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
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
Thanks for browsing my wares!
We’re not just worried about altering the vote. Sometimes causing widespread failures, or even just sowing mistrust in the system, is enough. And an election whose results are not trusted or believed is a failed election.
~ Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier has been a voice of reason for a long time. I’ve been reading what he’s written since I joined his email list in — I think it was — 1998. Generally, your life will go better if you pay attention to those things which he says are of security concern.
Click over on this one and weep at how laughably insecure our voting systems are currently. Yes, doing security well is difficult, but the manufacturers of our current voting systems aren’t even putting in a token effort.
Might not be the “anarchy” you think of at first: Ross criticizes this model from both sides: First, the options offered to the people are too limited and too easily manipulated by those with money and power. My favorite expression of this situation comes from the Cake song “Comfort Eagle“
Some people drink Pepsi, some people drink Coke.
The wacky morning DJ says democracy’s a joke.
~ Doug Muder
Forget for a moment the specific arguments for or against gun control: Does that resemble any process you studied in civics class? Do you think that’s what Lincoln had in mind when he talked about “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”?
There are plenty of other examples where the public has a definite opinion, but has been unable to get the result it wants: getting the NSA to stop tracking our phone calls, sending some bankers to jail after the known crimes of the housing bubble, or even things I disagree with, like prayer in public schools. One current issue is raising the minimum wage: It’s popular, but so far that hasn’t made much difference.
~ Doug Muder