Duty, Privilege or Right

OpEdThe other day I was speaking to a young woman I have been friends with and a professional mentor to for several years, during the course of that conversation she revealed she doesn’t vote. I was and remain stunned by her revelation; especially given her reasoning, which was, she did not trust our voting system or believe her vote counted. I believe I got a bit heated with her, Michelle Bachmann and her idiocy was invoked more than once during the remainder of our conversation as my friend is from Minnesota. I explained to her, the reason idiots like Michelle were elected because seemingly smart people like her stayed home with ignorant excuses like, “I don’t believe my vote counts”.

Heated might be the wrong word, I was passionate and inflamed. Men and women died for our right to vote. For any one of us to stay away from the polls, whether during a federal election or a local Milhousdrawingelection simply shows both our ignorance and our apathy. For any citizen to fail to get up off their ass during an election and spend the time it takes to exercise their duty as a citizen, yes I said it, their duty as a citizen and vote is why we have the dysfunctional government we have today. I say it constantly as do many others, when good people fail to vote bad people win elections; when Democrats / Liberals / Progressives fail to vote Republicans / Tea Party / Conservatives win elections.

The problem we have right now, in this nation today in Congress and in many States since 2010 is we believed what the media told us, we believed we had already lost the House, the Governor Mansions and we failed to carry our asses to the polls and vote. Because we were so damned apathetic, we lost the House, we damned near lost the Senate, we lost many states and we handed this President a Congress he could not work with, a Congress that would not work with him. We, the people of this nation, the so-called Progressives of this nation did this and we deserve what we got for sitting it out.

We, the Progressive / Liberal / Democrats of the United States of America voted twice to put Barack Obama into the office of President and then we hampered his presidency with this Congress. We are perfectly willing to whine about them, we are willing to sign petitions on the internet, we are willing to send Meme’s around Facebook and on our blogs, what we aren’t willing to do is exercise our right, our duty to vote when the time comes to do so.

We, all of us, every single last one of us must stop handing over our rights as citizens, turning away from brutality and ignorance and begin taking back our nation from those who would strip us of our rights simply because we are too apathetic to stand up and stand against them. We must never forget those who came before us and fought, even died to gain the right to vote, the right to have a voice for us. We must, especially those of us who were left out of the original Bill of Rights and Constitution, we must stand up, stand in line and do what it takes to VOTE every single time and in every single election. We must not spit on those who fought for our right to do so; we must not turn our backs on history forgetting what it required of those who laid down their lives, their bodies, their social standing to gain us all the right to VOTE.

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We must not allow our rights to be stripped away, our history to be rewritten simply because we are too lazy to do our own research into how our government and voting really works. What voter fraud really is and thus we willingly believe our vote doesn’t count, staying home along with millions of others making millions of votes not count, millions of voices go unheard. The goal of those who would fix the outcome is achieved when good people stay home and don’t vote. Every single election cycle sees us losing ground to big money and nefarious agenda’s when we believe the hype, when we believe the race already won, when we believe our vote doesn’t count.

Make your voice heard; some of the races won in 2010 and 2012 were won by narrow margins and those uncompromising, unethical and directionless members of Congress are now out to destroy this nation for their own ends and without the least concern for you or me. The same will be said this year, 2014 will either see us taking back the House and winning a majority in the Senate, taking more Mansions in the states or we will sit it out because we will believe the hype and sit it out. I refuse to sit it out, I will vote.

One thing to consider, I hear this all the time and it simply yanks my chain even harder than I thought possible is when someone says the following:

It doesn’t matter, it is only choosing between the lesser of two evils.

No, dammit, no it is not and even were this the case isn’t it better to choose than to allow others to choose the worst evil for you, allowing you the opportunity to mitigate the potential for real harm, real evil and the fight for another day. Gad, how much ignorance, hate, bigotry and nastiness are you willing to live with before you say enough? Truly, if you are not willing to fight, with your voice at the polls than you do not have any cause to bitch at the results. You cannot complain when you are discriminated against in the workplace, when you are paid less, or don’t get the job, or lose your healthcare or don’t get a mortgage, or a car loan, or for that matter don’t get an apartment or a mortgage; you simply don’t have the right to complain. I don’t want to hear it when your taxes take your paycheck because your ass didn’t get off the couch to vote. I don’t want to hear it when your child is turned away from a school. I don’t want to hear it, not any of it if your life is harder because your rights and privileges are lost, when you failed to do what you should have done and fought to keep them.

Get your ass off the couch. VOTE

 

 

http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs

2012 Election Results: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/house/

2010 Election Results: http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/senate

Voting statistics: http://www.statisticbrain.com/voting-statistics/

Comments

  1. Never waste your vote.. it took many years for us women here to get the rights to vote.. Again another excellent post Val..

  2. I took my mom to the eye doctor last week, and my mom and the woman who was doing the preliminary stuff before the doctor arrived began chatting. Politics was mentioned, briefly — I don’t remember exactly why, but the woman said “If I can’t decide between candidates, I just don’t vote. I mean, if I can’t decide which one would be better, why should I go vote.”

