It takes zero anything to know that this election season in the US is absolutely of the worst kind. Things have been said and actions have been acted that debase the whole idea of America, human decency, and general good things. It’s ridiculous to think of this Presidential choice as a case of the lesser of two evils, but it’s significantly less than ideal nonetheless. My choice was a very simple one, but I’m not left feeling particularly positively disposed toward politicians and the American electorate.
Yet, in spite of everything, I remain an electoral optimist. I can’t shake the feeling that when I vote, it matters. In Washington State, we vote by mail and I cast my ballot on Monday. There were plenty of initiatives, county charter amendments, local and state officials, and, of course, a few federal offices to vote on. Mostly, I didn’t have too difficult a time coming down on one side or the other, and I had some congenial conversations with the parentals about raising the minimum wage and the proposed state carbon tax (both of which I support, FYI). And, when I sealed my ‘secret envelope,’ I felt important, like I had done perhaps not everything that I could have, but plenty. Maybe not persuaded but at least talked.
This is a feeling I’ve always had. Growing up, not that I followed politics really at all, I never had any doubt that participating in democracy would just be the coolest. And it is. I don’t get people who don’t vote (or don’t even register). I mean, maybe you don’t vote for every item on the ballot if you’re truly unsure or haven’t done and research, but like come on. It’s so important and doesn’t really take that much time. And maybe it’s a bad position to have, but I definitely think that it’s better to take a chance than to totally abstain. Stand for something, right?
I hate kind of a lot about our political system and just politics in general. But i cannot countenance the thought of not even trying. It’s not uncommon to hear that you’re not allowed to complain if you don’t vote (100% true) but you also shouldn’t really participate in anything because you’re so lame. Didn’t vote? Don’t go to public school. Didn’t vote? Don’t drive on public roads. Didn’t vote? Don’t receive or send mail through the USPS. Didn’t vote? Don’t tell me because I don’t want to hear it. Remember that time that huge group of people substantively changed policy for the better by not voting? Me neither.
People who know me know I’m really not patriotic. But I am civic. As a citizen of a place where the government is up to the citizenry, I may not be the most engaged but I recognize the importance of at least performing this most basic task. I connected every arrow on the ballot because I expect things from my government and I want them to know what I expect, even in the smallest way. If I can have my input, I definitely have the right to complain. And maybe someday I’ll become more engaged and active but for now I’ll settle for voting and having conversations with people where I articulate and defend my beliefs.
Because democracy, freedom of speech, and buzzwords.