Sunday, November 02, 2008

Who should I vote for?

Oooh, we're down to the wire and I've gotta admit I'm enjoying the rising adrenaline levels on the television news networks. Whether you're an Obama booster or a McCain groupie (can he even have groupies? Discuss), you've got to admit that this is a pretty cool time to be alive. Will Wolf Blitzer pop a cornea? Only his opthamologist knows for sure.

Sadly, I can't vote for anyone on November 4th. I'm Canadian, apparently, and I had my chance last month. I voted, of course, because I wanted to retain the right to whine, bitch and moan about the doofii who now claim to represent our interests on Parliament Hill in between expense account lunches and protracted heckling sessions with reporters in Centre Block.

And there's the rub. Loads of people didn't vote in the last Canadian election and it's a sure bet millions will stay away from U.S. polls as well. Maybe I'm super-naive, but it astounds me that anyone would willingly back away from participating in the democratic process. Whoever you support, this is your one shot to be heard.

And if you refuse to take that shot, please resist the urge to say anything about the elected officials you failed to either support or oppose. Kindly keep your opinions to yourself over the entire course of their subsequent term because, frankly, you don't deserve to have a voice at the table. Indeed, you voluntarily pulled your voice from the discussion when you chose to stay home on election day.

Your turn: What say you about folks who won't cast a ballot?

27 comments:

~**Dawn**~ said...

This is exactly the way I feel about it. In fact, I said it in my own words yesterday on my blog!

Joan said...

You took the thoughts right out of my head! Thanks for your supportive comments on my recent entry, too. :)

photowannabe said...

Voting is a previlege and shouldn't be taken lightly. As you say, its our one chance to express our opinion and choice. Those who don't, don't have a right to complain or criticize.

Anonymous said...

I could not in good concience cast a vote for any of the candidates.
This is the first time that I did not vote since I became eligible.
If you do not agree with a candidate, or feel that they are not the right person to lead the country, Why would you help them gain the position of authority over you?
Most people do not vote for a candidate, they vote against the opposition. If the opposition is just as bad as the other candidate, there is no good choice. Just as two wrongs do not make a right, two bad choices do not create a good choice, or a good government.
By not voting I am not culpable in electing someone not worthy of the position.

Bradley B.

Anonymous said...

P.S. whether or not I have a voice, regardless of my decision not to vote, is not up to you to decide.
Bradley B.

smarmoofus said...

Well-said (as always), Carmi! I've been encouraging everybody to vote... even those I know don't agree with my choices. (But I do encourage some people more strongly than others... *smile*)

-smarmoofus

dianne - bunny trails said...

Precisely. That's the opinion I've long held. And still do. :D

Elizabeth McQuern said...

People who don't vote should be ashamed of themselves, frankly. My god, could the stakes be higher right now? We have a duty to participate in democracy, especially at such a precarious time in history.

Vesper de Vil said...

I vote (registered in both the US and Canada), but I understand why some don't. They feel that no one fully represents their main areas of concern, and I don't blame them. When it comes down to just two main parties in the US...that's pretty sad if you ask me. It's more based on personality than on politics in the first place. Some of the people who spend the majority of their time studying politics are the ones who don't show up to vote. They are at their wit's end when it comes to the present day political climate. That being so, I continue to take part, and I do believe that certain choices are better than others. I'm not sure how long that opinion will hold.

Anonymous said...

Hello Carmi!
I feel that low voter turnout is a reflection on the Candidates and not on the voters. Choosing to not vote because there aren't Candidates worthy of voting for is as much a right as it is to choose to vote.
If voting is a way of making your voice heard then abstaining is also a way of making your voice be heard. Silence speaks volumes.

Terri

bobbie said...

I don't believe any candidate can truly represent any one of us completely. We always disagree with something. But when the destiny of our country is at stake, we have to decide on someone who comes closest to our beliefs. That's how I feel about it. I must admit, there have been times when I felt I had to vote "against" someone. This time, I'm doing both.
You are certainly right that if one chooses not to vote, that person has no right then to complain about what is done.

