Unfortunately, the answer is yes for more and more Americans.
Now, we already know about the huge portion of the population that presently doesn’t vote out of laziness or apathy. That sort of (in)action lacks intent, it’s just a blanket dismissal of the voting process that has less to do with political philosophy, and more to do with suffering the minor inconvenience of getting to the polls and waiting your turn.
I’m talking about the politically savvy and engaged people who are thoughtfully considering sitting out future elections because they are convinced that their votes are meaningless.
There are those who become purple-faced enraged at the very suggestion others might choose not to exercise their right to vote. I can get that. Until fairly recently the idea of taking a pass wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. But since 2016 and beyond, my opinion on the electoral process has changed considerably.
First off, I would never presume to scold another adult for their decision to opt out of voting. Vote shaming of any sort is completely unacceptable. I may not understand or agree with their choice, but I don’t have to. It’s simply none of my business.
Keeping that in mind, oppositional reactions ranging from schoolmarmy lecturing to rage-fueled freakouts over someone else’s voting choices is akin to the tantrum of a two-year-old child — There’s no depth to it beyond self-indulgent anger at the frustrating lack of control over another’s actions.
This is part of the very sort of behavior that is turning people off from voting in the first place. Well, that and the crappy choice of candidates of course.
Recent and near-recent events have led many people to believe that casting their vote is nothing more than going through the motions — an elaborate farce cynically tailored to make the People believe they still hold the reins.
An architect friend compared it to the thermostats in office buildings. The Sweaty Betties and the Chilly Millies do daily battle over the heat setting when in reality the thermostat isn’t even operational. They are unwittingly fighting each other tooth-and-nail over a non-issue neither side can ever prevail in.
But it gives the office workers the illusion of control over the situation and prevents them from bugging management about trifles such as their personal comfort.
Most city traffic crossing lights and the elevator “close” button are also designed to give the public a sense of control they don’t really have. Neither have any function except to pacify the public. So push away at that those buttons, but it won’t do you any good.
Sound familiar? It should.
Many angry people decided voting was futile after the 2000 Florida vote-flipping FUBAR. It seemed more than obvious that the outcome was a done deal even before the first campaign signs began sprouting up on the lawns of America.
And in 2016, when the DNC rigged their primaries to elevate Hillary Clinton’s candidacy over the far more popular Bernie Sanders, millions of disillusioned voters lost faith in America’s ability — and willingness — to conduct fair elections.
And who can blame them?
If you still have faith in the system and truly believe your vote matters that’s great. Vote your little heart out, but don’t presume to berate others who decide to refrain.
We have the right to vote, but we are under no obligation to do so. No-one’s hurting anyone else or breaking the law by abstaining, no matter how much it might want to make you tear your hair out.
In fact, some activists believe the act of not participating in elections is a political statement in and of itself, a clear show of no confidence in any of the candidates or the process itself. There is a certain logic in this. Letting these clowns play off like they were duly elected validates their authority and abuse of power.
But that’s obviously not a long-term solution if we want to salvage our dying democracy. By concentrating more on election reform rather than vote shaming, we might be able to bring some semblance of fairness back to this country’s elections and coax voters back out to the polls.
But it has to be made a priority over bullying people to vote for unsatisfactory candidates under the guise of saving us from the “other guys.”
Because the fact is the American People need saving from BOTH major parties.
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