I woke up this morning to being bombarded by messages to vote. From Twitter to Facebook to the local news. Most of the messages urging me to vote included some form of the following:
Exercise your civic duty, Vote!
Get out and Vote!
Okay people, get up and go VOTE! No matter your candidate or cause, just do it!
ELECTION DAY!!! Please go vote!
Just remember, voting for Gary Johnson, or writing in Mickey Mouse, only helps The chances of Obama staying in office. Romney, and a Republican majority taking over the Senate, is our only hope to save this nation. And if you are not voting for Romney because he is Mormon, then remember that you are saying you would rather keep an Islamic terrorist as our President. Maybe not a terrorist that straps bombs to himself, but he is a Political and Economic terrorist. You make the choice.
Yes, the last one is an actual message, and I had a hard time pasting it into this post without laughing. It’s not as bad as what they did in the early 1800s, but it’s pretty bad:
It’s your Civic Duty!
Is it? My civic duty is to cast a piece of paper into a box? That doesn’t even sound right. My civic duty (and the oath I took as a soldier) requires me to support and defend the Constitution. It does not require that I vote (and sometimes voting is detrimental to that oath, as I’ll touch on later). But let’s say I was never a soldier, do I have a civic duty to vote then? The answer is again, no.
Voting is not an act unto itself. It should be the culmination of years of study, thought, and soul searching. Voting says, unequivocally, that I want person X to become president. That’s it. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
The Constitutional Reason to Not Vote
It stands to reason, then, that if I vote for somebody, I better have a rock solid understanding of what they stand for, and more importantly, whether the can be trusted with what has essentially become limitless power.
If I were to vote for Barack Obama, I would have to be ok with the idea that he is willing to kill American citizens without due process, or that he is ok with torture. Or that he is able to arrest Americans without charge, or that he is able to start a war without congressional approval. And this is to say nothing about his economic plans.
Likewise, if I were to vote for Romney I’d have to worry about all those things I mentioned above, combined with the fact that his tone has changed considerably in the past few months alone. He doesn’t know who he is.
In short, neither candidate believes in upholding the constitution (unless they somehow believe the Constitution says they can do whatever they want). So what do I do? Do I violate the oath I took and cast a vote for either major party candidate? Or do I recognize that neither candidate plans to uphold the Constitution, and not vote for either candidate?
“If you don’t vote for Romney, you’re voting for Obama!”
I’ve gotten this argument from some friends lately. That somehow, by not voting for Romney, I’m assuring an Obama win. Well, no. That’s not how elections work. If there is a tie, there’s a certain set of things that happen; none of which is, “Current President keeps his Job.” Likewise, not voting also doesn’t mean that I want Obama to lose. It means precisely what it should mean, “I choose not to participate in this process.” The arguments also pre-suppose that every single Democrat out there will vote for Obama, and that there will be a substantial number of Republicans that won’t vote for Mitt Romney. Of course, this isn’t true.
Let’s say that a significant number of Republicans are choosing not to vote for Mitt Romney. Should they be harangued into voting for Mitt even though they don’t want to? So that the Republicans can “Win” again? Of course not. If there are a significant number of registered Republicans that believe that Mitt is not the right choice for President, then it’s up to the Republican Party to select a candidate that better reflects its values. The same is true of the Democratic Party.
I don’t care who you vote for, Just Vote!
I hear that from time to time as well. Ok, I’m voting for “Mickey Mouse”. What’s that? My vote will be thrown away? Oh, you mean for me to vote for one of the two pre-ordained choices for President! Why? If Hitler and Stalin were the only choices for President, should I ‘hold my nose’ and vote for the lesser of two evils? Or would it be better for me to work tirelessly to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
You get two choices for President, but 23 choices for bagels
Another good reason not to vote comes (again) from George Carlin:
He’s a bit pointed, but he’s not wrong. As Lawrence O’Donnell points out, third parties aren’t covered because they can’t win:
Some ‘democracy*’, huh?
In short, I’m not voting because there are no candidates running that represent my views. On the off chance that there were, they are quickly marginalized by the establishment.
If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal
I think this sums up what I’m trying to say, rather nicely:
*No, we’re not a democracy, we’re a Constitutional Republic. Or we were. We’re some weird amalgamation now that has elements of Fascism, Socialism, and Corporatism. It’s been a bi-partisan effort to make it this way.