The first political thought I ever had was in high school. I was 18 and someone asked if I was going to vote. “What’s the point of voting if there’s no one to vote for?” I said back. I was a little asshole back then. 18. Young. Little coin in my pocket and a car. No one could tell me anything. Sometimes I wish I could reach back in time to my 18 year old self and smack him hard, really hard. That desire is part of a broader phenomenon that’s showing itself as I get older. I’m starting to regret things.
Voting is important. There is no golden rule that came down from the Heavens and demanded that we have a Republic. Our society is built around an idea. Create a system where citizens have a say. This works on a local level, the poorly named “down ballot” picks. This works, of course, on a larger level. Every four years, we collectively decide who is going to run the Executive branch of our government. This is a new idea as far as history is concerned. People forget that this is a new country. We don’t have the history of Britain or France or even Saudi Arabia or Russia. We are new, with our fancy voting and our elections. This idea has become appealing, and many people copy it. One thing I have noticed more now than when I was younger is the importance of Elections. They matter. I thank and blame George W. Bush for this. I didn’t vote in 2000. I voted in 2004, but I didn’t much care. I remember going to bed early that night, safe in the thought that of course America wouldn’t make the mistake of voting for the same monster twice. Sure enough, when I woke up in the morning, there it was, a result showing he was still in office for another four years.
There are some things I bend on. Religion. Freedom of expression. All that. I don’t bend on the utter horror that was the Bush Administration. And I don’t bend on the idea that voting is important. How many women were beaten or died fighting for the right to vote? How many Black people? Voting is too important a right for you to ignore because your bed is warm.
If you read this blog, you know I’m a liberal and you know I’m going to vote for Obama. I’m fine with you knowing that. What you might not know is that I’m fine with you NOT voting for Obama. You should vote for whom ever you want. Yes, I totally and completely disagree with your decision and I think you’re wrong on moral grounds. But, I mean, at least we are having the conversation, right? At least we are talking about it. I’ve never lost a friend because of their political beliefs. I’ve lost friends because time has pushed us apart or because of a woman or because, well, just because. Never because of a belief. I don’t care who you vote for. Just so long as you vote.
If you don’t vote, however, then, for the next four years, you get the distinct pleasure of politely shutting up when grown ups are talking about governance. Politics is policy and policy is the way we decide on the form and function of our society. If you can’t get your ass out of bed early to wait in line and fill out a simple form, then you don’t get to be a part of the conversation, you spoiled, sanctimonious child.