Many reasons have been given for “why” each of us should vote. There’s really only one: a representative government cannot exist without input from the people. If we don’t accept our responsibility to speak up at the polls, we’re literally asking for the oligarchy to usurp our agency.
Unless you are seeking to overthrow our entire system of government, you need to vote to make our republic work. Even if you are happy with the status quo, you should be expressing your pleasure with a vote for the incumbent(s). If you object to what Washington is doing, complain after you get yourself to the polls to put your opinions in writing!†
The United States isn’t a direct democracy, of course, but a representative one wherein we elect others to do the work of governing on our behalf. Whether you are for or against the size of the current government and its many agencies, your role in the system remains unchanged. You vote as a signal for your representatives to follow.
Failing to vote is really a failure to uphold the American value system as a whole. It suggests that our founders were mistaken when they rebelled against monarchy and taxation without representation. Not voting is a demand that someone else usurp your power; specifically, your right to self-governance.
This right is the linchpin to what made America great. I’d argue that the ideas that “all men are created equal” and that our leaders are only “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed“ have been our most valuable export. When only a minority of American citizens exercise the right to vote, we really aren’t acting like a nation of free men and women with any justification for world leadership.
You want to make America great “again”? And I disagree, by the way, with the use of the past tense in that statement!
- Vote in every election, not just presidential ones every four years, but also for local matters.
- Vote for what you believe, not against someone or something you’ve decided to unilaterally hate.
- Use your mind to evaluate the issues; plumb your soul to balance practical realities against thorny moral questions.
Vote because you can, and because you owe it to your nation and its continued successes, for yourself, and for every other American besides.
Your freedom depends upon it! Not because someone else is acting to take it, but because you are considering giving it away through inaction.
Let freedom ring; give it your own voice.
†And if you couldn’t be bothered to vote when you had the right to do so, don’t even try to engage in political debate with me. I consider you to have abdicated the right for me to hear your opinions by your inaction on Election Day.
3 thoughts on “Vote because it is your civic duty; your freedom depends upon it”
As someone who comes from a place where officials watched you vote (doubly dismal because there was usually only 1 person to vote for), I heartily agree – voting is essential and not to be taken for granted. But, I am a little dubious about trying to get people to just vote as a primary objective: it seems to me that people who are on the fence about whether they plan to vote or not probably haven’t spent a ton of time developing reasoned, informed opinions. I’m not sure it helps anything to just have larger numbers of people show up and vote. What we want is *informed*, *reasonable* people to vote – it’s their votes we need, not random votes. So I guess I would prefer to exert pressure not at the point of “go vote” but at the upstream point of “go learn the necessary background info, figure out what you believe, and then go vote”. Without that first part, they may as well stay home. Note, I’m not suggesting we keep anyone from voting; I’m just suggesting that whatever tiny influence we have on what people do, should be applied at the critical part of getting them informed and making a reasoned decision, not just maximizing the number of warm bodies into the poll booths.
Do you suppose the average citizen was better “informed” or more “reasonable” when this nation was founded in the 18th C? I doubt it!
I’ve heard it reasoned that the Founding Fathers crafted a representative democracy for exactly that reason: to temper the common man’s potential lack of sophistication with the actions of elected men (who would ostensibly be better educated, etc.)
//Note: use of “men” because the founders were men and the voters at the time were also all male.//
Almost all voters are well aware of their fundamental orientation, conservative or democratic. Selecting a party ticket is a valid, if rather vapid, option for casting a vote.
A less sophisticated voter may only have strong opinions about the more press-covered, high-profile races. S/he can elect to fill in only those sections of the ballot. Votes should be counted even on ballots that haven’t been completed fully. (I hope this is true in all US districts, but have only checked for places where I’ve lived personally!)
By your logic, no one but a real estate attorney should buy a house. The rest of us don’t follow every word of the legal jargon on our inch-thick stack of closing papers, and yet…
Going to the polls is the best way to learn how to be a voter at the polls! Your first ballot, you may be flummoxed. Next time, you may know to read up ahead of time. I like the AAUW site to help me prepare to vote. I’ve just read about http://www.ballotready.org which seems to be a similar site.
As someone who teaches teachers, I have always thought that we (and I would include the United Kingdom, most European nations, the United States and Canada–much of the western world really), do an incredibly poor job of educating our prospective voters with regard to politics, career politicians, and being able to sort the wheat from the chaff with regard to evidence-based argument. Nevertheless, even if it comes down to an “I align myself with one party of another” position in the voting booth, it is absolutely the civic duty of every citizen to take part in elected administration at whatever level. If you don’t vote, you really have precious-little right to complain if the government of the day moves in a way you don’t like.
What a great post, and nicely said.