Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Should We Vote?

Arguably, or maybe unarguably, the biggest pain in the side of politically active folk is people who don't vote. Inexplicably, about half of registered voters (in a big election) do not find the occasion important or convenient enough to vote. Trying to find out why this is, is equally frustrating.

But today, O' glorious day! We can examine first hand the mindset of such a person, thanks to her letter to the Capital.

In this past election, I voted for the first time in my 44 years.

If you are 44 years old now, then the first time you could have voted is around 1981, and the first presidential election for you would/could have been 1984. I know that some of you, the loyal readers, are wondering why this person would not vote in 1984 when she could have. Well, here are some national events that were happening in 1984:

-Reagan proposes world wide chemical weapons ban
-USSR boycotts summer olympics in Los Angeles
-Hezbollah bombs US embassy in Beirut
-First woman executed in U.S. in 22 years
-crack cocaine first introduced in Los Angeles

No? Not compelling enough for you to vote, to show your beliefs on these issues? Ok, let's continue.

I had never voted before because I believed politicians are liars.

While preparing to write what I am writing right now, the cursor stood blank on the page for a while, because I scarcely knew where to start. I'm afraid that what I am about to say is incomplete and inarticulate, but i have to write something. The whole point of a representative republic, like we live in, is that the government derives its authority through the consent of the governed. The way you give consent is by voting for a candidate to govern you. If you wish, you can refuse you grant your consent by casting a 'protest vote', which means casting a ballot but not selecting any candidate.

They make promises that appeal to you, not to fulfill them, but to go further and do something they claimed to be against -- or they just simply make a mess of things.

Two points here. First, if one politician is even marginally less of a liar, hypocrite, or moron, or is less messy, voting for that person would be meaningful. In the unlikely case that they are equally unqualified, you can cast a protest vote. Second, if a politician breaks his promises or exercises blatant disregard of his oath, you can actually recall the politician from office. In the city of Annapolis, you can start a petition and force a referendum election with signatures from 30% of registered voters. Maryland does not allow for recall of a governor, but if you want you can move to a state that does.

I decided it was my responsibility to vote,


mainly because of all the lives that had been given so that I would have that right.

Only partially correct. These lives were indeed given so you can vote, but in a larger and more accurate sense they were given (amongst other reasons) so you could continue to enjoy your political freedoms and influence the way in which you are governed. Therefore, it is your civic duty to make known the way in which you demand to be represented--you do this by voting.

Well, it looks like my earlier feelings weren't too far off.

Assuming you are referring to your belief that politicians are liars, and so forth, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. A politician who knows that the electorate, specifically the people who oppose him/her, is disinterested or will not vote will not do anything to satisfy you because it does not affect him. You do not vote so he/she does not care about you. If you, the loyal reader, would like more information regarding this issue, a more comprehensive analysis can be obtained through the study of Public Choice Economics.

The gubernatorial candidate I voted for won.

Agghhhh! Why you would vote for him is the subject of another post. For now, thank you for voting.

He promised to revamp the juvenile justice system, which I am an advocate for. He did nothing.

Doing nothing is a key strategy of the O'Malley Next Election Plan. It is harder to piss people off if you don't do anything, and not pissing people off helps you ascend the political ranks. (What also helps you ascend the ranks is to govern in a way that improves the lives of the citizens. But that's too much like work.)

Nationally, I voted for a horrific pair of candidates. Now we are in a war where so many are dying, and I really don't see a safe way out.

Not really the purpose of this blog, but what the hell....does anyone think that today, right now even, we couldn't remove all of our troops and bomb Iran, Iraq, or Ward 8 back to the stone age? (Note to Ward 8: just kidding.) That would be a safe way out. But that's probably not the answer and it's definitely another conversation.

I will be changing to a registered Independent and continue to pray for a way out.

This last sentence of your letter is the most furiously appalling of the whole bit. Praying is good, but you should not be praying for a light load, as it were, you should be praying for a strong back. You should be praying for the politicians to lead with righteousness and vigilance, and praying that you have the strength to stay the course. Instead, you have recused yourself from your already paltry participation in the political process. You have given up. You have thrown your hands in the air and announced that you will allow--by your own words--the politicians to make a mess of things. To boot, as if changing your registration to Independent affects anything (except by eliminating your ability to vote in a primary election), you have abandoned whatever principles attracted you to your previous political party and declared yourself an independent. Sadly, ma'am, you are not independent, you are apathetic.

Even so, Ms. Deshaies, I would like to thank you for your letter. Researching my response has enhanced my understanding of government, and hopefully karma will eventually re-inspire your efficacy.