I f you choose not to vote in elections, you’re not alone. Tens of millions of American citizens intentionally choose not to take part in elections — and most of them have logical and sensible reasons for abstaining.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2014 mid-term election 28 percent of the non-voters said they were too busy with other things. Another 10 percent said they were out of town, while 16 percent simply weren’t interested in the election, and 8 percent didn’t vote because they didn’t like the candidates or didn’t care about the issues. In plain English, for 60 percent of non voters the election simply wasn’t a priority.
And that’s just fine with me. Every citizen has the right to vote, but no citizen is required to vote. As with every other U.S. civic liberty, the freedom to vote goes hand in hand with the freedom not to vote. By guaranteeing your right to attend a church, to own a gun, or to march in a protest, the Constitution, at the same time, guarantees your right to not be forced do those things — even if a bunch of busybody neighbors, friends or family members insist that you should.
Never mind that there are individuals who will try to shame you into voting. As in electoral seasons past, self-admiring celebrities will appear in carefully scripted commercials on TV to urge young, naive voters with short attention spans and little or no cognitive ability to differentiate one candidate from another, to cast their vote for the candidate the celeb is backing. This is known in politics as “picking the low-hanging fruit.”
So, you ask … is the King going to vote? Hell yes, I’m a lifelong fan of elections. Of course I will be voting. No one has to persuade me to show up on Election Day. I love the chaos and confusion of hundreds of patriotic (or pi$$ed off) citizens milling around the precinct with bored kids in tow, determined to have their voice heard through their vote while enjoying the communal spirit of being fortunate enough to be an American citizen. I like the civic ritual of coming together as equals, peacefully engaged in alleged self-government.
Conversely, I’m not at the polls on Election Day because I believe that voting for anyone is better than not voting at all. I show up because I’ve thought about whom I want to vote for (or against) and hope, through my ballot, to help accomplish my personal desired outcome. In the rare event I don’t know the candidate or candidates, I skip that portion of the ballot and move on. I consider it a travesty for anyone to cast their vote for an individual they know nothing about. You wouldn’t take your car to a paint store to be repaired, nor would you consult with a carpenter about the nasty rash in your … uh, lower extremity. I commend citizens who deliberately choose not to engage in the process — who pay little or no attention to the candidates, the campaigns or the election.
Avoiding the polls on election day is a justifiable and valid option that you should never feel guilty about. In fact, for millions of Americans it is the best option for all concerned. The stakes are too high to throw darts.
And so again I say, please, don’t vote.
Opinions offered in If I Were King are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email the King at email@example.com. Some content adapted from the internet.