It’s election season in the USA, so let’s talk about that. Not the candidates, but my philosophy of voting.
(Though I’m not going to talk about the candidates, it’s probably easy to figure out who I’m voting for from my twitter feed. If authors expressing political opinions annoys you—though it shouldn’t—I suggest you avoid that. If not, have fun.)
First and foremost: vote. No no no—I don’t care if your vote “won’t matter.” I don’t care if it’s “logical” to say that your one vote almost certainly won’t decide the election, though it might on critical down-ballot races. You’re right! It probably won’t. But vote anyway. Voting is a useful lie, like love or justice or fairness. No, your vote probably won’t matter, but do it anyway, because otherwise the people who aren’t smart enough to realize that will decide the election.
(Another way to look at those not-so-smart people: they’re the ones who aren’t getting in their own way. Maybe rationalizing your way out of voting isn’t so smart? Just a thought.)
By the way—and this ought to go without saying, though for many it doesn’t: I mean all of this even if you don’t vote for the same people I do. Democracy isn’t a game. Think about your positions seriously and vote, or those of us who do vote will decide the election for you.
Now. There’s another issue that’s rearing its ugly head in this current election, and I want to address it. That issue is protest voting.
Protest votes are fuckin’ stupid. If you’re planning to lodge a protest vote, you’re being dumb. Stoppit.
I say this for many reasons, but chief among them is this: voting is an expression of politics, and politics isn’t an arena where anyone comes out feeling good. You shouldn’t. If you come out feeling totally happy, you’re either extremely lucky or you’re doing something wrong. Probably the latter.
The point of voting is not to feel good about your vote. The point is to use the best information available to you to move the world toward your preferred future. Lodging a protest vote so that you can walk out of the voting booth feeling self-satisfied is irresponsible. You’re choosing to feel good in the moment rather than materially change your reality—however marginally—for the better.
That’s why, when I go to vote, I’ll be voting like a minority. Compared to the privileged members of the majority—hi, straight white male here *waves*—who feel they’re entitled to a protest vote so they don’t have to sully their hands with dirty politics, minority voters have it right. African Americans and Evangelical Christians alike are reliable, disciplined voters, given not to flights of fancy, but to diligently protecting their incremental victories and continuing to push forward. They do not roll the dice on the long shot because, unlike the majority, they have far too much to lose.
Look. If you’re in congress, and your leadership tells you they have more than enough votes to pass a bill, so you can vote against it to protect your seat, fine—protest vote away. But that congressperson is actually doing exactly what I said: they’re using the best information available to them to move the world toward their preferred future (bill passes, they help keep their seat). They just happen to have better information than the average voter. They can also change their mind if the bill fails and is put up for a vote again—something which, as Brexit showed, regular citizens cannot do.
Cut it out with the protest votes, vote like a minority, and above all else, vote, even if you vote against me. That’s what makes the system work, and will keep it working for decades to come. Democracy isn’t a game. Take it seriously.As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).