Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Vote, ya moron.

All right, that's IT.

I have tried to make this journal my cheerful, happy non-confrontational place, but sometimes a girl has just gotta blow her top.  And I am freakin' sick and tired of hearing (and reading) excuses from people as to why they don't bother voting.  Bottom line:  If you don't vote (assuming you are legally entitled to do so), you are a poopyhead.  There, I said it.

OK, first off, yes, I do have the right to call you a poopyhead for not voting -- because your decision to not vote affects me.  Look, I don't mind if the candidate I don't want to win ends up winning if he's actually the people's choice.  (I won't be happy about it or anything, but if that's the will of the people, I'm good with it.)  What I can't deal with is if the wrong guy wins because the people who could have made a difference were too stupid or apathetic to get out there and vote.

Now, here are some of the so-called reasons I've heard for not voting, and why they won't fly:

- I'm not informed, and I don't want to cast an uninformed vote

OK, first of all, let me be really clear here.  I'm only talking about the Presidential election.  That one -- and, somewhat less directly, your votes for senators and congresspeople -- are your only votes that will affect me.  Frankly, I don't give a damn whether you vote for your local representative on your School Board.  What I'm talking about here is that you go to your polling place and knock one little chad out of your ballot.

Now, maybe you feel like you aren't informed enough about the two main candidates for President.  Go out and get informed.  Geez, people, you live in the United States of America.  On a daily basis, you get the benefits of its highways, its air traffic controllers, its minimum wage laws, its border patrol officers, its due process protections and thousands of other goodies that come with citizenship.  Do your freakin' duty and get informed.

It isn't difficult.  Click on George W. Bush's website or John Kerry's website.  Both set forth the candidates' positions on pretty much any issue you'd be curious about.  If you're too lazy to actually poke around a website, you can just go to Presidentmatch.com which (if you click on "compare") will give you a great big chart on where the candidates stand, or (if you click on "Q&A") will ask you what you think about the issues, and then tell you which candidate best fits your feelings. 

What I'm trying to say here is the whole "I'm not informed" thing won't fly, because it is so astonishingly easy to get informed.  Less than 30 seconds with the PresidentMatch Chart and you'll easily be able to figure out who shares your views on whatever issues matter the most to you.

- I don't live in a "battleground state," so there's no point in me voting

I blame polls for this one.  And all of the polls are based on people who are expected to vote.  Bottom line is that the majority of people in any state are not expected to vote -- and if they'd just go out and vote, they could turn any poll result upside-down.  If you and the rest of your non-voting pals went out and got yourselves counted as people who would be expected to vote, well then, congratulations, you're in a battleground state.

And one other thing -- we don't determine elections from poll results.  If we did, once there was a clear majority in the polls, we could just inaugurate the winner as president and not bother with the whole voting thing.  But we do bother with the election because polls are not infallible.  So ignore the polls and go out there and vote on the assumption that your vote will matter -- because if nearly everyone in a "blue" or "red" state didn't vote on the assumption that the election was already determined in their state, the few people who actually went out and voted would decide the whole thing.

- There's so many lies out there, I can't figure out the truth

Yes, there are lies out there.  Public Action Committees are running attack ads against both candidates which are, in some cases, not true.  And candidates may say things they think you want to hear, rather than what they actually believe.  And related to that are campaign promises which can't possibly be kept -- because the President can't get new laws passed without the consent of Congress.  So, yes, there's a lot of bull out there you have to dig through.

That said, there are some significant differences between the candidates and their philosophies.  When you read that (for instance), Bush wants to outlaw partial-birth abortions while John Kerry does not -- you can pretty much take that difference to the bank.  Grab another issue you care about:  Iraq, taxes, minimum wage, gay rights, privatizing social security ... these dudes have really divergent positions on these issues.  And even though, if elected, they might not be able to put into effect all of the things they stand for, that doesn't mean these aren't actually the positions of the candidates and what they would like to accomplish.

So, put the attack ads to one side, realize the limits to campaign promises, and look at the truth.  Then cast an informed vote.

- I don't like either of the candidates

Welcome to America, buddy.

