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Why Should You Bother Voting?

— November 5, 2018

The midterms are tomorrow. Why should you bother voting, when you don’t like the candidates and don’t feel like you matter? Let us count the reasons…

The midterms are coming up tomorrow, and while many new and energized voters are planning to cast ballots, you might be wondering what’s in it for you. After all, while every election is important (they claim), this one isn’t as crucial as, say, the 2016 election that resulted, indirectly, in tipping the Supreme Court to the right for decades to come. We already lost that. Or even the 2010 midterms that “shellacked” the Democrats’ hopes of continuing a progressive agenda by sending the Tea Party to Washington. After all, the Dems have had two years now to come up with the perfect unicorn candidates that would please every liberal voter, and, because such a thing is impossible, no unicorns appeared. So why should you bother voting tomorrow? Let’s consider some reasons.

You’re reading this on the internet, for one. Are you the sort of person who goes online for news, entertainment, shopping, research, and social connections? Then you may already be appalled by how the United States pays some of the highest rates for broadband while “enjoying” slow connection speeds and crappy customer service. Big internet providers have worked hard to keep it that way, attacking net neutrality rules in an effort to charge you more for less. Why should you bother voting? Because there are contests around the country that could change the tide as far as consumer protection, privacy laws, and net neutrality for a better internet.

Do you believe that there’s a place for scientific fact in government decision making? If so, you may have noticed the many ways that science is losing ground to ideology at all levels of government, whether the topic is climate change, gender identity, or effective medicine. Fortunately, scientists have started heeding the call to run for public office, hoping to shine a light in the partisan darkness. Why should you bother voting? Because science advocates need you to show up!

Are you disgusted by the fearmongering, the violence, the lies, and the resurgence of ideologies we thought our grandparents defeated in World War II? If you rolled your eyes at Evangelicals’ claims that Christians would be targeted for violence if the GOP loses Congressional seats while observing that victories for those who gave a wink and a nod to right wing extremism has only resulted in more homegrown terror for Americans, you can fight back tomorrow without reaching for a gun. If you’re tired of President Trump’s rhetoric stoking fear in the Republican base in hopes of electoral gain rather than trying to fix real problems, then why should you bother voting? To send him a message that his divisive tactics and lies will no longer be tolerated.

We’re surrounded this season by increasingly egregious examples of bald-faced voter suppression. Big ones, like the state of Georgia purging millions from voter rolls, closing polling places, and partisan gerrymandering. Medium sized offenses like North Dakota’s disenfranchisement of Native Americans living on reservations without street addresses. Even the little ones, like Atherton Jr./Sr. High School in Burton, MI, which is holding an active shooter drill while acting as a polling place tomorrow. (They posted a notice on Facebook warning voters that they may hear gunshots and see people fleeing the building when they come to vote, so don’t panic!) Why should you bother voting? Do it for all the people that won’t be able to do so for themselves and who are counting on you to make the best decisions for the country they live in, too.

The back of a white pickup truck, covered with various right wing bumper sticker sentiments. Why should you bother voting? Because this guy will be.
Why should you bother to vote? Because this guy will be. Do you trust him to elect the right people to represent you? Photo by norbet1, via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Every couple years, we come to a crossroads as a country. There are no perfect choices that please everybody, but a national vote is a blunt instrument, not the precision scalpel like local and state elections can be. As much as I’d appreciate a system, like ranked choice voting, that creates real opportunities for third party candidates, that’s not what we have right now. Instead, we have two choices. We can fuel the GOP’s vision for our country, which looks a lot like like what we see now: tax cuts for the rich, a trade war that hurts American agriculture and manufacturing, a filthier environment, and a measurable rise in violent hate crimes from an emboldened lunatic fringe encouraged by the President openly calling himself a Nationalist. Or we can rebuke that agenda, put an obstacle between the President and his legislative goals, punish those who would hurt the least of us, investigate wrongdoing, and set the stage for the preservation of our priorities.

Why should you bother voting? Don’t do it just because we’ve waited two years for this day. Don’t even do it for the naked Vermont women hoping to “grab them by the ballot” (NSFW!). Do it because you believe in our future, because your faith compels you to live in a good way, because it’s the responsibility that accompanies our privilege as Americans, and do it because it’s the way we enact change without fighting another civil war. And finally, do it for our decency as a country. Do it, to be able to live with ourselves. I will be, and I hope you do too.

Related: Rage Against the Dying of the Light


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