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Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

September 1st, 2012 // 10:19 am @

A friend emailed me with concerns about friends and acquaintances from her community who say they find both candidates, um….lacking.

I’ve heard this now from several people, and I think it deserves consideration. Specifically, I have four thoughts:

1. It’s not about the president. Much.

First, even if you don’t vote for president, the Congressional, state and local elections are going to drastically impact the future of our economy during the next ten years.

Nobody will escape the consequences of this election, nor the coming decades’ economic ups and downs. No matter who wins the White House, the Congress is going to decide if we go into massive decline or real recovery.

This is not hyperbole, and I truly mean it in a literal sense.

This is because Congress will determine the tax policy, borrowing, budget and business opportunity policies that will make or break our economy in the short term. Many have referred to a coming figurative train wreck in Washington; it doesn’t seem too far-fetched anymore to suggest that the headlights are appearing on the horizon and the ground is starting to rumble.

This election may be the most important one in our lifetime, given what’s at stake for the economy.


2. Ain’t No Such Thing

There is no such thing as a “no” vote in a presidential election.

Why? Because not voting is a vote for the incumbent. That’s why the incumbent in any election has a slight edge – by already being in office.

More people vote when they want change, while those who are happy or complacent with the status quo are less likely to go vote. If you are happy and complacent, by all means: don’t vote (i.e. vote for the incumbent).

Now, if you live in Wyoming (where the vote will certainly be for Romney) or New York (where Obama will definitely win) this is mitigated somewhat; but in the swing states, a “no” vote in 2012 is a vote for Obama.

If that’s fine with you, then fine. As long as you understand that when you boycott an opportunity to vote, it’s not a repudiation of both candidates; it’s an Obama vote.

By the way, the swing and possible swing states in 2012 include:

  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

And a dozen others could swing.

3. Show Some Spunk.

If you’re one who strongly dislikes both candidates and really can’t swallow the taste in your mouth to vote for one of them, at the very least be a Rascal or a maverick and write someone in. Write in someone who you think could do better than either of the big-party candidates, and you’ll be able to tell people for the next four years how your candidate would have solved every crisis that arises. Of course, there will be no way to verify this, but it will open the door for a lot of stimulating conversations.

Besides, it’s fun — and educational — to tell your friends (and especially your kids and grandkids) why you voted for some non-candidate who you consider a great and promising leader. Don’t embarrass the leader by actually launching an unofficial campaign in his name. Just vote for him/her. Then, when you tell your kids you voted for Will Smith or Elizabeth Hasselbeck or Tim Tebow, they’ll listen as you explain why. Take the opportunity to teach them something important about freedom and leadership.

Or, when they ask who you voted for, you can say, “Uh…well, nobody.” You might as well tattoo the word “LOSER” on your forehead.

4. But Seriously…

Finally, in all seriousness, the two candidates (warts and all) stand for two different things. One stands for Big Government Helping People and the other for Limited Government and Free Enterprise Helping People.

The future of these two visions goes in very different directions.

Take a stand and pick one!

Oh, and Jackie: Thanks for a really great question; I hope this helps you address the issue in your community…


Category : Blog &Citizenship &Current Events &Government &Politics

21 Comments → “Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting”

  1. Matt Foote

    11 years ago

    Mr. DeMille,

    First, I just finished “1913” and absolutely loved it. Thank you so much for writing that. I’m looking forward to handing that book out over and over and giving it as gifts.

    Second, thank you for discussing this issue. While I am a registered Republican, I lean much further towards Constitution Libertarian. I have huge issues with both candidates and so I will be writing someone in.

    The comment I have is you referring to one of the candidates standing for “Limited Government and Free Enterprise Helping People.” I presume you’re referring to Romney/Ryan, but I cannot find anything in their records to indicate that either believe their own rhetoric about Limited Government. Both support the Federal Reserve, both supported the bailouts and stimulus from both Bush 43 and Obama, both supported the Patriot Act and both support the NDAA, as well as an unprovoked strike on Iran. I don’t see how any of that is Limited Government.

