I know you’re out there — skulking off into the shadows, afraid to admit the atrocities you’ve committed. Americans, it is our duty to find these sorry excuses for citizens and stamp them and their filth out, grinding them into oblivion! The wretched, poisonous and most of all, un-American non-voters! (Cue the American flag, a bald eagle and the national anthem).
What a bunch of bologna. As Americans, the number one responsibility we are expected, no, required to uphold is voting. Well, maybe I’m going a bit overboard, but it seems that way anyway — especially around election time. However, there are several legitimate reasons to not vote, and people shouldn’t be persecuted for making the decision to abstain from voting.
Ask yourself: who is running in the Presidential election this November? Who are their running mates? What are their basic platforms? If you can’t answer these questions, do me a huge favor: Do not vote!
Besides, you won’t be alone. More than one-third of eligible voters did not vote during the 2008 Presidential election, according to politico.com.
Many non-voters might be exasperated with the political system. A lack of citizen faith and trust in the government could lead to the apathy I’m talking about. I, for one, can’t blame anyone who feels negatively about politics. Especially because it seems like we have corruption and scandal coming out of our ears.
Others question if their vote even counts. A lot of controversy about whether the Electoral College truly represents the nation’s voice probably diminishes voter efficacy. As we were all reminded during the 2000 Presidential election, the candidate that wins the popular vote is not necessarily the winner. Because a president must only win the majority of votes from the Electoral College, candidates focus on winning states and not a national majority.
As a democratic society, there’s a strong influence on us to vote. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proponent of voting. Everyone should at least try to become somewhat informed about decision-making and current issues. However, people who do not know or care about the issues are affecting not only their own lives, but others as well. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel confident about the issues at hand, you shouldn’t feel confident casting a ballot.
When I sit down at a restaurant to order dinner, I’m making a personal decision. If I make a poor choice, and decide to cram my face full of chicken nuggets and french fries and wash it all down with a two liter of Coke, I’m really only hurting myself. I’m the one who is going to gain the weight. I’m the one who could possibly have a heart attack during the future.
Voting is not like ordering dinner. The decisions someone makes when they’re misinformed or apathetic directly affect everyone across the country. Why would I want someone who doesn’t care about my health or doesn’t know eating cheesecake for breakfast, lunch and dinner is unhealthy make my diet decisions? That would be insane. Why do we apply the same flawed logic to voting?
Americans should not pressure those who aren’t concerned with politics to vote. That’s like encouraging someone to drive who has no driving experience. If they haven’t proven that they are qualified to drive and can do so without carving a path of destruction down the road, we do not allow them to drive. It’s a danger to society.
I’m not saying the government should make requirements about who is allowed to vote. I’m saying it is the moral obligation of each individual to decide whether they know the issues and understand our political system well enough to make an informed decision about issues that can potentially affect everyone.
Lacy Murphy is a junior French major from Springfield, Mo.