Democracy and civic duty

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of not voting because they feel like they would then be forfeiting the only power they have over who governs. But your vote contains no power. It is a virtually inert token of your participation, which does carry some sentimental value to some people. But it has no election-swinging ability. There are plenty of actions that can make a difference but casting your vote isn’t one of them.

In the media, your vote is billed as a precious choice with resounding consequences, which means you should watch a lot of election coverage so that you don’t screw it up. Now think for a moment: who might have an interest in having you vastly overestimate the importance of your vote? The candidates, and the news organizations that talk about them 24 hours a day.

You’ve been had. They don’t want your choice to be logical, they want it to remain emotional.

~ David Cain from,

Next election, when you see me not wearing an “I Voted!” sticker, go ahead and ask me if I voted.

I’ve stopped looking at everyone’s lapels to see if they voted, and I’ve stopped asking people if they are going to vote. If and when politics comes up, I talk about topics that matter to me. My civic duty—and I believe it is a duty which I fulfill partly in exchange for reaping the benefits of living in a civil society—is to participate in the demoncratic process. That process includes a tiny, irrelevant show of theatre where some people see me at the local polling place. That democratic process also includes a much larger amount of other stuff; my working to understand the issues that interest me so I have an informed opinion. …and then using my brain to participate in the democratic process by browsing, negotiating, buying and selling in the Marketplace of Ideas. I hope to see you there here.

Thanks for browsing my wares!