Not Voting Does Not Equal Required Silence

By way of introduction, I have never been one to criticize those who choose to not vote. A decision to not vote is not necessarily a dumb one and anyone who criticizes those who don’t vote is guilty of a horrible intellectual mistake. But then again, even a cursory examination of my choices in life proves that I don’t have a clue what in blazes I’m doing.

We have all heard the refrain all of our lives: “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to your opinion.” Please add this to the list of goofy things people say because they don’t have a better or more logical argument for you. Other than it is a factually goofy thing to say, it violates the very idea of our republic.

I admit that having a cynical attitude is a terrible justification for failing to vote. However, many people have legitimate reasons for arriving at their opinions about voting and the political process. I vote.

Who has the biggest impact: someone who votes but can’t effectively voice their opinions and influence those around them OR non-voters who are very articulate and convincing? A motivated non-voter can do more damage to a political cause by using his intelligence to negate the appeal of a candidate or ideal.I concede that most non-voters tend to be apolitical and apathetic. But some non-voters are adept at making some interesting appeals to people who do vote.

Since I am rambling, I have noticed in my personal experience that the ones who grumble most at non-voters tend to be conservatives rather than liberal. It might be a bias in my mind, but I am careful about listening when I hear someone berating a non-voter trying to voice an opinion.

I try to remind people that registering to vote is a good thing, if only so that you can sign petitions and participate in other aspects of the system. If you aren’t a registered voter, you lose your voice in the petition process. It’s an important one these days.

When I was younger, I was caught up way too much in the political machinations and stupidity of it. My personal opinions about any specific thing weren’t that important in the scheme of things. I realized that getting irritated or worrying or arguing about politics was nothing more than a means to literally waste my life. Now, I enjoy watching other people stress and go grey-headed over things that they have very little ability to affect. I still admire people who can get out and try to get their opinions across, though.

If you can’t or don’t vote, don’t let people attempt to silence you. You do have the ability to keep talking, writing and participating. Voting is a small part of participating in our society’s system of politics. (Truthfully, I’m not sure that your money donated toward the political cause of your choice doesn’t have more impact than your vote.)