The past few days I was in a back-and-forth with Alana at Random Thoughts of a Crazy Liberal. It was not one which I would consider ideological in nature. Quite the contrary, I suspect we probably agree on most issues. No, it wasn’t about ideology, it was about methodology. In particular, it was about voting.
Please understand, I am not telling you that I think you shouldn’t vote. You may, in fact, be aptly represented by either a hyper-aggressive asshole or a spineless puppet. That’s not for me to decide, it’s up to you. I have nothing to sell, I have no horse in this race, and I assure you: this is not an attempt to persuade.
Rather, I wish to explain something. When you vote, you aren’t voting against someone. You aren’t choosing the lesser of two evils. You are voting for someone, and you are – if you use this logic – admittedly voting for an evil.
Then again, you might like your Senator or Representative. There are some I wouldn’t mind having represent me, like Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders, but I don’t live in Ohio or Vermont.
It’s not that I don’t care, it’s not that I don’t have time, it’s not that I’m uninformed, it’s not that I oppose the idea of voting, and I’m even registered. Quite simply, if I don’t actually agree with a candidate, I won’t vote for them. I will only vote for someone who actually represents me. If I voted for a Democrat who opposes abortion, opposes gay marriage, and thinks Muslims need to stay out of our country… I honestly wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror. I would lose sleep over it, knowing I literally had a small part in making the world a more intolerant place.
This is the current reality of the two-party system. I agree with neither party’s rhetoric, I am appalled by the track record of each, and yet I am not deterred. I know new political movements will arise, and I know it will probably take some more Republican douchebaggery to actually motivate liberals to take off the gloves and stop pulling punches.
The Democrats are no more liberal than Republicans at this point, and in many ways they are worse. While Republicans come out and say how conservative they are, Democrats will lie to your face during the campaign, then bend over backwards for conservative interests once in office. At least Republicans are honest about how horrible they are, while Democrats sucker a lot of decent people into voting for them.
What good can ever come from not voting? Nothing, directly. However, when a large portion of a voting population doesn’t cast a ballot, something strange happens: new groups come out of the woodwork to woo those voters. Every time you vote, you are saying “I agree, this system works, I condone what’s going on.” Voting in the intellectually stagnant state politics is currently in is the surest way to make sure liberalism dies, but you must be willing to vote when the next big thing comes around.
Until the day there actually is a liberal on my ballot, all I can do in good conscience is publicly voice my opinion, register to vote, and be on the lookout.