    Thanks again. I loved hearing your talks at the last two Team conferences and I hope we get to hear you again.


  2. Deirdre

    11 years ago

    My concern is with those that do write in a name instead of one the candidates. Doesn’t that give the candidate we don’t want in there a better chance of winning? We are a two-party system for a reason, right? It seems, even if I’m voting for a “lesser of 2 evils” that my conscience is clear that I voted for the better choice and helped ensure the “evil” didn’t get in. History has shown us that unrighteous rulers will lead to destruction and I guess if they are both unrighteous then it doesn’t really matter too much, and writing in a name would be acceptable, but if there is a degree of righteousness, wouldn’t it be better to go with the one that does have that? Just curious on your take on this, as I have many friends that are writing in a name.

  3. Ammon

    11 years ago

    I totally agree, except for the part whet you say the difference between the two candidates. Neither one us for limited government and free enterprise doing anything, any more than my 15 y.o. is for helping the family when he says he will do something but his actions say something else.

  4. Josh

    11 years ago

    I agree with a lot of what you said, but I find it strange that you never mentioned voting for a third party candidate and your examples of write ins were not serious. Why not write in Ron Paul, for example, someone who is much more for “Limited Government and Free Enterprise Helping People” than Mitt Romney is?

  5. Martha Coloma

    11 years ago

    I think he wasn’t serious about writing someone in but regardless… writing someone in is the same as not voting at all… the devil divides to conquer and he will want division to stop people from getting rid if Obama. We can not continue to ill 3700 babies per day in the US and allow healthcare that will make us have to pay for those murders. I will vote for the lesser of the two evils as this will encourage the private sector to invest in the economy … and we will have more time to change people’s minds and influence them for freedom for the constitution more time to bud leaders that can be elected to Congress to effect change lets vote out all those with bad records and who no longer represents we the people

  6. Brendan

    11 years ago

    I think you have great points – except that your view on staying home being a “no” vote. The Obama campaign attributed its large success in 2008 to a large increase in the youth vote. In 2012, the youth are less excited and supporters are concerned that those people won’t show up this year. So by not voting, you’re not supporting the incumbent in this case. What you say by not voting is just that “Either direction is fine with me”.

  7. Carlos Fontana

    11 years ago

    How coincidental? This is what I wrote in my blog early this morning


    Loved Oliver’s perspective

    God bless America

  8. Marie

    11 years ago

    Good article and I agree on most points, but I think you contradicted yourself when you state “Because not voting is a vote for the incumbent.” and just a couple sentences later state “More people vote when they want change, while those who are happy or complacent with the status quo are less likely to go vote”. By your second statement, by definition the challenger would be more likely to win because their supporters are the only ones voting. I also agree with Josh that voting for a third party candidate is a good way to get your message across. Indeed, while not national, there are many states that have a strong green party, and that has only happened because people were brace enough to vote off the standard ticket

  9. Keith

    11 years ago

    There is talk out there about virtual parties, yet sadly they are organized in the same vertically integrated way, with a central figurehead. If someone were to create a virtual party web interface to work with any new and emergent party, with the code always open source and the user interface employed as a downloaded desktop application (no servers like bitcoin), I think we will see greater checks against unelected party power. Technology will become the fifth branch of American politics since the fourth branch, the media, has been compromised or polarized.

