Seeing as how the deadline is approaching by which you must register to vote (Oct. 6, in case you’re interested, though after reading this column I hope you’ll have swiftly abandoned any such pursuit), I reckon it’s high-time to discuss the business of voting and why, if you’re a good citizen, you should avoid it.
Now, what with all the high-minded talk about requiring voters to possess and present ID at the polls, it’ll surprise you to know that voting is a gigantic waste of time and toil.
If there is a right to remain silent at all, then it’s the right to not vote. That seems obvious enough, this idea that the right to vote is matched by the corresponding right to not vote. No one with any mental wherewithal would challenge me on that point of logic, though I’m sure some uninitiated reader(s) will try to make a case about the Founding Fathers and what they intended.
No, this column isn’t about whether there is a right not to vote (see above), but rather that there’s in fact a duty to not vote. Below are four reasons why you should stay far away from the polls. This is hardly an exhaustive list, mind you, as I could probably, and very well may eventually, write a whole book about this topic, but four seems a nice round number, and so, without further ado:
• 1. No, your vote actually doesn’t count. Not if you live in South Carolina.
It’s conceivable that I could be getting myself in some very hot water, here, with the every-vote-counts crowd. And you know what? In some places -- places like Iowa, where the most recent Republican presidential primary came down to just eight votes -- every vote does indeed count.
But South Carolina isn’t one of those places, particularly at the presidential level. Without delving into the relative merits of each party, suffice it to say that we live in a state that always votes the same way, effectively neutering your ballot, no matter which way you vote.
• 2. Voting makes you a lazy citizen.
The reason why voting gets such a good rap is because it’s a one-and-done way to feel like you’re making a difference. Imagine if, on the first Tuesday in November, we each went out and did something genuinely useful to humankind. Send some brownies to a paralyzed soldier, take doughnuts to the tired teachers at the school drop-off line, or even just call your mom.
The point is that just because you vote, that doesn’t automatically make you a good citizen. (In fact, if you’re paying attention here, I’m saying it makes you a demonstrably bad citizen.) You can’t cast your vote, once every couple of years, and then wash your hands of your responsibility to other people.
• 3. Voting is like shopping at Wal-Mart.
Consider that a full 90 percent of congressional races come down to the candidate who spends the most money. And consider that congressional incumbents spend fully a third of their time fundraising. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but today’s elections are nothing more or less than glorified ad campaigns.
That’s why the rate of incumbency is so high -- in most cases, mom-and-pop candidates just can’t compete with established political brands, or as I call them, the “Wal-Marts of Washington.” And just like the real Wal-Mart, the Wal-Marts of Washington offer poor quality and lack ethic. You know that when you vote for them, but you recognize the name, at least, so what the heck.
• 4. You aren’t smart enough to vote.
Yeah, I went there.
If you don’t know the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit, just for starters, or if you think that China is the biggest holder of U.S. debt (nope!), then you’re doing the country a disservice by voting. Please, for the love, just stay home on election day.
And even if you are smart enough to vote (hint: if you’ve read this far along, you’re probably smart enough), you stay home too.
That’s the point here, people.
Contact Mande Wilkes, a local cultural commentator and new mother, at firstname.lastname@example.org.