As any election season approaches, there is also the advancement of supposed “get out the vote” initiatives that come alongside it. The conventional belief is that it is truly patriotic in the best manner if someone votes, and to do otherwise is to be aiding in the other side’s “victory”…as if everyone had some obligation to have a hand in such tactics. Contrary to such a conception, I feel that such initiatives are in fact a complete disservice to the advancement of democratic accountability that is at the heart of a freedom-respecting society. Pushing individuals who really are not informed or understanding of the issues that affect this country (and by extension the world) into casting votes really only serves to dilute the voice of those who do have a handle on such things. It of course is beneficial for political parties to have support for such drives, as it muddles the voice that people have in such matters and therefore helps with holding on to power. After all, when we get right down to it, political parties only see voters as a means to an end in advancing their policies and ideas in public office (whatever they may be) and therefore should be held in suspicious regard as to their intentions. To believe that not taking part is to help the other party, or that voting for a third party candidate is a waste, is to basically believe that one is entitled to the vote of someone…and that people don’ have autonomy over their own choices, which is fundamentally counter to the constructs of a free society. No one is owed anyone’s vote if such a construct is true. Which candidate earns a citizen’s vote is, or should, be up to the values and decisions of that citizen. The chance of any one vote deciding an election is pretty remote…on a similar run to winning the PowerBall. With such odds, might as well do it for something other than the concept of winning/losing…like whether one’s beliefs align closest with a particular candidate for instance. In the end, if a person decides to vote for someone other than major party candidates…that is on the candidates for failing to convince people to vote for them.
I have much respect for someone who knows they don’t understand/care for the political issues, and decides to stay home as an extension of such a state of being. To do so shows that they understand the gravity of what is at stake in elections and know that such things aren’t to be taken for granted. That, to me, is just as patriotic as someone who goes to the polls that does have a handle on things. “Get out the vote” programs and many early voting initiatives supported by politicians are done in a manner of diminishing such a significance. Instead, I’d be open to perhaps making Election Day a federal holiday, supporting state statutes that encourage more supportive methods on the part of parties aiding voters to the polls instead of offensive ones, and more streamlined programs concerning early voting as a result. Anything that keeps our voice from being diluted to suit the ambitions of shrewd politicians is worth the effort in my book.