    As for the tea party, right now independent voters outnumber democrats and also republicans. They are the force that will determine this election. With technology and the rising independent mind, I see control freaks and secrete combinations being derailed and delayed down the road from their centralized machinations. As for the current dichotic, two party system, we have the tea party attacking the republicans but nothing attacking the democrats within their party other than a very small handful of individual politicians.This will always label the tea party as extreme. This is why we need a third party working inside both parties rather than one that is separated from them. Proving consensus is the goal, otherwise both parties will marginalize and polarize each other away from a third party. I think this is what people are looking for more than the right candidate. They are looking for the vestiges of a real republic where they have voice and not for a popular democracy where all they have is a cubical vote. However, this is where the occupy movements, the tea party, the independent minds etc. all lack teeth. While they feel frustrated to vote without voice, they choose to engage only in voice. The only thing that can bring the two together is an open source virtual republic that secures voice and promotes the vote defined by that voice. In other words, a democratic republic is quickly becoming more and more satisfying to the taste of many even though most do not know what it is.

    If I may offer a non-threatening quote from an American scripture…

    “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a kind, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

    Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge then according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.” Mosiah 29:38-39

  10. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    To those who are talking about the devil dividing and conquering. You are assuming that I think the most important thing is to get rid of Obama.
    Too many people place too much importance on the Presidential race in what happens for the next four years.
    I am looking at it this way:
    If Obama wins, it would be a defeat on some fronts, but it’s guaranteed to only be 4 more years of Obama as President.
    If Romney wins, the RNC is validated in it’s mob-like tactics of dealing with any people who disagree with them, and receive no message from the many who are extremely angry about how they are creating an even more transparently aristocratic system within the republican party. The effects of what they are doing will last much longer than 4 years, if they are validated by having their candidate beat Obama.
    I will not vote for either candidate. I will research the other candidates that will show up on the ballot to send a clear message from me that I intentionally voted for someone other than the RNC’s anointed without giving my vote to Obama.
    They may not interpret the message that way, but they will have been defeated when they thought it was most important to win, and hopefully be forced to try and see what they did that caused this.

  11. Keith

    11 years ago

    The problem is this linear format of discussion. It robs us of consensus and forward movement. It is deadly. When Jefferson wrote to Adams, it was one way, and then back the other. With an open forum the focus is consensus, like the discipline of a jury or the solitary voice of Socrates or Martin Luther King against entrench powers. Yes these power centers always enter to take command of the forum or the voice, but you can see them over time. And this is the secret, more time.

    In time all is revealed in a truly open design, like the first Lincoln Douglass Debate. However, in a short and linear rant like this format, there is no return of enquiry, no relational focus, no affirmative and no negative rebuttal, and no requirement to reach consensus because there is simply no time allowed. When you say something in a linear format and it falls on deaf ears, that can be understood. But for the original content of what is being discussed to get lost in dichotic thinking (polarized passions), this is non productive. Over time and in the right design, all insecurities die and all vanity washed away. Question, and I am sorry if off topic, but can technology repair our republic and can it rid us of our polarities? Not yet, but it must.

  12. Leah Dunn

    11 years ago

    I think that we should really all vote Ron Paul, but it seems everyone is afraid to vote anything other than Republican or Democrat. But, it really doesn’t matter who gets in there as long as the people that run the Federal Reserve are still in control. There is a speech that Kennedy did before he got shot and he was trying to warn the American people about this. Until we stand up to the Builderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the UN, and Federal Reserve, it really won’t matter who is in office because the people in office are not really in control.

  13. Keith

    11 years ago

    I agree with DeMille on voting your mind if not in a swing state. If you are in a swing state, the lesser of two evils applies. Consider this. When Bush was in office, he did not order the killing of American Citizens, but he did it anyway through a drone strike without a direct order on who to kill. However, Obama actually ordered the killing of one American citizen and his son as a bonus. As for Romney, he too would have signed the NDAA, but you have to ask yourself, would he kill American citizens without due process? If you think he could never do that, then he must replace Obama, therefore vote for him in a swing state. If not in a swing state, yes by all means vote for Paul. Oops, write in Paul.

