I had it easy. My grandfather, whom I barely knew, was legend in our family for his boundless support of FDR and the New Deal. My parents had worked in the 60s for civil rights and voter access. And by junior high school, I'd been led into so many voting booths that I just assumed yanking the short curtain closed and pulling those levers shaped like public park chess pieces came with being a grown-ass American. Now you can drink, now you can buy tobacco or rent a car. Now you can vote. Welcome to adulthood!
Not everyone is that "lucky" if we wanna call it that. Statistically, voting tracks with whether your parents vote regularly but also your education and income. Doesn't mean poor folks or high school dropouts or young people new to the workforce and adulthood don't care about who sits in public office. Instead they know too well that whatever laws and policies whomever sits in public office enacts will crap on them more than the rest of us. Since Election Day, is a work day, why try and leave work to vote on an outcome that seems against you no matter what happens?
Why vote then? I never answer that with lecture language like “Citizenship”, “Duty” and “Founders”, because I'm ignoring my own privilege and sounding like an asshole. I'm in a lucky position, thanks to my race, gender and income, to think about voting as a noble American calling. I have the privilege of time and space to think about this, instead of just common sense. So when I meet someone who doesn't see the point of voting, no matter where they are in their lives, I stick to reasons dipped in common sense like….
In order to complain...you gotta participate.
You don't get to bitch and moan that the party sucks if you didn't show up for it. Voting at the very least is saying "I'm here." Which is pretty much what being a grown ass American--going to work, paying bills, looking out for the people that matter to us--is about too.
One vote matters, even if it doesn't feel like it does. Whether or not you personally buy "Lemonade" makes exactly zero difference in whether Beyonce is a world famous pop star. But you do it not just because "Formation" is the jam, but your purchase says you believe in it. You want Beyonce Nation to succeed. Voting makes the same statement.
Speaking of the same, aren't the candidates/choices really the same?
Quit it with that horseshit excuse and use your eyes. If both candidates were exactly the same
a) There'd be no arguing between their supporters
b) They wouldn't have hundreds of people volunteering their time on behalf of a distinction without a difference.
You really think the whole country's encouraging you to vote as a way of wasting your time over a choice that really isn't one?
Ignorance isn't bliss. It's stultifying misery. Politics might not be your thing. It isn't really mine. But frankly, it’s a terrible existence standing by watching life be decided for you. Do you let someone else chose what you wear, drive, where you live? Why would you not speak up regarding how your tax money is spent, whether roads get paved or how late the zoo is open on Sundays?
The outcome will always suck less if you had a hand in it. Some days we win, some days we lose and some days it rains. All of those days feel less terrible if we seized them rather than let them seize us. Because living is doing, not waiting for someone else to do it.
And we're lucky to have the chance to live and vote on how we live, whether or not someone led you into the voting booth as a young punk like me.
It's open now. There's your "why."