I’m not one of those “get out and vote” guys. I’m not. I do vote, but I don’t do it because it’s my civic duty or anything. I don’t think it’s my responsibility. I don’t think it’s yours, either. It’s a choice. I usually take it. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t. There are a couple of times in the last thirty years I’ve thrown my mailer in the garbage, but I don’t remember the last time that was. It was never a major election, and it was never out of disgust. I was being lazy that year and didn’t want to be bothered. I suspect that’s why the other half doesn’t vote in most elections (voter turnout for presidential elections has been just over 50% nationally for the last 40 years), because they don’t want to be bothered. They have lives to lead and the issues are complicated and who has the time for all that?
Considering the fact that most voters, much less non-voters, don’t really understand the intricacies of politics, it would be easy to say that it’s for the best. It would be easy to say that only the informed should be pulling the lever on election day, but the informed are particularly few and far between. If only those who understood the issues, who understood politics and history and economic reality, were to vote I suspect the number of actual voters would be closer to 10%. 1 in 10 people would decide everything in that world. I take that back. 1 in 10 people would get out and vote on election day knowing, undoubtedly, that they were an informed contributor contributing almost nothing to the current or future state of the union. That’s the problem with being informed; you realize how little your vote makes a difference.
I’m not trying to be cynical here. I’m not good at that.
I know a lot of these people, the non-voters. I don’t blame them for their lack of participation in the system. I understand their reasonings very well:
“My vote doesn’t matter.”
“They’re all bums.”
“I just don’t understand any of it.”
I get that. I respect that. It’s closer to the truth than the truth I get from some of the voters I know. This stuff is really hard to understand. We can’t be informed through radio sound bites or gut reactions that are validated by our inner circles. We’ve got to do the work. We’ve got to dig deeper. We’ve got to let go of conditioning and see outside our own tunnels of vision and understand the larger nature of humanity before we can begin to understand the issues. That’s hard. We have jobs. We have kids. We have homes to clean and improve and we have to find some time in all that to be entertained and personally fulfilled. Digging deep into political truths necessarily gets shoved to the bottom of the to-do list, if it makes the list at all. And it doesn’t help that the leadership choices are, indeed, all bums.
So I don’t care if you vote. I really don’t. I’m not really sure it would matter if you did. The truth about politics is that the leaders of the world’s nations all want the same things: money, power, oil. If you vote left or you vote right you’re voting for representatives with varying agendas on how to get money, power, and oil. The system isn’t rigged; it simply evolved. Probably this is the way of leaders since leaders first took command in caves, became governors of city-states, and began arguing river borders with neighboring tribes. This is probably the way of leaders forevermore.
Unless you vote.
Just kidding, that won’t matter.
What you can do, that most people don’t, is dig deeper. Take the time to break away from the pack. Put away the preconceived notions you carry about and have taken with you from your cynical youth. Turn off the radio and the television. Stop the babble. Learn history. Learn politics. Learn economics. Really, really begin to understand the human condition. If you do all that you will change the world. Maybe not the whole world but you will change your own.
And if every single person reading this right now did that we would change a thousand worlds.
Just kidding. Maybe six.
But if everyone, everywhere did that – if everyone, everywhere really understood the machine of the world then you wouldn’t have to worry about whether your vote counted or whether the leaders were all bums. No bum could command a legion of the learned.
So if you don’t like the choices this political season, and they are not good ones, feel free to sit it out. Don’t take the time to learn which of the major presidential candidates are better than the other, or which of the doomed third candidates more closely resembles your world view. Take the time instead to begin to be informed on larger matters. If you do, baby steps you take now will shape your mind for the better over the course of the next four years and when this comes around again you will be able to confidently stride to those polls with me, safe in the knowledge you know exactly the way your vote doesn’t count.
Hey, I never promised a happy ending every time. 😉
But I will promise you this. For every one of you that does take the time to learn we will be closer to the humanity we deserve. We will march closer to democracy. We will slowly cull the bums from our ranks. We will tear down barriers and break down walls. I know I’ve changed hearts and minds with knowledge, and I know that the knowledge that others have possessed have helped change mine. Wisdom can be viral. The virus that has struck us in modern times, in this burgeoning information age, is the virus of ignorance. Somehow, with all this knowledge at our fingertips we have remained blind. That is our choice. Make another choice. Choose knowledge.
Then I promise you, for humanity, a happy ending at last.
Thanks for taking the time to read. That’s a good first step. 🙂
flickr photo by DonkeyHotey shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license