“I don’t think it’s worth voting this year.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it — and honestly, I can hardly blame the sentiment. While every election year is fraught with drama and accusations, this one is definitely closer to reality TV, with accusations flung left and right and scandal lurking around every corner.
It’s a disaster, honestly. I can’t fault anyone for being rather cynical about the process.
But you still need to vote.
- Local elections. Most government work doesn’t happen on a national scale; it happens in the state, the county, the city, the township. Vote for your council members, your school board, your commissioners, your state representatives. I’m willing to put money down that these people will affect your daily life more thoroughly than most national laws and changes.
There are also many items on the ballot that have nothing to do with elected officials. All Minnesotans have a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this year. Everyone who lives in Worthington will have the school referendum on the ballot.
If you’re not sure what’s on your ballot, you can type in your street address and find out at myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us. If you don’t know anything about the candidates, you can find out fairly quickly — the Globe is running a simple Q&A from each candidate to help voters out.
- Votes add up. If you don’t show up to vote, the numbers won’t show you took a stand for or against the available options. You’ll be invisible, then. If you’re not willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, you can vote for a third-party candidate. Independents, anyone? Constitution? Green Party? If you reach the presidential portion of the ballot and write in “Cinderella,” at least you said something. (I don’t recommend voting for Cinderella; I don’t think she paid her tiny dressmakers. The point stands.) That said, you really should consider voting for the lesser of two evils; it could prevent the greater.
- The right to complain. This is practically a national pastime. Don’t miss out on your chance to join in! If you are able to vote but have done absolutely nothing to impact an election, you don’t get to complain about the results. You do not have the right; if someone terrible gets elected and you didn’t vote, the outcome is, in part, your fault.
Harsh? Maybe. Honest? Definitely. And if it stings, it leads right to my last one.
- You care. If you’re disillusioned with American politics enough to declare you’re not voting, you care about the outcome. You probably think our country isn’t living up to its potential. Newsflash: “We the people.” We are the country. American politics is a majority-rules system. We got us into this mess — by our silence, by our apathy, by our foolish choices — and it’s our responsibility to get ourselves back out. If we don’t vote, we’re giving up our voice in the system.
It’s not making a statement; it’s keeping your mouth shut and letting everyone else speak over you. “I’m standing against the drama by not voting!” you proclaim, as throngs of people rush past you to actually stand against the drama.
In an election, we vote for far more than a president. We vote for the schools our kids attend, the quality of the roads we drive on daily, the equality represented by our communities, the quality and availability of water, the taxes we pay, the money we make, the possibilities for new and growing businesses.
If you don’t care about any of that? Feel free to stay away from the polls and, in fact, away from all the things listed above. You may want to find a cabin deep in the woods, stock it with canned goods and salted peanuts and practice your bowhunting skills.
Everyone else — vote.