Monday, August 29, 2011

Be Sure to Not Vote

With elections just around the corner and political candidates starting to make their way to the front of the pack, many of us are really starting to put some thought behind which way our vote will go come November 2012. I would just like to take some time and remind you not to vote in the upcoming elections. Not unless you know what you're doing at least.

But your choice hurts us all

Yes, it is your duty as an American citizen (or citizen of any democratic country for that matter) to vote. It is how We The People voice our concerns, tell the politicians what we think is important, and tell the representatives  how we want the issues dealt with. That one vote that you cast has a lot of power behind it. Multiply that power by every citizen eligible to vote, and big things can happen over a short time. Voting is not a thing to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, however, many people do not take this power seriously. Some people vote along party lines, some just cast a vote because they feel obligated to, and others still vote based on misinformation. The ramifications of this are unbelievable. The wrong politicians get put into office, bad laws get passed, a mishandling of funds sends states and cities into bankruptcy, and elected officials get too comfortable in their jobs. All this can lead a country, state, or city down a bad path. I have put a lot of thought behind this, and I have come up with a few solutions.

Don't Vote Unless You Know The Facts

Misinformation is a dangerous thing. Not knowing all the facts is just as bad. So before you cast a vote, do research. I was in my senior year of high school when most of my class was eligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election. It sickened me to hear that most of my class was itching to vote for Barack Obama. Not because he was a good candidate, not because they liked his stance on the economy, but because MTV, celebrities, and campaigners said he was a good candidate. If you were to go up and ask someone who they were going to vote for in a few weeks, there was a 90% chance they would say Obama. If you asked them why they would vote for him, they would say that it was because he was a good candidate. If you then asked why he was a good candidate, you would get a weird and confused look from them. They never really knew. They just knew that he was good. 

And this is just one example. In the current election, a lot of facts are left out. Sure Candidate A has a better economic policy than Candidate B, but what about their stance on foreign affairs, homeland security, education, and border control? These things all need to be considered as well. And just one source won't give you all the information you need. Reporters now days add a lot of spin to stories, or misreport stories to make someone look worse than they are. Look at many sources, gather many facts. Think for yourself when two pieces of information seem to conflict. Do more research. You wouldn't buy a house on impulse, so why should you cast a vote half-cocked?

Don't Vote if You're Going to Vote Along Party Lines

I've referenced it before, but political parties are dangerous. They encourage you to vote without thinking, just because you like what the party as a whole says. Last time I checked, one person does not make up the entire Democratic or Republican party. So why should you vote for one person just because they have the support of one party? This ties in with the above point: Check all your facts. Republicans may be pro-life, but the Republican candidate for governor may be pro-choice. Democrats may be against the death penalty, but the Democratic candidate may want to install gallows in every prison in the state. Minor differences in the candidate and their party could mean a major difference in their beliefs and your beliefs.

Don't Vote Just for the Sake of Voting

I remember a scene in the film The F Word in which two men were arguing that a vote for Ralph Nader was really a vote for one of the 2004 presidential nominees (It's been a while, so pardon me please for not remembering which nominee the vote helped). To an extent this is true. Voting for a candidate that you know will not win just because you don't like either of the front runner candidates is a waste.* It decreases the margin between the two nominees, causing problems in which recounts and House of Representative intervention is needed. And even then it's a throwaway vote. It serves no purpose other than self satisfaction. Sure, later on you can complain about the president and say you didn't vote for him or her, but did you really cast a vote if you threw it away? 

I believe that everyone should vote. But I also believe that everyone should vote intelligently. As stated above, voting unwisely or for the wrong reasons can wreak havoc on a government system. Be smart, do your research, and vote wisely, and things will be great. Otherwise, just do us all a favor and don't vote.

*I would to make a special note here. While voting for a candidate that you know will not win is a waste, voting for a candidate you know will not win because you like their political stance is encouraged. In this case, you know what you want, you've done your research, and legitimately want that person to win. They may not win in that election, but it could be the beginning of a movement in Washington to get more of that kind of person on the Hill.

A controversial perspective, don't you think? But it should give you something to think about. And I would love to know those thoughts! Leave a comment or use a resource on the contact page to let me know your thoughts! 

No comments: