I spend most of my working time immersed in politics of one sort or another. Sometimes, it gets old. It rarely gets old faster than during election season — which seems to have become a 24/7 event since the 2000 election, at least from my perspective.
So if you’re one of those people who doesn’t want anything more to do with politics this year, I get you. If the name-calling, political propaganda and sometimes downright lies are enough to make you want to skip out on the entire political process this year, I completely understand.
But don’t you do it.
There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t. To paraphrase the closing line of an old TV show, there are 8 million reasons in the naked city to get out and cast your ballot. Here are six of them.
1. Politicians listen to you more (and better) if you vote.
This makes complete sense, but it’s often overlooked by people who don’t regularly vote. Why should I vote if politicians don’t listen to what I want, the argument goes.
But it’s just as valid — probably even more so — to turn that around: Why should politicians listen to people who don’t vote? Sure, in an ideal world, all of our elected (and appointed) officials would do their best to represent all of the varied interests of every citizen they represent.
News flash: You don’t live in an ideal world. We’re all motivated, at least to some extent, by WIIFM — What’s In It For Me? Political candidates are no different. They’re not going to listen to you in hopes of getting you to vote, but they will listen to you if they know you vote.
2. The House is balanced on a razor’s edge.
There are a number of trends lately that seem to be favoring Republicans — the migrant caravan currently approaching the southern border, for example, is an issue causing Republican to wake up and pay attention to the midterms.
Nonetheless, political consultant Dick Morris predicts a long election night when it comes to House results. The last 10 changes on the RealClearPolitics House map immediately prior to his comments included exactly five that moved a district in the Republican direction and five that made the district look more favorable to Democrats. He sees no wave, red or blue, in the making.
Only you can change that, by getting to the polls.
If the House goes blue, you can expect little out of it for the next two years beyond investigation after useless investigation into President Donald Trump and his administration. Those Democrats still adamant that Trump somehow stole the 2016 election from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — which seems to be most of them, lately — will have gained yet another platform for their impotent wailing.
Trump’s agenda will be largely stymied, with the exception of Senate confirmations of his federal nominations and whatever he can accomplish via executive order — which is not the way the Founders designed the federal government to work, and which can all be easily undone the next time a Democratic candidate attains the Oval Office (as former President Barack Obama is learning, to his chagrin).
If you want to see Trump’s agenda continue to be implemented, you must vote.
3. Don’t rely on what the polls say.
Or what the establishment media tells you what the polls mean, either.
Poll results are calculated using a number of assumptions on the part of the pollster. For example, if they poll 100 people and get results from 25 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 30 independents, they’ll adjust those numbers based on what percentage of each of those groups they think will actually show up to cast their ballots. (I’m wildly oversimplifying, of course, but you get the idea.)
Those assumptions have been wrong before. Go to YouTube and search for videos of CNN reporters realizing two years ago that Hillary Clinton wasn’t going to be their next president if you need a reminder of that.
As a general rule, on average, polling is pretty accurate. But polls are predictive — they ask, “If the election were held today.” The main problem with that, of course, is that the election isn’t held today, and lots can happen in just a 24-hour news cycle.
So maybe you’re thinking you don’t need to vote because the polls show your candidate safely out in front. Remember: Your candidate is doing well in polls because the pollsters are assuming you are going to go vote.
Or maybe you don’t see much point to voting because your candidate is behind. Donald Trump was behind in the polls the day before the 2016 Election Day, too. The pollsters’ assumptions about who was actually going to stop watching “Burn Notice” reruns on Amazon Prime Video and get out to their polling places were wrong, which made their math wrong.
As the old saying goes, there’s only one poll that counts: the one on Tuesday.
4. Your vote may count more than you think it will.
It’s all going to be about turnout, of course. Both sides claim that theirs is the most energized and engaged this November, but we won’t know that for sure until every vote is counted — probably two or three times, in some cases.
History is replete with examples of elections that were decided by a handful of votes one way or the other. (Wikipedia even has a “List of close election results,” not all of which are from U.S. contents, but all of which make my point that you just don’t know how much your vote is going to matter on Tuesday.)
There are also some early indications that some voters are not as excited about exercising their franchise this year as the establishment media would have you believe. A recent NBC News / GenForward poll, for example, showed only 31 percent of millennials said they “definitely” will vote this year. Only 39 percent even claimed to be “familiar with the candidates in their district.”
Those don’t sound like engaged voters to me. And if the 18-34 crowd isn’t likely to be at the polls, who else is planning to trade waiting in line to vote for waiting in line at Starbucks?
All I’m saying is: Don’t let it be you. For every other person in your town, county, district and state who decides not to go to the polls, your vote counts just that much more.
5. Forget the House and Senate. Vote anyway.
Honestly, how many bills passed by Congress and signed by the president have much of a direct effect on you? There are some, sure — too many, probably, because of decades of federal government overreach — but not as many as they want you to think.
The real issues, the ones with the potential to materially affect your life, work, family and neighborhood, are more often found on state and local ballots. You’re almost infinitely more likely to receive a visit from your local elected sheriff or mayor than your governor or congressman. You’re even more likely to deal with local law enforcement than, say, the FBI. So it behooves you to have a say in who these people are.
How many judges are going to be on your ballot? What about local city officials? What do those individuals think about issues that matter to you — zoning, for example (You don’t really want a new strip mall being built next door to you, do you?), or eminent domain. Sites like Ballotpedia.com can give you some insight into what your local ballot will look like, and you can make decisions from there about your choices.
Don’t know what your local mine inspector or justice of the peace is responsible for? You have time to do that homework before heading out to vote on Tuesday. And you should do it.
Otherwise, we may as well have local officials appointed by the rich — labor unions, real estate developers, and the like. For all practical purposes, that’s pretty much what happens in many cities anyway.
6. It’s your duty.
That’s not a word we use very much anymore, and I’ll probably get laughed at for using it here. But I think it’s important to remember that voting is not only a right, but also a privilege.
Most humans value those things we pay for. If you’ve served in the military or someone you know has made that sacrifice, then citizenship probably tastes a little sweeter to you — you’ve paid for it with your time and effort, perhaps even with your blood or the life of a loved one.
If, on the other hand, you’ve lived a life in which everything you’ve needed and most of what you’ve wanted has been handed to you through no effort of your own, perhaps you’ve never really had the opportunity to pay that sort of price. That’s not your fault.
Not until you decide not to change anything about that pattern, anyway.
But anything worth having is worth paying for. Voting may be inconvenient. It will certainly take time out of your day — more if you can only get to your polling place during peak hours, less if you can arrive when lines are shorter. But it’s never going to take zero seconds to do. You’ll probably spend a dollar or two more in gas or bus fare than you otherwise would on a Tuesday. Long lines are frustrating, even when they move relatively quickly. There’s always — always — something more fun you can be doing. (“Burn Notice” reruns on Amazon Prime Video, for example.)
It’s been said that America does not have a government of the majority, but of the majority who show up. Some claim Thomas Jefferson said words to that effect; he did not, but it’s easy to imagine him having done so. Regardless of the source of the words, there’s obviously some truth to them.
Once a year, your country needs you to do your homework to become an informed voter, and then go vote. It’s a few hours total. You probably spend more total time annually brushing your teeth. (At least, I hope you do.)
Do your duty. Show up.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.