We Can No Longer Afford Election Apathy

Another election is upon us, and I’m not sure what else there is to say to Americans about taking part in the electoral process. It’s hard to continue to encourage people to vote when it feels like the creep of radical conservatism and fascism continues to ooze its way across the nation. We’ve been fighting and we’re all tired. Here’s two things. One, I still believe voting should be mandatory and two, I think that every adult should run for an office (at any level) just once in their lives. There are organizations to help with fees and honestly, after watching the Republican party of the last 20 years, no amount of dirty past should stop anyone. Fuck it, air your dirt and get the win. We just need to make sure that no seat in this nation goes unopposed.

In 2015, I wrote an article for LEO on the precipice of Bevin winning the governor’s seat and Jack Conway floundering yet another campaign. I spoke about why I believed voting should be mandatory for all adults in the nation. If you live, work and pay taxes in the nation, your participation in the workings of the government should also be compulsory. Perhaps then, we’d have less pointing fingers because we’d all be on the hook.

I said then, “Even in a mandated system, people could have the right to refrain from casting a vote; at the very least, if regulated in a fashion similar to jury duty, with potential fines or jail time, it forces the public to show up and be counted even if simply to cast a vote for none of the above. It sounds punitive, but eligible Americans refusing to participate in national and state elections that have real consequences for all, is likewise penalizing those who vote but are underrepresented.”

But, I don’t believe in jail time or fines because most Americans can’t afford that. I think I must have been writing through my exasperation. Still, just as men must register for selective service and just as we must submit our infants to certain tests and medicines at birth, I believe asking each adult American to take five minutes to cast a vote isn’t a big ask.

But everyone can’t get to the polls.

In the way so many countries around the world have modernized their voting systems, America is long overdue. Something as simple as easier access to ballots and electronic options could help. Modernization would also help to eliminate the Republican talking point of “fraudulent” elections. Certainly, the amount of fraud is so miniscule in the current system (virtually nonexistent and often simple mistakes in lieu of malice) that simple modernizations would eradicate even the occasional times when someone makes a mistake in voting.

Why do I think we need to vote? Because I believe that a truly representative government needs to really be chosen by all the people and not just people with access. The barriers that continue to be erected against voters, particularly poor voters and voters of color, must be eliminated for the election process to be a level playing field.

There isn’t much more to elaborate on. We need to vote. We need to vote in large numbers. If you’re a person feeling “ho-hum” about this election, remember that level of apathy got us Trump and those were four really hard years. Our nation, our children, our environment and our ability to make a living cannot continue on “ho-hum.” The privilege to vote should be one that we’re as passionate about as getting a refund on a bad purchase. We can’t afford to waste money on damaged goods and we can’t afford to be the damaged goods because of bad government. Get your ass to the polls. Take a photo, tag LEO Weekly. We will see you there!

“Corporations and lobbyists hold too much influence over our politics. We allow the richest individuals in the country to tell those of us who are not how we should live,” I said in my previous article. “Too often we are then hurt by bad policies made by ineffective and dishonest politicians. Because we fail to vote, we are electing people to office who are not representative of the way our nation looks. Too often those Americans who don’t vote are the ones who need to be represented most.”

So many people can’t vote because of the folks who hold power in this country. The lobbyists and corporations have turned our political system into a marionette show with the separation between the parties only a small curtain. Giving all Americans access and an impetus to vote (via mandate or other mechanism) might help shift that power dynamic back to the ground some. Ugh, I’m already imagining the amount of spending these corporations and lobbyists would do trying to continue influencing American politics. It would be more gross than it is now, but that’s another column altogether. •


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