I will be the first one to tell you that our voting system is messed up.
It is. The electoral college is no longer an efficient means of accounting for voting data. It encourages prison gerrymandering, which fuels the need for a flawed criminal justice system. And often, when you go to the polls it feels like you're voting for the lesser evil, instead of someone you actually want in charge. It's disheartening. If you feel disillusioned by the current political system: you are not alone. I get it.
You need to vote anyway.
Someone fought for your right to vote
Sure, you never asked anyone to do that. You never asked anyone to be beaten, force-fed, or killed because they wanted that right. But it happened. Wanna know why?
Because a lot of people out there don't want you to vote
That's right. There are a lot of people in power who don't want you to vote, because doing so will upset the balance that keeps the current power structures in place. It won't happen overnight, and there will be setbacks, but gradual progress is better than none at all. If you're not voting, aren't you just helping the nation remain stagnant?
Or worse, letting it backpedal.
If you're not up on your world politics: that's David Cameron. He's been the British Prime Minister since 2010, and he's the leader of the conservative party. He's probably smiling because conservatives won control of Parliament, even though they only got 37% of the vote. Now, the party is cutting crucial disability benefits, enacting laws that disenfranchise people in retirement, and severely limiting social services programs that people rely on to live. This is ruining lives. In 2013, a woman killed herself because the conservative bedroom tax was forcing her into penury. But the party still thinks laws like this are a great idea, despite how little they benefit the country. That 37% that voted for the party is actually misleading. If you count everyone eligible to vote, only 24% of eligible voters elected the conservative party. If everyone eligible to vote had participated in the election, the outcome could have been very different. However, a huge number of people, for whatever reason, did not vote. A third of eligible voters did not vote in 2015. There were actually more people who didn't vote than who supported either major party. How is that an accurate representation of what the country wants?
Yes, the system is broken. But not participating doesn't fix it- it makes it worse.
What about America? Out voter turnout rates are abysmal. About 40% of eligible voters don't vote. Yup. That means that nearly half of the people eligible to vote in the U.S. aren't voting. Who isn't voting? Young people People of color Low-income citizens Less educated The people who are frequently disenfranchised, who often have the most to lose, are the ones who, historically, have voted the least. Coincidence? Obama's campaign specifically targeted those groups, and they showed up at the polls. But only for the Presidential election. Local elections had a much lower turnout. The House and the Senate are controlled by the conservative party, and they have effectively blocked any bipartisan or liberal policy Obama has tried to pass. I'm not saying the man is perfect- heck no! No politician will ever be perfect. Because my views and opinions can't speak for the entire country, no politician should seek to be perfect by my standards. How can your views be represented if you're not voting? How are politicians going to know what you want?
We live in a democracy because we need to find compromises and solutions that work for everyone, not just a select few.
Conservatives do not want you to vote
And they're not shy about it. The voter ID laws that "prevent fraud" (which is so rare that it's basicslly insubstantial) are only one of many initiatives that discourage voters. Why? Ask the 'founding father' of the conservative party:
"I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections—quite candidly—goes up, as the voting populace goes down."
Paul Weyrich said that. In 1980.
This isn't a conspiracy. It's an acknowledged fact. The conservative party knows that if we ALL voted in EVERY election, they would no longer be in power. A democracy can only work if every member is equally represented in the system of governance. What we have right now? Is not a democracy.