    After a moment of stunned silence, in which I envisioned berating her stupidity, I very calmly said “It’s important to vote, because we, the supposedly Greatest Nation on Earth, have one of the lowest voter turn-oust of any democratic country. In rough terms, only 60-70% of people vote in a presidential year — and, the winner is the majority of them. The majority of 60% does not equal the majority of Americans.” I’m not sure she was good at math, because she seemed unimpressed, and simply replied “But why vote if you don’t know who will be the best?”

    My mom piped in, Tea Party Republican that she is, and before the talk could deteriorate, the doctor arrived.

    I can proudly say that I resisted my impulse to trip the woman as she walked out the door. 🙂

    • Tripping her might have helped.

      The number of people with their excuses for not voting simply stuns me. I think anyone who doesn’t vote should be forced to wear a button through the entire cycle “I did not vote and thus have no relevant opinion on anything”.

      This way we can be forewarned and do not need to engage them in conversation.

      • I have a friend who told me after the 2000 presidential elections he doesn’t vote because he was afraid his multitude of creditors would find him. He had initially gave me the sad story of feeling perpetually betrayed by the electoral systems and politics in general. But, after some prodding, I got the truth out of him – and laughed very loudly. I reminded him he has a social security number and a driver’s license and that, if the IRS and his creditors wanted to find him, they could. He finally started voting in 2004 and has voted in every election since. I wish I could say the majority of my fellow Americans have also seen the light, but obviously I can’t.

    • I have a saying I use often: You can’t reason with an unreasonable person. In this case: You can’t reason with an ignorant person. Same thing.

    • If 60-70% of Americans vote, that’s better than the state of Texas. Here, on average, only about 30-40% of eligible voters actually make a concerted effort to cast a ballot, even in presidential elections. That explains why Rick Perry has been able to hold onto the Texas governorship as if it’s a Supreme Court appointment and why right-wing extremists like Ted Cruz are able to get into office. Texas isn’t as politically derelict as some across the nation might think. It’s just that the majority of level-headed folks here have pretty much given up, which is a shame. That’s how the democratic process fails.

      • My 70% is pretty optimistic — that wouldn’t be bad; overall, we hover around 60% turnout (either just under, or just over, depending on the cycle.) And, I think that the variations in states are quite interesting. Some states are higher than 70% turnout (on a regular basis), while others are abysmally low. I think Texas is a good example of what happens in low turnout areas. And, there’s not much (until Wendy Davis) Democratic organization in the state. When there is not an active activist community, people have nothing to rally for — or no cheerleaders to get them to the polls. I will be surprised (pleased, but surprised) if Davis wins … but, I think she has made people realize that there are viable chances for sanity in Texas. It may not be this cycle, but, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Texas turn blue — or be a purple state like we are here in CO. But, I think you are quite right that many level-headed people have become apathetic to the whole process. I know that I feel that way sometimes — when I look at bills that “fail” in the US Senate with 57 votes. In any other area, 57 out of 100 is a majority. In the US Senate, it’s the minority that controls the government. There are a lot of factors that contribute to lack of interest in the voting process — many I can understand. But to continue to pride ourselves as The Greatest when we can barely get people to vote is sort of ironic … you’d think if we were The Greatest Democracy, we’d produce a vital, active citizenry.

        • That is the problem John, we have a minority control and many get disillusioned with the process. I get it, yet I still say ‘stand up and make your voice heard’. Until we all do this it is impossible to take our government back.

          Wendy Davis, she is problematic for me. I will vote for her but she remains problematic for me and many others. This is mostly because of her stance on guns. Texas is already nearly purple, with many cities Blue. We will see what happens.

      • Alejandro, we are derelict because we stay away from the polls. I am hoping this time we don’t. I am hoping Greg Abbott is so bad we get up and vote just to keep him away from the mansion.

  3. Val, this is such an important message. I applaud your efforts in getting the word out. Vote. Plain and simple.

    There are countries where people are chomping at the bit for a chance to be able to vote. Here, we have it, and yet so many squander that right. This is particularly true for those whose only concept is that of living in a free society. If they’ve never experienced a dictatorship, or learned about it, or known someone affected, I don’t think then that they’re as attuned to what it would be like not to have freedom. Sigh.

  4. Apathy, one of the most frustrating things in the world to me. Live and voice your opinion. Stand up for what you believe, right or wrong. Give yourself a voice!!!

  5. If my voting record isn’t 100%, it’s damn close. Whether a major November election or a special vote regarding a single local issue, I’m there. … thus I’m with your encouragement of others to do there civic duty. Cancelling others vote doesn’t matter. Voting for or against a particular person or party doesn’t matter … one needs to take the time and do it … even if it means showing up, getting a ballot and returning it blank … one needs to be responsible … as well as respectful of those in the past who fought for or even died for the right.

  6. You don’t have to tell me! Every time someone rolls their eyes at me about voting I remind them literally millions of people around the world wish they had the luxury of voting for the lesser of 2 evils, or standing in line for several hours. Indeed, people have died for the right to vote – and, as you bluntly illustrate, not just during war. Democracy doesn’t function properly if the citizenry doesn’t vote.

