And I hope you did, too.
Many years ago, I used to be one of those “both options suck so why bother?” people, but I’ve come to a few realizations since then.
For one, there’s more at stake than the presidency. There’s U.S. Congress and there are state legislature and local seats. While the politicians and the media are loathe to admit it, several of these will have a far greater impact on my way of life than the guy sitting in the Oval Office. For example, the county board here was in great contention over whether or not to allow wind farms to be constructed in our county, and a number of seats were turned over.
Then there’s the question of state and local decisions. Today, Illinois had a question about amending our state’s constitution which will directly affect the pension of teachers and other state employees in the future. In the past, several Illinois counties have voted whether or not to allow concealed carry of firearms. School districts have referenda that can drastically impact our property tax bills and the education of our children. Federal government decisions are slow and cumbersome; state and local decisions can hit us immediately.
Don’t like either candidate? That’s fine. Vote Green. Vote Libertarian. Give a third party a voice. Show the Big Two and the media that you’re sick of the bi-partisanship. Don’t think it can happen? We did it in the Illinois governor race a few years ago by giving the Greens 14% of the vote, if memory serves. Voting for third parties is not throwing away your vote because you’re still raising your voice. Not showing up is throwing away your vote.
Finally, there’s the issue of voice. I agree the First Amendment guarantees us all the right to bitch whether or not we cast our vote, but by staying at home, it shows we just don’t care. Poor turnouts show the politicians it doesn’t matter what they do, because we’re not going to stop them. The Electoral College may be a dated, questionable process, but everyone examines the popular vote just the same. One vote may be irrelevant in a county that will lean hard toward red every time, but it reminds the locals that there are still different opinions out there.
So you’re damn right I voted.
I’m fortunate it didn’t take any time at all in my precinct. I didn’t have to deal with electioneers, I didn’t have to deal with a confusing ballot or a potentially rigged electronic system, and I didn’t have to jump through crazy oops and show five IDs to obtain my ballot and fill it out.
A number of my friends in larger precincts are dealing with long lines. There are reports of hassles and electioneering. There are stories about voter ID problems and questions. Videos like this one out of a Pennsylvania booth aren’t helping:
There are going to be cheats. There are going to be assholes. There are going to be corrupt officials trying to influence the vote in every way they can, whether or not their parties or candidates are directly aware of it.
This makes it even more important to show up. Keep these bastards honest. In a day when half the people have cameras in their pockets, it’s a lot harder for the people in charge to get away with shady dealings. They’re going to be a lot more intimidated by a recording device aimed their way than they will somebody complaining.
“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
— Edmund Burke
Don’t be that good man (or woman) doing nothing. Stop making excuses.