I KNOW, I KNOW: YOU ARE incredibly sick of this election. I know that all you want is for today to be over, and to be able to wake up tomorrow and not ever think about this election, ever again.
But, if you haven’t already, you should really, really consider getting to your polling station and voting. Here are a few reasons why.
1. If enough of us organize and vote, we can legally limit the length of elections to 3 months.
Do you realize when this election started? March of 2015. That’s when Ted Cruz became the first candidate to declare his Presidential run. That is over 19 months of election. Did you know babies can start forming words at six months? Did you know that they can walk as early as 9 months? Do you realize that this means there are walking, talking human beings alive today who weren’t even conceived when this election started?
It does not have to be this way. Canada, for example, has never had an election longer than 10 weeks. In Germany, each major party only runs 8 90-second ads on television for the entire campaign. Elections in the UK are one-fortieth as long.
Look, your representatives aren’t likely to listen to you if you don’t vote. If you do vote, do you know what you can tell them? You can say, “I care about one issue and one issue only: making the next election as short as humanly possible.” Think of it: one debate! No endless TV news dissection of “gaffes”! Breaking news that’s actually about things that happened in the world today! Seriously, guys. This is easily the best reason to vote.
2. Democracy favors the loud.
For all of its faults, representative democracy is amazingly cool in that literally everyone is allowed to make their voice heard.
Now, a lot of people think this means that the system is built to benefit everybody. But this is not the case. The system is built to benefit those that participate in it. So if you’re feeling like you’ve never been properly represented, then, well, you might be right. The best way to fix that is to start getting involved.
The first step in getting involved is voting. That’s the bare minimum. It’s important, but it’s not everything. Once you’ve voted, you can start calling your local representative and telling them how you feel about the issues. You might be surprised at how willing they or their staff is to hear you out — it is, after all, literally their job.
If you believe this is bullshit, keep in mind that there are a lot of people working very hard to make sure that many of America’s more disenfranchised groups do not vote. These people know that voting matters. That should suggest to you that it really, really does.
3. There’s more at stake than the Presidential election.
Presidential elections are sexy. They get all of the attention. But while the Presidency is an immensely important position, it’s far from the only election happening today. For example, eight states are voting to legalize either medicinal or recreational marijuana. 32 states are electing new senators — if it tips towards the Democrats, Bernie Sanders could end up in the incredibly powerful position of Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. How’s that for feeling the Bern?
Perhaps even more importantly are local elections. Local elections are a place where you can make a much bigger difference. Bothered by the potholes in your town? Don’t like the town’s schools or drug problems? Well, if you vote locally, you could quite easily cast the vote that sways the elections. Local politics is less sexy, but it’s a much better way to affect real change where you live.
4. You get a cool sticker.
Which you can then put on Susan B. Anthony’s grave. ‘Nuff said.
5. For real though, the Presidency matters a lot.
A lot of my more progressive friends are totally disillusioned by the idea of a Hillary Clinton Presidency, and this is totally fair. She’s hawkish on issues of foreign policy and wayyyy too centrist on issues of climate change. Her record of transparency has not been the best.
But she could also nominate Supreme Court Justices that may someday be essential in overturning Citizens United, or in protecting women’s health rights. She can start fighting for immigration reform, or for paid parental leave, or for closing tax loopholes on the super-rich. She probably won’t do all of these, but with a lot of pressure from people like us, she’ll have to do some.
Progress is less sexy than revolution, but it leaves fewer houses on fire. And it’s less photogenic, but I’d rather express my political views by voting than by staring down a tank.