I’m about to say something unpopular.
I’m not one to hold my thoughts in, and I’m not going to start now. I kind of want to address a little blurb that’s been making its Facebook rounds the last week or so: ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.’ And, I’ve never been one who agreed with that sentiment. I think it’s our constitutional right to complain whether we vote or not. Those who don’t vote, I think are making their voices heard as well. They just don’t think it matters. I understand that mentality. I think it’s up to the individual to make the decision whether or not they’re going to vote. So, I thought I’d make a little post explaining their decision making rational. Bear with me if you will, because these are actually not the people who complain. It’s those who’ve already voted who tend to vent their frustrations.
To the majority of Americans (the ones who find it unnecessary to vote in every election), it just doesn’t matter which party is in charge. To them, both parties are beholden to corporate special interests and lobbyists. If you look at how Congress is run, outside of those attack ads on one another, they tend to side with one another far more frequently than publicly revealed. It’s the hot button issues they yell and scream about to drum up constituent support. And many see this as just the same people doing the same thing and not working for the US citizen at large (though they will… when no one is looking), but rather for their own selfish interests. The general thought is they have their own lives to live so why worry about politics? The nonvoter rarely says, ‘It sucks the direction we’re going!’, but usually laments, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I hate politics.’
This is because most US citizens are not liberal or conservative, but moderate. They just want the government to do their job, regardless of who’s in charge. They want them to work together to bring policy to bear that will benefit the majority of Americans rather than making their lives more difficult.
I recently had a debate on a heavily liberal leaning page (almost socialist in its views) where the very notion of Centrism was viewed as a liability to the country. That the very idea was comparable to ‘hand wringers’ who couldn’t make a decision, and just wanted to kowtow to everyone in a bid to make as many happy as possible. They view it as destructive to our nation. That it would bring us to ruin if we allowed it to flourish. And I asked, ‘If you’re so opposed to Centrism, then what side do you think will benefit us most? Who has the answers then that will ultimately be our savior?’ Nobody had an answer for me (but they were REAL chatty when I said Centrism would be the best implementation of policy in my view and rather insulting as well).
And that, I think, is where nonvoters fall into place. They see the ideological divide and how badly scarring it is to the nation. And want nothing to do with it. Only hope for the best, keep their heads down, and focus on their own lives and family. Which, I believe, is what the majority of humanity does. Focuses on their own families and not worry about the larger battle for control of ‘hearts and minds’. I can understand this. Because it can be difficult to make your own opinion heard when both sides are tearing at each other’s throats (and trust me that’s what it looks like looking at the ideological arguments despite the fact some representatives are more aggressively vitriolic than others).
A confession, this is the first midterm I’ve ever voted in. Mostly because in years past I didn’t feel it made much of an impact. I was more for the presidential elections (which I think most people are), and still am. However, I felt that there is a tipping point in the balance of power with this one. That one side is in too great of a position to run with unfettered power. That is unacceptable to me. There must be balance.
Now, let me leave off this long post (sorry, I just couldn’t figure out a way to make it any shorter, there’s just too much that I wanted to say on this issue) with this last thought. Many, many, many people are screaming and yelling and making the point “Vote! Make your voices heard! Because we need to make a change!” The troubling aspect to this I’m finding is that I’m worried not enough people understand exactly what they expect to happen here. Now, I’m fully confident that a balance of power will be restored (which is generally what happens in midterms with an unpopular president). However, there’s no guarantee Democrats will seize the seats needed to gain control. Because, people seem to think in every election cycle that if a president is hated, then everyone will side with them and vote against said president’s party. ‘Yeah, guys! Let’s make a change! Yeah, we’ll show them!’ Yet, it’s just as likely everyone will instead say, ‘Eh, I don’t mind the direction we’re going’ or ‘I just don’t trust those other guys’ and the majority will vote to maintain the status quo. I’m not saying, ‘don’t vote’. I believe it’s important. It is a right. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to go the way you think it will go. And too many people think that if they just say get out and rock the vote that it’ll be what they imagine will happen.
Let me put it this way, in the 2004 presidential election, there was this major push to get the people out to vote so that we could take our country back. Yeah! We’re going to show that Bush, Jr that he can’t take advantage of us and run amok thinking he can do what he wants with impunity! Yet, he won. He won the popular vote as well as the electoral college. The was much crying and sorrow and lamentation of how ‘foolish can America be!?’ And people seem to forget that. The majority of America trusted Bush, Jr more than they did Kerry. And I can understand why. Kerry wasn’t all that electrifying of a candidate. Couldn’t stand the man myself. Voted for him anyway, because like the majority of the people towards Kerry, that’s how I felt about junior. I didn’t trust HIS policies and didn’t like the direction the country was headed. And yet, he carried the presidency for another four years. Of course, the midterms came in 2006 restoring a balance to governmental power. So it wasn’t a total wash.
So, don’t be too harsh on those nonvoters. They just see something the two sides don’t. While the liberals and conservatives are digging their heels into the ideological sand refusing to acknowledge the benefits both can bring to the table, the rest of the nation is just shaking their heads because they’re sick of it. Maybe there’s a lesson there we can all learn from their rationale.
If we listen, of course.