View Full Version : To Vote or Not To Vote?

mr drinky
10-26-2012, 01:16 AM
Ok, I have to give some intro quickly or the moderators will lock and banish this thread, and I apologize up front to the mods for making your life difficult.

So here it is. I am the epitome of an independent -- this is not a political statement but more about the administrative act of voting. I voted Republican (2x), Libertarian (2x), and Democrat (2x), and I won't tell you where I am leaning right now because it doesn't matter. I am not voting. This is not about politics, but the administrative transaction of voting. I actually worked in elections and spent a good chunk of my life encouraging and helping people to vote. I've been on TV and radio telling people to vote, talked with politicians to encourage get-out-the vote, and spent years of my life caring about the minutiae of voter registries, electoral fraud, and polling day activities.

Three years ago I gave that up. I don't listen to the news or vote any longer -- and I have stuck to it. The amount of anger and frustration it takes to sort through the crap on the airwaves every two years was not worth it for me. In its place I found more happiness with family, friends, and even a strange little corner of the forum world where people are really crazy about knives.

In other countries it is a common practice to protest misguided democracy, autocracy, and idiocracy with not voting. And in some countries it is the strongest form of expressing your will. I encourage everyone to act according to your needs and will, but don't be ashamed if instead of voting you choose to sharpen a knife, discuss a custom with Devin, or do some window shopping at Japanese Knife Imports.


10-26-2012, 01:41 AM
I'm a permanent resident in the US and paying tax, but I don't have a citizenship so I can't vote... I noticed the beauty of being able to cast my vote only when I moved to the US and lost (or I guess didn't gain would be more accurate) my vote.

(I'm cool with it though if a lot of people come to us to say hi and enjoy some tea and snacks while they ponder to vote or not to vote. lol)

mr drinky
10-26-2012, 01:54 AM
OK, I withdraw the shopping at JKI option ;). Thanks Sara.

Btw, proxy voting is illegal in most countries but unenforceable. Family and spousal voting (a form of proxy voting) is, however, the unfortunate norm in many paternalistic societies. I'm not saying -- just saying -- but if someone wanted to vote in Minnesota send me a PM ;)


10-26-2012, 02:06 AM
That's a tough one to comment on without getting into the politics themselves. But I strongly feel that everyone who has the privilege to vote should do so. A few years ago I was in India during national elections and there people walk for days just to get to the next voting place to make their voice heard. That impressed me. I also think that history shows us a few examples where the reasonable ones with a voice did not make themselves heard and the unreasonable ones won. And, finally, a few thousand US troops and tens of thousands of civilians died during the past decade while countries were 'liberated' so they get the right to vote. It somehow seems awkward to say it's worth all these lives but I don't make use of my privilege myself. That's all from the same situation as Sara's - I am still a German citizen so I can't vote here either. But would love to see many more in the US do that to support a strong democracy. One of the things that could bring the country closer to being 'Number 1' in my opinion... Unless, of course, you would vote for XXXXX, then I would prefer you stay home and sharpen your knives ;)


mr drinky
10-26-2012, 02:22 AM
I can see your point. When I was in graduate school in the Netherlands the students around me were super interested in my vote and I actually took my absentee ballot to class and cast it in front of them all. They felt like they were voting too, and were really excited.

But I also have the opposite experience of seeing the allure of American democracy plummet and literally crash and burn after 2000. The Florida joke still persists. Before that, many countries wanted majoritarian first-past-the-post systems just like America ...but no more. And frankly that is a good thing.... diverse ethnic societies are hugely disadvantaged by such a system and they promote divisiveness. But the 2000 election and the subsequent wars resulting from 9/11 really pushed American-style democracy off the table. It's just what happened, and so be it I guess.


10-26-2012, 02:57 AM
Fully agree on the technicalities. Voting machines are a joke and that legislation can be used to actively keep people from voting is a scandal and a shame. But I still think making yourself heard is a good thing. If you don't vote, nobody knows whether that is because you are indifferent or whether you deliberately refuse to.

