Monday, November 5, 2012

You Should Vote

Photo by:  Jason Langheine of Flickr

As I write this, the clock is ticking down.  It's 10:22 and only about an hour and a half from it officially being Election Day in the United States.  This is my post encouraging you--regardless of party affiliation or preferred presidential candidate--to go vote if you are of age, and eligible to vote.  Of course, I would love for you to vote for my candidate (as previously mentioned), but I also just want you to get out there and vote.  Exercise your right.

On the one hand, the election will decide some pretty significant issues, and many of those issues are more important to other people than they are to me: examples being same-sex marriage, the right to abortions, etc.  It's not that I'm not for these issues--I am--but because I am a white, cis, heterosexually paired male, these issues do not affect me specifically, but they do affect people I know/love/care for.

On the other hand, I don't think that if Mitt Romney wins that the US will erupt into chaos.  Sure, Bush did some pretty egregious things to civil rights--as did Obama--but I don't see members of the GOP burning abortion clinics down and using the glowing embers to brand gay men and women with a symbol for easy detection.  Sure, things will suck, but I'm pretty sure country as a whole will survive, for a while at least.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider voting:

1) Elections do decide very important issues.

As I've mentioned above, this election has a few things at stake--abortions, same-sex marriage, healthcare, gay rights, the personhood of corporations, etc.  These are things that the Democratic party appears to be in favor of, at least passingly.  The Republican Party, however, has seen some significant changes in its ideology in the past few years.  It's different not only from the party Reagan knew, but from the party that even Bush II knew.  The Tea Party did a very significant thing.  It's the reason that the Republicans currently court that vote so strongly--the voters made their voices heard through significant voting action.  They voted in people they stood with.  Which leads me to my next point:

2) Your vote does count.

If you are going to say that your individual vote doesn't count, I'm going to slap a "no frickin' duh, genius" sticker on your forehead.  But as Hank Green as the Vlogbrothers points out:
"Voting, like almost everything that humans do, is a community activity.  The stuff you do often times doesn't have an effect unless you multiply it by all the people that do it with you." -- You. Must. Vote.
The reason that Fox never picked up Firefly for more seasons despite a significant amount of people decrying the network for the program's unjust cancellation?  Not enough people give a shit.  Despite the nerds of the world being able to meet up and say, "OMG, you like Firefly, too?" not enough people actually care.  It's the same reason that despite fantastic writing and great characters, the show Community has had a rocky go of it every step of the way.  It's a great show...that has a very niche audience.

Despite nerds of the world not being a you notice how many movies keep getting made that are clearly for nerds?  Wreck 'em Ralph is a great example--loaded with videogame references for nerds and children of the 80's.  Is that everyone?  No.  But it's a significant enough demographic that they still want to cater to that base, even if they don't do it all the time.

The same goes for elections.  The reason this campaign has spent billions of dollars in campaign advertising?  The reason that the media has been talking about this shit for almost two solid years?  The reason that they've been campaigning so hard for so long?  Because your vote does matter.  It's why the reports of voter disenfranchisement are so worrisome--the more people you can convince to say "fuck it" and not show up, the less you have to worry about that viewpoint being represented when you make decisions.

3)  It is your right as an American.

The thing about our country, the thing that many, many Americans are proud of, is our freedoms and our rights.  We, as a country, actually have a say in what happens with our government.  You can say that both candidates are terrible and there's no point, but that perplexes me.  If you don't feel that either of the Main Candidates are good, why not vote for a 3rd party candidate?  Why not try to drum up support for somebody else.  People constantly bitch about there only being 2 parties, but no one ever goes out to try to change that.

Change happens slowly, but if nothing is done...then nothing will change.  Voting is one way to do that.  Obama's campaign slogan was compelling for a reason, and it doesn't just apply to Democratic candidates and viewpoints: vote for the change you want to see.  If that doesn't work, vote for someone else the next time around.

4)  Voting does result in change.

Let me ask you, when was the last time that you saw an African American citizen use a different drinking fountain because they were black?  No?  Has it been a while?  That's because voting does bring about change.  Voting expresses, "Hey, this idea right here?  Yeah, I'm good with that."  Someone said "women should get to vote, too," and elected people that would bring that about...and then it did.  Someone said, "hey, black people are people, too," and elected people that would work toward equal rights...and things changed.  The number of people saying, "hey, gay people should be able to get married just like atheists and Christians and Buddhists," is growing, and people's voting has even influenced the President to change his stance on same-sex marriage.

Voting does make a difference.  Whether you agree with my politics or not, make your voice heard.  Don't let it be silenced.  Go to the polls.  Don't let apathy and cynicism dissuade you from exercising your civic right and duty.  Take control of your government before it controls you.

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