I haven’t voted in quite a while. And a lot of people would think I was a bad person if I ever let that be known. But I don’t have a problem with my choice. I could put in a lot of effort for a symbolic gesture, or—just as effectively—sit things out. However, my oldest turns 18 this year. So, will we vote together? If so, will I find a candidate more promising than Deez Nuts?
The lie of American Democracy lies in the electoral process. A lot of people think that civic duty means showing up one Tuesday every four years. Those who don’t, give up their right to speak up or complain.
But the truth is that my vote has no real impact on the outcome. Partly due to the Electoral College system, but more because it is all a money game of the establishment and the rich. Elections are not so much the outcome of persuasion as they are bought and paid for.
And even though the system was not created to be so, we have all simply accepted the status quo that there will only ever be two choices. And not even real choices, but more like “would you prefer vanilla, or bourbon vanilla?”
To not vote is “wrong” and to vote for any third party is to “waste” a vote. Or worse, to elect the worse of the candidates. The important thing is to be herded into the polling sites and pretend to have a say. Then, sit back and let the professional politicians do their inevitable meddling.
Real participation in American Democracy is more about the other 1460 days and what you do with them. Speak up. Persuade. Changing the culture is an everyday task, not an Election Day one. And until something changes, the Election Day side of things is mostly crowd appeasement.