Why don’t we vote?

8 Nov

Someone should make, in the style of “Why We Fight” (which is a really good documentary, by the way) a documentary about people who don’t vote.
         Call it “Why We Don’t Vote” or something better.
Maybe I will do it. In any case, it would be fascinating. It would be a tricky thing to make, because I’m not interested in exploring the question of whether or not one should vote, although it certainly overlaps and would come up. It is a fact that many people don’t vote. But why don’t they? That’s what I’m interested in.

Is it really just apathy that leads to large numbers of people not voting? The people I know that don’t vote don’t seem apathetic about it. If their reasons could be oversimplified and summed up I would say that they don’t vote because they don’t think voting actually matters. That’s far from apathy though. They care, they have opinions and ideas, they just don’t know how to get them expressed in a meaningful way.

American people who do vote seem to be sure that they are not only right to do so, but that those American’s who don’t are wrong.
         That’s dangerous, because it comes from a strict “Us vs. Them” dichotomy, and we’ve all seen what that can lead to. You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.

Did you not vote? Why not? Do you not? Why not?

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5 Responses to “Why don’t we vote?”

  1. sylness November 9, 2006 at 4:30 pm #

    It’s not that people who don’t vote are with the terrorists, it’s that they somehow don’t want to use the tools available to them to make the changes they want. Which doesn’t make sense to me, especially for people like you who want to change the world they live in.
    P.S. I didn’t vote yesterday. The absentee system is fucked.

    • junorhane November 9, 2006 at 6:04 pm #

      It’s that the tools available are the wrong ones for the job.
      You can’t use a screwdriver to pound in a nail.

      • kirawen November 11, 2006 at 4:04 am #

        Amen.

      • historyoflosers November 11, 2006 at 5:40 am #

        That’s too vague a statement. Is it the democratic process that is flawed or the people who are practicing it? People are better at disenfranchising themselves more so than any corporation could. If people don’t speak up, how do they expect to be heard? Voting is one way of speaking up. Maybe, in the last presidential election, there was no difference between voting for Bush or for Kerry. However, (for example) in last Tuesday’s election the people of South Dakota rejected a proposal already approved by the governer and legislature that would have banned all abortions. In this case, the the people who turned out to vote made a real difference.
        I didn’t vote because I don’t have residency in my state.

      • junorhane November 12, 2006 at 4:22 am #

        To which statement are you referring as “too vague”? I assume you mean my “you can’t use a screwdriver to pound in a nail.” I used that to show how it can seem like voting doesn’t matter. It can seem like the voice you’re allowed to have through voting is a useless tool.
        However, this is too complex for statements like that to serve as the be-and-end-all of the conversation, and I didn’t mean it to be a “final answer” sort of thing.
        You bring up, for example, that voting for president and voting for or against a proposal are two different things, with two different degrees of usefulness (or non-usefulness). This is true, and it’s led me to realize that it’s not even as simple as People Who Vote and People Who Don’t Vote. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people only vote in local elections for local propositions.
        I question though the difference between “making a real difference” and “preventing things from getting worse.”
        Perhaps they are the same thing in this case, but the South Dakota example could almost be read as a strawman arguement. Abortions are not banned currently, but the South Dakota Governor and some Legislators want to change this. They write and approve a bill (the strawman) to ban all abortions. The population votes against them (knock the stuffing out of the strawman). Abortions are still not banned. Nothing changed.
        If nothing changes, is a real difference made?

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