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I know the meme. “My vote doesn’t count, so why bother.” I know its contrapositive: “Every vote counts.” If only one other person in each precinct had voted for (fill in the blank), so-and-so would not have been elected President, Senator or Representative.
But I don’t vote because my vote counts. That’s immaterial. I vote because I’d be mad as hell were I not allowed to vote. It’s that simple.
Call me crazy, but at my age I think I know what I like and what I need. I agree there are concepts that are beyond my ability to grasp, totally. Is quantitative easing good for the economy or bad? Is “supply side”economics the answer to upward mobility or do we need Keynesian economics? Should banks be “too big too fail?” Ought we to quarantine aid workers returning from West Africa? Should we use ground troops to defeat ISIS? Should we fight ISIS at all? Is global warming man made or not?
I have opinions on all these subjects—rather vociferous ones, in truth. Yet, like most of you, though I speak like an expert were I to be even remotely honest with myself I would have to confess that I don’t really know the answers to any of these questions.
Of course, I receive a bit of solace in the fact that (aside from my wife) no one knows the answers to these questions—at least with any degree of certainty.
Still, I enjoy expressing my opinions on them, if not directly, at least through an elected representative. One whom I (not anyone else, not some genius and not some elitist) choose of my own free will.
Sure, I understand that often my choice is the lesser of two evils. I’m aware that when choosing one of those, I am still choosing evil. Yet, the act of “choosing” is more important than the fact that the choice may be less than stellar—even harmful.
Despite the ubiquitousness of “low information voters” and the citizens featured on “Waters World, which are way to “cool” to know the name of the Vice President or how many Senators their are in the Senate, the “act” of voting is sacred. Because when we vote—we choose who is going to best represent our vision of the world or even our neighborhood. If we are not allowed to vote, then someone else (and she may be a benevolent queen with our best interests at heart) is making the choice for us. And I resent that.
At my age, I find it insulting and patronizing that someone assumes that they “know better.” That if I “knew was good for me” I would accept their wisdom and follow their program.
It is immaterial that I (or you) often vote for the wrong candidate or wrong proposition on the ballot. We may not understand all the issues or we may believe it when our favorite candidate says “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
That candidates are flawed—that ballot measures often have unintended consequences (some exactly the opposite of what we thought we were voting for) comes with the territory.
It is the price we pay for the privilege of having our say.
Democracy is messy and not very efficient.
But my father and his father before him picked up rifles to defeat those who would impose upon us fascistic dictatorships where the government would grant us the permission (like royalty of old) to pursue our vision of happiness and fulfillment.
Actual freedom may be an illusion. Politics and politicians may be corrupt. The system may be rigged. And maybe when it comes down to it my vote really doesn’t count.
But I’d be mad as hell if I weren’t allowed to cast it.
Illusion or not, that’s why when I leave the voting booth I feel like a kid who has just left the confessional. I feel clean—like I’ve done my bit in moving the American experiment forward—one inch at a time.