Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My counter-argument to the statistical arguments against voting.

From time to time, someone who writes about politics for a living will publish an essay on the reasons that they themselves do not vote. Some cite that you are more likely to die on your way to the polling place than to cast a vote that decides the outcome of an election. I could say that many have undergone greater risks than a simple car ride to the polls and have made great sacrifices just so you could vote, but that does not seem to have an effect on certain people. If you don't vote, the First Amendment still protects your right to complain. However, whether or not elected officials will listen to your complaints or recognize your First Amendment right to complain is highly dependent on the outcome of elections. And you complaints simply do not carry as much weight among your fellow voters if you don't vote. The reason why anyone complains or complements at all is because we hope to influence the attitudes of others. And attitudes are contagious. If you don't vote, the people around you who share your beliefs and values are that much less likely to vote. And that attitude of apathy can spread. It is a fact that you by yourself will probably never decide the outcome of an election. But you and the people around you very well can. A local race can be decided by less than 20 votes. A national election can be decided by a few hundred votes. You, the people you know, and the people they know can shape the course of history by voting. And that starts with you voting.

1 comment:

Michael Enders said...

The November 2012 issue Reason magazine, of all places, has an article by their managing editor, Katherine Mangu-Ward entitled "Your Vote Doesn't Count: Why (almost) everyone should stay home on Election Day" in which she discourages people from voting and especially from voting for third-party candidates. This in the most popular magazine of libertarian thought! It may be true that a single vote is highly unlikely to change the outcome of an election, but it is even more true that failure to vote will certainly not change the outcome, at least not in the direction that you prefer it to be changed. I figure that even if your candidate does not win (the ones I vote for seldom do) the size of the margin of victory can affect who the candidates are and what policies are promoted in future elections. For example, the odds are heavily against Gary Johnson being elected President, but if he pulls a lot of votes, politicians in all parties will take libertarian ideas more seriously.