I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.
–Cameron, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
We’ve come to the point of the election season when people who aren’t politically-minded have had enough of the television ads, news coverage, jabbering pundits, lawn signs, robo calls, flyers, bumper stickers and every other way the upcoming vote gets shoved into the forefront.
The sensory overload is completely understandable. What I don’t understand is the willingness of people to just write the whole thing off as a waste of time and get angry at the rest of the world who actually cares.
Apathy is the reason I started this blog. I found this quote online and it inspired me:
The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.
– President Theodore Roosevelt
Most people take this quote as simply something to cheer up someone on their thirtieth birthday. But when I saw it I thought immediately about folks on Facebook declaring that they would ‘unfriend’ people who kept posting political stuff on their walls, decrying that nobody changed their minds about politics from a Facebook meme.
I saw President Roosevelt’s quote as a wake-up call to all of us thirty to sixty. We are the ones who are most invested in both the present and future of our country. We are the ones who have both experience and dreams.
However the paradox of this is that we are also the people entrenched in our lives, our careers, our families. All of our commitments make it so much harder to dedicate any extra time we may have into something as existential as questions of political policy and unseemly as electoral gamesmanship. But those commitments also make these things important.
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
– Robert M. Hutchins
Political apathy is easy. It’s convenient. It’s ironically hip. It goes well with cynicism and snark.
Ever wonder what your vote is worth?
From Jan 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012 the supporters of Proposition 30 on the California Ballot – which would increase taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by .25 percent for four years to fund schools – received $42,184,479 from donors.
During that same span those against Prop 30 have received $1,990,000. However in the first two weeks of October No on 30 groups raised $19,324,719, more than $11 million of which from one man, Charles Munger, Jr. Yes on 30 added $6,122,993 in that same span.
So for just ONE of the ballot measures in California, both sides have raised $69,622,191. Divided by the number of registered voters, which was 17,304,091 in 2008, your one vote for this one ballot measure is worth $4.
Now consider that both leading presidential candidates have combined to raise more than $1.5 Billion as of Sept. 21.
In 2010, 217,342,419 people were eligible to vote. That’s $7.19 for every man and woman who could legally cast a ballot in this country. The amount would be much more, considering only a fraction of eligible voters will actually exercise that right.
So after you add up the all the races for federal, state and local offices and the state and local initiatives and measures, your vote is probably worth more than a meal at a fine restaurant. Definitely more than the $2 Redbox movie rental you’ll spend to avoid seeing debate coverage.
And it may be worth more than that, but we’ll never know.
A ruling by the Supreme Court, controlled by conservative justices, made it possible for corporations to give unlimited amounts of money and also make donations in a way that does not need to be reported. This process has flooded the system with a ton of money, er, speech.
The difference between keeping the Citizens United decision and overturning it is one appointed justice. The next president will likely appoint two justices, meaning that either there will be a 5-4 swing to a progressive court or a 7-2, overwhelmingly conservative bench.
Elections have consequences.
The fact that corporations and uber-wealthy individuals have rigged the system so that they can pump millions upon millions of dollars into the market with ads and propaganda just so they can influence the individual vote of each citizen should be enough to let you know just how valuable and important that privilege is. And yet millions of us will ignore that collective power and not participate on election day.
In conclusion, if you don’t like how the President has run things based on your own personal experiences and facts – not because some schmuck on Fox News tells you he’s a secret Muslim, Kenyan, Marxist, Nazi, Socialist, Fascist etc. – then vote for someone else.
If you don’t like how Congress is unwilling to compromise or how many weeks of vacation they take then vote against the incumbent in your district. Just do some research and pick someone based on facts and not slogans.
If you can’t find enough information about a local candidate race or ballot measure, skip that one and go to the next thing on the ballot. You do not have to vote on every single thing. If you don’t know, skip it.
But vote. Be involved. Care about a bigger world and not just about the person you see in the mirror every morning.
Plus, you get that cool sticker.