Massi: More than enough reasons to vote
A student wants to know why even vote when there is an evenly-divided politic that holds the status quo firmly entrenched. His complaint is that the big issues of inequality and the decline of the middle class continue to take a back seat to resolving the culture war with its perpetual state of political divisiveness.
My response to the question “Why bother to vote?” hopes to motivate the apathetic to either get to the polls or else send in their mail-in ballot.
There are a number of reasons why I urge everyone to exercise their civic duty, including the fact that if it were not for our right to cast a ballot, we’d be living in an even more oppressive state than many are experiencing now.
When this government was established, the fundamental concept was that the will of the majority of the people, rather than any monarchy or any church or religion, would be the determinant of our choices, liberties, and lifestyles.
That there are people of every age who are unwilling to participate in what is a basic civic duty is beyond disturbing to those of us who have put in the effort to be informed and who remain advocates for all of our freedoms that were established in the Constitution and expanded and re-inforced by subsequent amendments and legislation.
What this level of apathy represents to me is essentially a failure of our educational system, as well as a tragic decline in the effectiveness of parenting skills and mentoring responsibilities. Had we as a country succeeded in these obligations to one another, we would not continue to see historically low voter turnouts, most noticeable during midterm elections. Had we been successful, we would have long ago proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we in this country are the fortunate recipients to live under a system of government with a well-established rule of law.
Our way of life in this country has its roots firmly established in individual responsibility, strengthened by a systematic vehicle that permits giving voice to our needs, wants, and injustices. Voting is one simple act that reveals one’s commitment to an expression of individual authority, an act that affects billions of lives for the better or worse.
To me this is nothing short of a miracle. One only has to look at the rest of the world’s population. Billions of people have existed, rather than thrived, under oppressive regimes that have denied even the basic human rights.
Many of the current non-voters and even some voters take these rights for granted, or else they mistakenly believe these freedoms will always be available for all to enjoy.
You don’t have to look much further than the overturning of women’s health-care choices — denying all females the right to have autonomy over their own bodies — to see that all freedoms are challenged at some point.
The fragility of individual and collective freedoms — and the need for these rights to be renewed with every voting season — should now be abundantly clear to everyone who is not sleepwalking. But, as long as you are choosing not to vote, to sit this one out, you are actually part of the problem of a lopsided equality you denounce.
In some ways, those who vote are the ones who are invested in expanding equality, and those who choose not to vote are invested in inequality. How so?
Each of us has the power of the vote. If you do not exercise that option, you are choosing inequality. You are permitting others to have greater influence over your agency and, ultimately, are putting into peril your own freedom. By not voting, you are effectively enabling any potential oppressors of individual rights to win, by default, and these winners may potentially enact restrictions to any freedoms you currently experience and do not want to forfeit.
Why would any rational person, opposed to inequality, choose to forfeit their influence to those who may not have your best interests at heart?
From my playbook, the problem here is not religion, but rather ignorance as much as it is laziness.
Some of the political divide in this country is clearly evident in which side of the religious aisle you choose to sit within. Even those who are not religious are choosing to sit in their separate aisle. But, anyone who is not living under a rock knows this country’s problems go way beyond religious positions.
To be a responsible citizen requires one to put in the work. I do not mean in terms of employment, whether paid or volunteer labor. I am referring to doing the work of becoming informed about the issues on the ballot and learning about the candidates who are going to be representing your district and the nation.
Too many people of voting age do not even look at the material provided in the voting information booklet. Many people do not subscribe to, or read, any newspapers or magazines that cover in-depth analysis. The news and political opinion they get comes in soundbites from commercials on airwaves that are propagandistic.
These outlets curry the favor of all those who are nourished by righteous indications and outrage, or who are so consumed by fear — from villains to viruses — that their prefrontal lobes become paralyzed. Whenever this happens, one’s emotions, rather than the capacity for intellectual debate and comprehension of indisputable data, tend to dominate. This brings a less than desirable outcome.
It takes time and effort to become informed about serious issues and the various proposals in order to solve problems. So, it is that the pax de deux of ignorance and laziness, that is choreographed by the those who take joy in restricting one’s personal choices and freedoms, has helped manifest a chaos that can seem insurmountable.
Choosing to remain ignorant, which is ultimately an expression of self-cancellation and a diminishment of one’s dignity, only continues to drive the descent into a collective hell rather than helping to create a heaven on earth.
It is not the devil, evil, or atheism that is at the root of this chaos, despite what any red, blue, or purple states have to say about what the decline in church memberships is doing to the country. Rather, it is the lack of vision for the power of kindness.
Be kind to yourself and to others by becoming informed with facts, not baloney. Take a position by your vote that is a reflection of your highest aspirations for a life in this country that enriches all.
Vote as though your life, and the world, depends on it — because it actually does.
Giselle M. Massi is the author of “We are Here for a Purpose: HOW TO FIND YOURS” and the novel “Just Dance the Steps.” Giselle was a journalist with The Denver Post for 16 years and now writes a newspaper advice column called “Tell Giselle.” Contact her at GiselleMassi.com.