Seriously.  Nobody agrees with either of the candidates on everything.  There's very likely at least one thing about "your" candidate that makes you want to vomit.

But, look at it this way -- that guy is "your" candidate because there's even more stuff about the other guy that you vehemently disagree with.  Don't you owe it to yourself, and your country, to do the best you can to make sure the guy you hate the most isn't elected?  Suck it up and vote for the guy you hate the least.

And here's the bonus -- if the people who don't vote start voting in droves, the candidates will realize that people like you are part of the electorate, and therefore people they should be catering to.  In other words, if you vote, you're more likely to get candidates who are more appealing to you in the future.  If you don't vote, nobody will ever bother running a candidate you'd really like, since, as far as the political parties are concerned, you and your interests don't exist.

- I don't have time to vote

Register and request an absentee ballot.  Fill it out one evening in the comfort of your home and mail that puppy in.  Easy as pie.


pegluh said...

Word!  There's no excuse for not voting.  It is so easy!

mavarin said...

When Scalzi asked the other day for reasons why people weren't registered to vote, the first couple of people who answered made me wonder whether it might be better if people who can't be bothered to do the research just opt out of the whole thing.  I mean, really. I'd rather have some ignoramus not vote than have him vote for the wrong candidate based on lies in attack ads, or mistaken impressions about either or both candidates.

Sure, it would be best for all eligible voters to sift through the junk, find out where the candidates stand on the issues, and make an informed decision. Everyone really should do this, yes. Absolutely. From what I've seen, a better-informed voter is more likely to vote for my guy than for the other one. But anyone who won't do the work should probably just stay home.


kiskar said...

Excellent entry! - K. :)

andreakingme said...

A great entry, NZ. This should be required reading!

st0rmwhispers said...

You tell em!!!!!!!!!!!!!

annalisa135 said...

You and Jennifer (xzasporated1) are our resident "Go Vote" cheerleaders.  She's posted a few about the importance of voting, and even Walter has one out today which is adorable!
I love when you said - If you don't vote (assuming you are legally entitled to do so), you are a poopyhead.     LOL!!  You go, girl!!

Excellent entry, NZ!  This is one that should be highlighted for other J-Landers to read.  Very well done, not that I'm surprised, you do everything well!  (yes you do, now don't argue!)   Much love to you, chick!!!!!

xzasporated1 said...

Okay.  Hope you don't mind me adding my personal favorite weasel lines:

1.  I don't want to be on jury duty.

Okay, idiot.  What the hell DO you want to give back to society?  Can that one, baby, cause that dog don't hunt.

2.  My state always goes [fill in appropriate party], so my vote is wasted.

Yo, genius.  Maybe the reason your state always is [fill in appropriate color] is BECAUSE you won't get off your lazy, sorry butt and contribute to the votes FOR [fill in appropriate party again, sorry to make anyone work].  Besides, there's way more on the ballot than just the top two ticket items.

But, other than those two, which make me see red (sorry Democrats, I just don't see "blue" unless I'm holding my breath), you've pretty much got it covered.


~~ jennifer

nzforme said...

Good point on the jury duty, Jennifer.  Although I'd also add that, in some states (maybe all, I don't know), the jury duty lists don't JUST come from the registered voter lists, but also from places like lists of licensed drivers.  So if you're giving up your right to vote because you think it will get you out of jury duty, don't be surprised when that jury summons comes ANYWAY.  And then won't you feel stupid -- having missed out on voting for no reason at all?

madmanadhd said...

BRAVO!!! Bout time someone gave those "I'm not going to vote and you can't make me" people hell!!

xzasporated1 said...

Excellent point.  In my state (Indiana) most counties draw their jury pools from registered voters, however, in my county and in a few other, more populous counties, the court also takes names from the utility companies and property tax rolls.  

So, as you perfectly point out, avoiding registering, using that jury duty excuse, will not prevent you from receiving a friendly notice from the clerk of courts.

We aim to teach!

~~ jennifer

readmereadyou said...

Excellent entry!!!!! It's a duty and a priviledge to vote!