I just got back from voting, something I have been doing regularly for over 40 years. I’ve known people who never vote. It’s against their religion (Jehovah’s Witnesses). For others, “It’s just too much trouble.” I drove less than four miles round trip, had to sign my name, endure being teased about my middle name (“Oh, so you’re Dennis Day! Sing us an Irish tune!). I was handed my ballot in a folder and a pen. I had to walk a few steps to a booth, get out my sample ballot and put marks at the appropriate spots on the real ballot, being careful not to go outside the lines. Then I had to walk a few more steps, deposit the ballot into the computerized counting box and return the pen. Whew! But for those who don’t like getting out in the sunshine or singing Irish songs because your middle name is Dennis, there is always the mail-in vote option. You never have to leave the comfort of your own home.
I suppose the real “trouble”, when they say voting is too much trouble, is the process of being informed. You have to find out who the various candidates are, what kinds of things they have said, and most importantly find out what kinds of things they’ve actually done. And you also have to familiarize yourself with the propositions. They are typically questions about bond issues, taxes, proposed changes in the constitution and stuff that a person needs to be really “up” on, or they can seem very confusing. The “too much trouble” crowd wants those kinds of “complicated” or “difficult” questions left up to “folks who understand such things”.
I have two things to say about that. First of all, if all the normal, regular, average people leave government in the hands of “folks who understand such things” you end up with lawyers and power-hungry extremists running everything. Bye bye representational government. Secondly, those same people who complain about how hard it is to stay informed about politics demonstrate an amazing awareness of other kinds of things in which they are interested. Celebrity enthusiasts can tell you every minute detail of the lives of their various idols, be they musicians, actors, athletes or whatever. It takes an interest and an investment of time, and even the most intellectually challenged can become informed experts in their area of interest.
Nowadays we can find almost everything there is to know on the internet. You just have to be motivated to look for it. Our old TV just died and I want to get one of those new-fangled big screen TVs. After a few minutes on the internet I discover that it’s not just all about HDTV. You’ve got Plasma, you’ve got LCD, and the latest thing is LED-LCD. So, what is best for me? Do I watch TV in a dimly lit room (plasma is best) or in a well-lit room (LCD is best)? What’s more important, HD programming? Standard definition programming? DVDs? Do I want to be energy efficient? (Plasma uses more electricity.) Do I want to watch TV from an angle? (LCD fades at an angle.) The question of cost is beginning to lose significance. I have so many other things to consider. What if I just gave up trying to become informed, went to the store and had the salesman tell me what to buy? That’s the same rationale I’m hearing from the “too much trouble” crowd.
So, all those decent (though irresponsible) people just didn’t vote in the 2008 election and we got a President and a Congress who persisted in jamming national health care down our throats, in spite of the fact that every poll has shown almost 2/3 of Americans were opposed to it. That’s what happens when you let “folks who understand such things” take charge.
Today, my 84 year-old neighbor says she isn’t going to vote. “They’re all a bunch of crooks”, she said. A lot of people are feeling that no matter how they vote, it won’t solve the problems of bad politics or bad politicians. But it is precisely that attitude that preserves the status quo of crooked, immoral politicians. They continue to do as they please because they are not held accountable.
As powerful as these politicians are, with financial backing from special interest groups who may or may not reflect your views, come election day, they need your votes. The more the public grasps that concept and exercises the power of the vote, the more election results will actually express the Will of the People. By not voting, you are strengthening a government that goes against the Will of the People. Representational government only works if it demonstrates the consent of the governed. We no longer have that principle operating in our nation today because most of the People are not consenting (voting).
Our freedom will be lost if we let the other guy do it. Who is that other guy? Are you willing to put your life in his hands? We all should do our duty as citizens. Care. Become aware. Register. Vote.