Unless you’re a responsible citizen.
It’s nearing the “big” election in the US — the one that rolls around every four years and where we still only have about a 60% voter turn out in a banner year (i.e., 2008). In a midterm election, like 2010, the figure drops to about 40%. Now, as we’re approaching the 2012 general election, the voter registration drives are in full force and honestly, I ask why bother? Seriously — This is a question I ask anyone (liberal or conservative) who says, “but I’m not very political, so I go with what I hear around me…”… why vote?
If folks aren’t political, then why vote if you’re not genuinely informed about multiple sides of an issue or multiple candidates? I’ve had a lot of occasions on local issues and local elections (e.g., judges) where I just haven’t cast a vote because I had no idea genuinely whether or not a particular candidate or issue was good, so I figured, why vote a party line when that may not actually be the best choice?
I think this is a challenge because we have this idea that voting is inherently good. It’s not… we can make bad decisions (anyone ever regretted someone they dated?), but we’re certainly more likely to make bad decisions when they’re not informed decisions. However, there’s this pressure that gets put on us to participate in our democracy because we think we have to… well… we should, but if we’re not prepared then why participate when we only know a part of the story? I’m all for people getting involved because the decisions that get made at the local, state, and federal levels affects us (e.g., health care, etc.) and because there isn’t anyone nor any party with all the answers, yet it seems like we don’t ask the questions to force an answer most of the time.
I’m also sick of hearing people bitch about government not doing what they wanted — not representing the people. Well, the majority of voting Americans are dumbasses — they either don’t vote (i.e., the 60% who didn’t bother to vote in 2010… even the 40% who didn’t vote in 2008) or they don’t know enough about politics to make a reasoned decision. If you are not political — don’t screw it up for the rest of us. If you don’t trust the rest of us to make your decision, then be a responsible citizen and learn something about history, politics, economics, and start following this stuff.
We get the government that we deserve and clearly in the last decade it’s been a dysfunctional government because our populace is too lazy, entitled, and self-absorbed to make critical and reasoned decisions about the things that actually affect us on a daily basis like education and foreign policy. Instead, we get so worked up by whether a gay man gets to marry his life partner or what a woman is doing with her body that we forget what government is supposed to be there for — to protect us from the state of nature.
So, ignore the media campaigns this year — if you’re not already registered to vote… don’t bother. If you haven’t been following politics — if you didn’t bother to watch any of the GOP primary debates, if you don’t watch/read multiple political news sources (with multiple viewpoints) on a regular basis, if you shy away from political conversations because it’s not ‘nice’ to disagree, or anything along those lines — save the rest of us the annoyance of your irrational decision-making and just don’t vote!
As the US was in its infancy, Thomas Jefferson argued, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” He didn’t mean that we all had to have PhD’s or even bachelor’s degrees — he meant that it was a citizens’ responsibility to understand the world, the issues, and the politics if we were ever to protect the ‘freedom’ that so many Americans are so quick to talk about. We have failed and we should be embarrassed because we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain.