Friday, November 2, 2012

Why Are You Voting?

Often around election time I feel surrounded by a mentality that voting in the election is very important, and I don't understand why. When I was in college, I recoiled from the idea, and published an article in the school paper called "I Don't Want to Be Pressured to Vote." Years later, and after having voted, I find that I still agree with the mentality I presented then.

I think the "everyone should vote" mentality seems overwhelming and over-generalized. I think what's more important than whether you vote is why you're voting. Are you voting because everyone else does? Because you think you should? Because if you tell people you voted, they'll say "Good for you. You are a good American citizen." Or are you voting because you think you know something about the political system, and you think you have an opinion about which option would be best for everyone? If that last statement is true, then yes, I think it would be a good idea for you to vote, if you want to.

I still don't want anyone to feel pressured to vote. Especially people who feel that their political knowledge and understanding are inadequate in order for them to make a decision. Some people say that it's important to be politically informed anyway. I think it's good to be, if possible, but I also think that it's really hard to get an accurate perspective on just simple political facts. I get the sense that there are a lot of factors behind the scenes that just aren't presented to the public at all, at least not very accessibly. I like the idea that political decisions are made by people who have adequate knowledge of how the system works and care about it.


  1. I generally agree with this.

    I do have one small caveat, however. A large portion of the people I know who say that they feel their political understanding and knowledge are inadequate, actually when I talk to them, have political views that I tend to agree with more than the people who feel like they know very confidently who they want to vote for.

    So while I think the general idea of this post is true, I also think it is important for people to be honest with themselves about their political knowledge, and not under-state it.

    1. Yeah, I also think it's good for people to be honest with themselves about their political knowledge. Back in college when I knew next to nothing about politics, though, I knew that, and my political views probably wouldn't have matched yours because I didn't actually have any political views at all, except for some vague ideas, maybe. If I had voted back then, I don't think it would have meant anything. And I have a feeling that there are lots of other people like I was in college, who just don't want to, and aren't very good at thinking about politics.

      I'd like people to be more open-minded about politics in general, but in this post I'm only trying to defend people's right not to vote, and not to be judged negatively for deciding not to vote.