I’m cool with not voting.”
I’m an American. I may have a romanticized notion of my country. She is full of flaws and failings. But she is free. I am free. Tomorrow I get to exercise my freedom by walking into a church lobby, punching some holes in a piece of paper and unlike billions of people who once lived on this earth, and billions alive today, freely choosing my leaders.
Don’t vote? I don’t think so.