  7. Yes! I love this post. And not just because our politics are a match (though that doesn’t hurt). I believe voting IS a civic duty, and never miss an election…even when my candidate doesn’t stand a quote/unquote “chance in hell.” Rock the vote, baby!

    • I do also, I don’t care if my vote is cancelled out by someone else’s vote. I don’t care if my candidate won’t even get 20% of the vote. I still slog through rain, snow, sleet, hail, or 100 degrees to cast my vote. I have done so since the day I could cast my first.

      It is our duty and many laid down so we could stand up.

      Thanks for loving this one Mark.

  8. Terrific post, Val! I’ve always tried to teach my kids the importance of voting in every election, and set a positive example. I have been appalled to discover how many parents don’t!

    When I think about all of the people who have fought and died for my right to vote, I am humbled. To throw away that gift is unthinkable.

  9. This is a gem of a posting and in two stages, I like the post in general as it offers the reasons why everyone should vote, it is very important to do so and an absolute must after watching your slideshow, I paused at every photograph that you offered as this is the least that a reader can do when such an incredible posting is offered, and this is one of the best I have read in a long time. No not of yours, I mean in general my sweet friend.

    You went to a lot of trouble to accurately portray this one Val and in my opinion you have nailed it. I just hope that anyone reading this that has not voted in the past, votes in the future as those that defended the right to vote deserve it. Thank you for offering such an interesting and knowledgeable read Val and do have a wonderful Tuesday my dear friend 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  10. Yup. Every word.

  11. My MIL believed her vote did not count because she really wanted to vote for the other party on occasion and was instructed when she registered she was only “allowed” to vote the party she registered. I gladly explained when the curtain was closed, she only was required to vote her conscience.
    xxx

  12. It is compulsory in Australia for everyone to vote. That also has enormous pitfalls 😦

    • Yes, I can see that it might. I think though it has less pitfalls than the alternative, which is less than 20% of the population choosing for the other 80%.

  13. I’m in complete agreement with you, Val. If everyone who says, “My vote doesn’t count,” voted, elections might go in other directions. Anyone who wants to complain about the government to me but they don’t vote, I have no interest in hearing what they have to say.

    • I am of the same mind. I want to stick my fingers in my ears and dance off in a different direction singing, ‘I can’t hear you’.

      Really, don’t vote then bite your tongue.

  14. To say all I thought I would say would be redundant. All the comments are great. But, it is never “too much” to repeat, VOTE. No more excuses. Just VOTE. Excellent post. Thanks.

  15. Hear, hear. It’s disheartening to see the apathy that some show when it comes to voting. On the other hand, I’m always moved to see people who believe so strongly in their right to vote that they’ll wait seven hours to do so. Of course, the fact that they have to wait that long is appalling. And sadly, it always seems to be in the less privileged areas. I bet those in Beverly Hills don’t have to wait seven hours in the sun to cast their vote. This is another area that needs major work.

    • We are losing our right to vote because of our failure to exercise that right. You are so right Carrie, those who have the most to lose are losing it the quickest, yet are the most diligent.

      We must stand up, we must stand in line, we must show up.

  16. It is more important than ever to vote! It is sad when women, especially, take the vote for granted. Excellent post, Val!

  17. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    WE NEED TO GET OUT THERE AND VOTE …. prove “them” wrong!! VOTE …. otherwise, don’t whine!!

  18. I live in a very blue state, so I used to think that my vote doesn’t count – until early 2010 when my very blue state elected a Republican senator in a special election. In an election where I didn’t go to, because of that assumption that my vote didn’t count – as probably thousands others who were sure that a Democrat couldn’t lose here. (The fact that Democrat was a terrible candidate didn’t help either. 🙂 But you just can’t make these assumptions, because the only time your vote doesn’t count is when you don’t vote.

  19. ☀ H░A░P░P░Y ☀
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  20. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  21. Every voter CAN make a difference. It would be interesting to find out if in the future she DOES vote after that talk you had with her.

  22. Things get done by those who show up. if the wrong people show, the wrong things get done. Terrific piece. But a very sad slide show story.

    • The slide show was a necessary reminder of those who came before us, who fought for us. It is sad, it is also the reason why we should never take for granted our privilege.

      Thank you, you are so right in your statement.

  23. I too had a similar experience with Hispanic men who told me that they don’t vote because they didnt care about politics or want to be involved in the process.
    I inquired if they were citizens, two responded yes, but still didn’t care about politics.
    Also I have educated, wealthy neighbor who doesn’t vote because she is Republican, her husband a Democrat so their votes cancel each other out.
    What kind of rationality is that?
    Fantastic, but sad slideshow! Terrific writing.

    • Thank you, on the slide show. It took hours and was indeed sad to put together.

      My parents use to cancel each other out, yet still they both voted. It is important. I don’t care if we cancel each other out, I don’t care if we argue positions till we get to the voting booth, still we vote. We have the right and the privilege to vote, we use it or someday we might not have it.

      It is ridiculous not to do so.

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