  14. Deirdre

    11 years ago

    Thank you Keith! That finally answered my question and makes sense. Since, I am NOT in a swing state, I now know what I’ll be doing. 🙂

  15. Brendan

    11 years ago

    I’m here in Ohio and I actually think I’ll vote Gary Johnson. I actually think that, from a voting perspective, that I can move the Libertarian perspective into political discourse (which it’s currently lacking) by showing the Republican party that they lost my vote by adopting a social conservative and big government (although a different type of big govt than Democrats), and it cost them the election. If enough people in swing states make a showing in the LP and Ron Paul write-ins, and make a big enough percentage that had they voted Romney he would have won, I think the GOP will notice. That’s my strategy at least :S

    In a clearer wording, I mean that say Obama gets 48%, Romney gets 47% and Johnson gets 4% in Ohio, then perhaps Republicans will notice they lost 2% due to their current strategy. I think that’s realistic, rather than believing Johnson will win

  16. Bryan Hyde

    11 years ago

    I chose to write myself in for president this year. If that sounds too self-serving, I invite you to read my explanation of why I did so: http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2012/10/25/perspectives-the-candidate-i-never-thought-id-vote-for/

  17. Keith

    11 years ago

    Good for you Bryan. I voted for myself on two ballots, however I went third party for President. If a third party can reach that threshold of %5 percent, then it can secure better funding and more inclusion. Voting for yourself is a good third party approach, but less organized in focused impact. It is not vanity and I am in full support of voting your conscience, but I am also for affecting some amount of change. This was the first year I did not vote for a single D or R. It felt good. What is concerning, though, is the voter fraud. California’s Prop 37 was running a 2 to 1 in favor of GMO labeling before the election and then suddenly those numbers flipped at the voter booth. You can almost bet that when certain corporate interests are willing to dump over 40 million in an ad campaign against prop 37, this means they had no intention of loosing.

  18. Gerhardt Goeken

    11 years ago

    “Manus unus est manus manus totus” – “The hand of one is the hands of all.” By participating in an election, i.e., “voting” you lend legitimacy to whoever wins. Whoever wins is supposed to represent you and acts in your name. When the choice is between the lesser of two evils, then people will be divided in their opinions over which is the greater evil. The only benefit to voting third party is the “feel good” factor in the act of voting itself, but the reality is that you have still lent your legitimacy to the winner. The reality of the polarized political system we presently have is that the losers have no way of getting their agendas implemented.

  19. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    @Gerhardt Goeken:
    First, you state that “The only benefit to voting third party is the “feel good” factor in the act of voting itself…”
    That’s and interesting claim. What is your data that there are not other benefits? I see several other benefits.

    Second, what is your alternative to voting? Is there another choice than the three you mentioned – vote D, vote R, or vote 3rd party? The losers still have the option of speaking out and informing others. Failing to vote is lending legitimacy to voting in general, not to the policies and position of the winner. The fact that the winner only won with a small percentage majority informs the winner that their victory is not solid confirmation of what they stand for and that in order to keep their supporters in the majority they must adjust to address the concerns of their detractors, thus giving the “losers” a way to get their agenda implemented.

  20. Gerhardt Goeken

    11 years ago

    @Ammon Nelson:
    The alternative to voting is, of course, dictatorship. It is not a palative solution just yet and I hope it never is. There is no escaping the fact that participation in democracy implies consent with what ever the result is. This being said, I think democracy can be more than a zero sum game. The implementation of instant runoff voting, for example, could do much to take away the “lesser evil” aspect of our political choices. I believe Jefferson had it right when he held that democratic form of government succeeds best with a well educated, well informed electorate. Should the franchise be denied to obvious morons? It is tempting to say “yes.” When your choice is enlightened dictatorship versus ignorant mob rule, is it fair to consider the current status of the society in which you live? Perhaps democracy is not the best form of government for all times and all peoples? I will only say that societies which move from democracy to dictatorship rarely get an opportunity to get democracy back again.

  21. Ammon Nelson

    11 years ago

    How is the person determining who is an “obvious moron”not a dictator?

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