Voting: Civic Duty or Stomach Curler?

Still can’t decide who you’re voting for? I’m with you. But many have already cast their ballots, with early voting taking place today in parts of the U.S.

How are you supposed to feel after you vote? Like you did your civic duty. Like you deserve a pat on the back. You voted for progress, you voted for ethics and moral things, you vot

ed for freedom.

But think about a bill that goes through Congress to address a pressing problem. A killer solution in the bill will usually be accompanied by pork projects, good or bad.

When I vote on Election Day, I’ll vote based on an ideal or two that I really believe in. But my vote will be a vote for ideals and the baggage that comes along with them.

No matter who I vote for, I will walk away with an immense sense of guilt for all the negative, dire consequences I may help prod into the White House. I will be an accomplice of waste and corruption. I will have chosen one of two evils, perhaps lesser or not lesser, but an evil nonetheless.

Should those who don’t vote feel guilty for abstaining? The saying goes, If you don’t vote, don’t complain. A cousin of mine won’t vote because she dislikes both candidates. She said she won’t feel bad because she tends not to complain anyway.

On Twitter, @elegantmachines (aka Jason Armstrong) put it this way:

“A couple of people recently told me that we should vote because people died for our right to do so. That sounds great, and being a former soldier, I agree to an extent. But further than that, I actually believe that people have died for our right to freedom and all that entails.

“I believe that if I am educated and informed and still do not want to vote out of principle, that is still an honorable choice. I believe it’s a fallacy to think we only have two choices. There is always the choice not to choose. Which is still, oddly, a choice.”

What if you regret your vote and complain about the very candidate you helped usher into office? Surely, plenty of voters felt that sense of disappointment with President Bush.

Another issue: Do you judge or feel judged based on your presidential candidate choice or party affiliation?

Numerous stereotypes exist: The right-wing evangelist and the left-wing granola nut to name a couple. If you vote for Obama, are you killing unborn babies, teaching kindergartners about sex and hugging trees? If you vote for McCain, are you a close-minded racist afraid of anything but the status quo, helping the environment die a slow death and waiting for Obama to be ousted as an Arab (which by the way, shouldn’t be used as a pejorative term in the first place)?

All of a sudden, revealing your presidential preference is supposed to tell someone exactly who you are. When did all Obama voters or all McCain voters become the same person?

What’s your take? Does your vote reveal a lot about you or the people you know? Will you feel excited and proud or will you feel guilty after voting? Will you vote at all?

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4 thoughts on “Voting: Civic Duty or Stomach Curler?

  1. The idea of abstaining goes against every idea of what the goal of a good old American election…winning. But, what if you truly feel the 2 answers presented before you are bad? What if you see the answer of 1+2=3 and the only answers you are given to choose from are 4 and 5? …I believe abstaining is a choice and it is there for a reason….as is a vote for a non-mainstream party or a write in candidate…don’t be fooled, the voice of someone who votes for “other” or now shows is just as valid as one that votes for a specific person…and a country that hovers between, at best, 30%-40% voter turnout for national elections speaks volumes…do we ignore those non-votes and dismiss those people as apathetic? 60% of Americans don’t care?

    What we need is more choices for a very complex position…but doing so requires a movement that may not result in winning in the short term…and that my friend is not being American….or so I’m told.

  2. If you live in Texas, it doesn’t much matter if you vote anyway, thanks to one aspect of a completely corrupt and broken system. So, here in Texas, voting is more of a rebellious statement than not voting. And one that’s quantifiable – I love comparing different parts of Houston’s many precincts to see which neighborhoods are more Republican or Democratic leaning. But, I’m also the kind of guy who could pore over census data for weeks. That’s why I’m voting. Even though I’ll never be satisfied with any candidate who has the money or the ego to run for the high office, it’ll at least give me the chance to get out of mine for an hour or so.

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