Carmi said...

Bradley: Point taken. I think we've all been there where we felt no candidate and/or party represented our interests.

I've considered opting out of the process, but my late uncle who flew over Europe during WWII would probably come back from the grave and smack me upside the head for forgetting why he risked life and limb. People died so I can waltz over to my kid's school and cast a ballot. The least I can do is make that walk.

And what if I despise every candidate? The option is clearly available to all: a spoiled ballot. It lets voters send a clear message without requiring them to support any odious characters.

kimberly said...

That's how I feel about voting, too. If someone believes that neither/none of the people running should be elected, then they should indicate that on their ballot. In the US, you can write in a name for many races; although a write-in candidate has almost no chance of winning, by writing in a candidate, someone is saying "none of you" to those who are on the ballot.

I'll be at my polling place bright and early Tuesday morning. Most of Washington state will already have voted, as all but two counties vote entirely by mail, and the majority in my county now do as well. However, until I no longer have a choice, I'll cast my ballot in person. I like the ritual... and the little "I voted" sticker you get as you leave.

Anonymous said...

Point taken and well explained. However a spoiled ballot sends a message to those that count the ballots. A mass of voter apathy lets everyone know how poorly the process and candidates are viewed.
As the politicians are self serving, you have to figure that they are all wondering how to get the non-voters to make it to the voting booth and cast ballots for themselves and thier party.
As for the argument that not voting disallows your voice, it is only one very small step to excluding other voices. If you voted for the ruling party, you cannot complain as you put them there. If you voted for the party that is not in power then you cannot complain as you are unpatriotic and not supporting your Country. While your Uncle
( and most of our Grandfathers )fought for the right to vote ,
as well as other freedoms, they also fought against others deciding who should have a voice and how they should use it.

Bradley B.

Anonymous said...

Voting is a right
Freedom is a privilege
Choice is yours to make

Haiku Braveheart

Mojo said...

First of all, I had no idea that the word "doofus" was pluralized as "doofii", but it kinda makes sense. (I wonder if Smarmoofus knows about this?)

Second, based on what I've seen of the returns for early voting, this may be a record for voter turnout in the US. A record high that is. If I remember correctly, the last two Presidential elections were woefully under-attended. That turned around dramatically in the mid-term elections of 2006, which had some of the highest voter turnout numbers ever for an election not featuring a Presidential race. In fact, if memory serves, the 2006 election had higher voter turnouts in some states than some years that did feature a race for the White House. Couple that with marked increases (up to 400% in some states) in early voting over 2004, and I think the numbers will say as much about the state of the American electorate's state of mind as the results will. No, there will not be 100% participation among those eligible to vote. Sadly, that's never going to happen. But I'm encouraged by what I see so far.

But the larger issue. "If you don't vote, you can't bitch." Hmm... it may be different in Canada (though I'm pretty sure it's not that different) but that argument is a Constitutional fallacy here in the States. The First Amendment guarantees your right to complain (uh, we do still have that don't we? Smoofus? You're the Constitutional Law expert here...) and so far as I know the First Amendment isn't restricted to those who vote.

That said, I think a far better approach is, "Quit whining and do something." so while I will defend to the death your right to snivel, whine, bitch, moan, cuss and fume about the collection of maladjusts on Capitol (or Parliment) Hill, I would follow that up with an admonition to take the measures available to you to correct the situation rather than simply complain about it.

So.
Register.
Vote.
Repeat as necessary every 2,4 or 6 years.

I spoke to this issue in an Op Ed four years ago just prior to the current US Presidential Debacle...erm... Election. And at that time I referred to an old Economics professor of mine who hit us with the 80/20 rule which states that 80% of the wealth is owned by 20% of the people. In other words, "we" outnumber "them" by a 4:1 ratio -- even using these percentages (which date back to the reign of Bush the Elder).

If that's the case, then why is it that we can't seem to dethrone those who are looking after the 20%? Mathematically, if everyone who could vote did vote, the "we's" would clobber the "they's".