Here's a question that I hope is still unpolitical enough: maybe I am strange that way, but when I vote, my decision on whom I give my vote to is balanced between what would be good for the counrty and what would be good for myself. For example, I don't have any problems voting for a party that proposes higher taxes if I know that something meaningful gets done with the money. I do get the impression that in the US the personal gain plays a much more important role, what each person will get out of a certain election outcome gets valued much higher than what would benefit the country as a whole. Is that a misperception? Is that the norm and I am crazy? Any toughts?


10-26-2012, 08:35 AM
I'm Canadian, so this election is purely a spectator sport, for me. Without getting into the politics, I don't think that EVERYONE should vote. Everyone should have the right to vote, and we are fortunate to be from countries that allow us this right.
However, while talking politics with others, I often find that people are uninformed, biased, or apathetic - sometimes all three. Yet, Hollywood and/or a peppy hyper-caffeinated friend gets them to vote, purely because it is their right. A vote for the person/party that will run your country, change your bills and ultimately affect your net income is a big deal. Do yourself and your countrymen a favour and inform yourself and decide for YOURSELF which party you support. An ignorant vote, just to excercise a right, is worse than not voting at all. If the reason you're voting is to tell someone, "Yup, I voted", then please, just stay at home, pretend to be Canadian for the day and watch the results roll in on ABC, or CNN.

10-26-2012, 09:20 AM
My stepbrother some years ago... or, maybe it wasn't so long ago (when the heck was the last Federal election here in Canada?) ... argued to me that he wasn't going to vote because he wanted to "send a message to the clowns in Ottawa". I told him, and still believe, that not voting just means you can be totally ignored. It sends no message.

I "complain" that the Chinese community is, by and large, politically apathetic here in Canada and probably abroad. Other cultures, however, are much more vocal politically, more active politically, and their issues and concerns are heard. Whether they're acted upon is another thing, but at least they're heard to some degree.

Our political systems aren't perfect, and the administration and execution of the democratic process is certainly not perfect, but I think it is vital to participate and to do what we can to correct or protect what we can. That isn't even a possibility in many other places in the world because individual voices don't count - there's not even lip service to the importance of individuals and their concerns.

I struggle too when I feel that I have to choose "the least worst choice" in an election, but I think it's still important and worthwhile to make a considered choice. The flip side, I think, is that those who didn't vote really have no ground to stand on later on when the officials make decisions that they feel are incorrect or downright wrong.

Maybe things are different in the United States. I get the clear sense that the media treats things differently, and certainly the words thrown around by each side have a different feel than over here. Still, I believe that withdrawing from the process doesn't bring any benefit and just makes it easier for things to get worse. That's my view on it, at any rate.

10-26-2012, 10:13 AM
Around the time of Nixon there was a small movement whose concept was to not vote because you could never change the system from within. It didn't work, and never will. National politics can seem remote to our everyday lives at times but I believe there is a responsibility to vote and a responsibility to work through the issues critically - not easy with the spin on each side of the issues - and it makes a difference. I am not sure whether you should be ashamed or not - that's your choice. I would be.

mr drinky
10-26-2012, 10:30 AM
For me, Stefan's question about whether it is personal or for the good of the country is interesting. I used to be purely good-of-the-country voter since I was living abroad and not really affected too much by what was going on in the US, but since moving back I have become more personal in my preference. But I also find personal voting preferences puzzling. Minnesotans are extremely anti-tax and constantly mention that they are over taxed. That may be the case, but most of them have never experienced a state with lower taxes and less efficient government -- these are actually the people who are most vocal about taxes. Go to Alabama, Texas, DC or any other number of states that have low-tax, poor governments. The roads are worse, the public schools suck, there's trash all over interstate, the DMV is a horrible experience, and on and on. I actually trust Minnesotans on using my tax dollars...whereas I probably wouldn't trust someone in Louisiana with my tax dollars.

With that said, if you choose to vote for fewer taxes and smaller government, you ultimately are still taxed -- it just becomes a private tax. If the public schools suck, the funds you have to pay to send your kids to a private school is a private tax. You are just choosing whom you trust more -- you still pay unless you choose not to have kids ;)


Dave Martell
10-26-2012, 11:09 AM
Even though I want to partake in this discussion myself I'm closing the thread because it's political and we have a no politics policy. Sorry folks....