Well, here we are only 36 hours before Election Day 2012. This election cycle has been particularly fatiguing for everyone, don’t you agree? Everyone is eager to get it all over with. But that fatigue has been building over the course of several months now, and has been parasitic to the vote itself. When I say “the vote”, I am speaking of the personal act of voting. The reality about American suffrage is, however, that our rights under the laws of this country to cast a ballot is something very unique in the course of human history — and I think I am understating it by saying even that.
So, we should be looking forward to Tuesday for the sake of being able to cast that ballot. However, I know many are looking forward to Tuesday to have closure on the arguments that have become so divisive and invasive in our lives. You may have seen this video of a little girl in Colorado crying about the ongoing presidential campaigns. It went viral (over 10 million views now) because, really, little Abby was saying what we all feel inside. Right? I know I feel like poor Abby!
This weekend I have been thinking seriously about where the exhaustion with the campaign season is taking democracy in this country. Due to the possibility of getting called to fly out of town on Tuesday, I have already voted absentee, so the “pressure” is off of me. But for many Americans, they are looking at Tuesday with one very clear decision they have to make: to vote or not to vote. And I am convinced that the political environment we live in may have just plain worn some people out to the extent that they have no desire, let alone the energy, to go to their local polling location and vote.
We should be valuing our vote at a very high level — a much higher value than what we may get out of our little red stickers that say “I Voted!” to be sure. Arguments that one individual vote doesn’t make a difference are impotent. The anarchist wants you to think that voting is simply an act of submission to politics, and that democracy is just mob rule in disguise. But does that really make sense? Is a ballot nothing more than a tool with which to rule?
At the core, an individual vote is a personal expression, indeed. Think about it. We submit ballots privately, in booths, with sealed envelopes, and we have officials and watchdogs everywhere ensuring that there is some sanctity to the process. However, entering a voting booth is a very public and communal act. Since in the United States we live in a republic, the essence of the nation and how it is governed is a public concern (that is what “republic” truly means). Via our republic’s constitution, the nation is governed through a representative democracy – every citizen with voting rights can express their choice of which persons and what laws will represent the best interests of the people as a whole. It is a personal investment into the public concern. And so, we can see very clearly, that each of our votes is not all about the individual, but rather about how the individual elects the interests of every other person. Put simply, your vote is yours to make, but it affects everyone.
Voter apathy is understandable when we are barraged with attack ads, campaign lit, yard signs, billboards, emails, online ads, phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, tweets, and ridiculous arguments around the water cooler with increasing pitch and tempo as we approach election day. But disregarding the inherent power and responsibility of our vote and deciding to avoid the ballot box is just as much of a crime as preventing another person from voting.
Let me close by reiterating a very important point: When you vote, you don’t just vote for your own sake. Voting plugs us directly into society — it is part of citizenship. Voting means we are acting to affect our neighbor’s life, not simply our own. You stand in a voting booth alone, but your ballot touches every person in this nation.
Please, vote on Tuesday.
Bonus: (NSFW, but worth a view if you are not easily offended by Kid Rock and Sean Penn)