And that's why I see the high early vote numbers as encouraging. Not just in terms of winning this election, but more important because it sends the message to Washington that those 80% of us that have been getting trickled on since the Reagan Administration have damned well had enough of it. The 80% seems to have found its voice, and if that can be sustained it's a voice that's loud enough to shake the pillars of power in DC. It's loud enough to wake up the 80% in other countries around the world as well.

But first things first.

If you are an American citizen of voting age, you have a chance to be heard on Tuesday. Even if you're not currently registered, you may be able to register and vote in a one-stop polling place, or at worst you may be able to cast a provisional ballot (I do not recommend this if you have any other option however).

If you aren't registered, the best time to take care of that would be now. While it's on your mind.

If you are registered, the do what Bob Schiffer's grandmother says:

"Go vote now. It'll make you feel big and strong."

(Umm... did I just write a post on someone else's blog? *chagrin* Sorry 'bout that...)

Tara said...

Gotta love the electoral college and the whole process. Lots of Americans, or atleast in my experiences, think their vote doesn't count because of it. I voted absentee, what a feeling! We should be proud to be American,to vote is patriotic.

Leigh in Atlanta said...

Gah...bless you carmi. I would totally write you in on the ballot if I thought it would work.

Becky said...

I agree with most here Carmi.Those that do not vote dont have any right to complain.Period End!

Anonymous said...

"Voting is your duty" He cries
And every election he tries
Goes into the booth
To vote for the truth
And all he gets is more lies

Karl Rove
Nantucket Island.

Rachel said...

I get to reside in the good ol' us of a, but don't get a vote...that's what resident alien status gets you! :-) Frustrating, given that whoever is chosen will directly impact my life here in a variety of ways.

I understand people being frustrated between the two main (though we never seem to hear about any others!) choices and wanting neither - however, not voting doesn't directly express this. Not voting could just as easily be attributed to not caring, being lazy...etc. etc. From what I understand the ballots here allow you to write in a candidate, so I say, vote (showing you care about who represents you) and express your opinion of who you think would make the best leader/representative. Oh, and remember there will never be a perfect candidate to represent everyone - and that's why it's up to us to keep our locally elected officials honest by directly challenging them on what they are doing for us - or at least that was my perspective in relating to the MP we had back when I lived near London (UK!).

Just my tupence!

kenju said...

People who don't vote are lower than whale poop on the bottom of the ocean floor.

carli said...

I have a different opinion. I believe that if you don't like either candidate, and don't support any of the third-party candidates either, then it is your right to say, "I'm sitting this one out. I can't in good conscience give my vote to anyone." Whatever anyone says about voting being a "privilege"--and it is--it is also my privilege to abstain. If I don't like the candidates now, why shouldn't I be entitled to bitch and moan about them just because I had the foresight not to vote for them?

colleen said...

Not voting is like saying: do whatever you want with me.

I'll be reporting back with photos of tomorrow's long line.

honestyrain said...

you assume that the people who did not vote will complain about the result. i bed to differ. i think that with our canadian election there was a degree of apathy because really, it wouldn't have changed much to change the government right now. so whatever, some people said by not voting. what-ever. the election was a farce.

MB said...

I don't understand people who refuse to exercise their right to vote. So may people have fought so hard for the privilege and others can't be bothered to cross the street to vote.

I have voted in every single election since I turned 18. Unfortunately, I have seldom voted for someone I truly believe in. It is usually a toss up for the person I dislike the least.

I am happy to see the increase in voter registration and hope it will not be a one-time thing just to make the history books.

This country is on a slippery slope and no matter who is elected it will be tough to get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. I just hope whoever wins will strive to make it better, not worse.

~**Dawn**~ said...

I just shared some more thoughts on this on my own blog, but in a nutshell, my reply to those who say they are making a statement about the Presidential candidates by not voting, I pose this question: What about all the other items on your ballot? What about your voice in local and state elections? And on the proposed Amendments? Wouldn't your statement be more direct if you went and voted on everything *but* the President? Just a thought...