This is written to my American readers. Please go out and vote int he midterm elections tomorrow. I say this irrespective of your political views.
There are a number of groups who are more likely to vote in presidential elections and then ignore the “less important” midterm and local elections. But that is not the way the system works. In casual discussions of politics we often tend to blame or applaud the current president for the things of which we disapprove or approve. Often, however, the president is not the one who is making the relevant policies. Many policies are made at the local level.
For example, I will vote tomorrow to renew two different local sales tax options. Those impact my daily life because, combined, they raise my sales tax level from 6% (the state rate) to 7.5% (the rate in my county of residence). Voting in a presidential year won’t impact that result. Voting tomorrow will.
There are many excuses for not voting in these less exciting elections. For example:
- My vote doesn’t really count. I already know who is going to win the congressional race (or any other example). Margins are important. Narrow margins make politicians listen more closely less their narrow margin disappear at the next election. If politicians know you, or the majority of some group you belong to, will stay away from the polls, they can ignore you. For example, young people are often cited as staying home from the polls, and more so in non-presidential year elections. Young people, your politicians can, will, and in fact do ignore you because they know they can get by with it.
- The direction is set from the top. It shouldn’t be. Change it!
- I’m too busy. Really? I don’t believe you. It doesn’t take that long. Remember that the lines are shorter in an off-year.
- There’s no difference between the candidates. This is generally quite false. I often find it hard to make a choice, though I manage it in the end. The reason is that it’s hard to balance agreements and disagreements. What happens when one candidate supports economic policies I prefer, but would vote for social policies I abhor and vice-versa. It’s not that the candidates are the same; that believe is usually the result of failing to actually study the candidates. Rather, it’s the result of the fact that none of us are likely to agree on everything. What’s more important? Don’t be lazy? Think about it and make a decision!
I think that’s enough. If you have true convictions that you should not vote, make that decision. Be aware, however, that even that decision has an impact on the results. But don’t stay home because you just can’t get up the energy to contribute.