Why I Vote Even When I Can’t Win.

How many voters will take this advice in the next two months?


Some weepy, whiny weak sister of a liberal posted on a debate board  I frequent how frustrated they were with President Obama and the Democrats and there was no point to voting in this fall’s election because everyone knows they’re  going to get wiped out anyway by the Republicans, so why bother?   

 While I fully expect the results of the election to be lousy for Democrats, I don’t allow myself to get too up or too down based upon how the fortunes of a political party rise and fall.  This is not a particularly progressive group of Democrats we have running around Washington today.  20 years ago someone like Ben Nelson would have been a moderate Republican. Today’s right-wing GOP has almost purged all of that breed from their ranks. 

 Truth be told, I’d rather see the Democrats in charge than Republicans, but since this group of Democrats aren’t particularly principled, I’m not going to cry if I wake up November 3 to a Republican controlled Congress.  I’ll accept it and react accordingly.  If the will of the people is they want what the Republicans  have to offer they should get it good and hard.  

I really don’t care if someone chooses not to vote. It’s your democracy. If you want to sit on your dead ass waiting to see what others have decided is best for you, have at it. That’s your prerogative. 

I do not. People literally died to give me the right to vote. It would be dishonoring their sacrifice for me to sit an election out and I can’t do that even when I’m not thrilled by my choices. 

Don’t give me any of that “the lesser of two choices is still evil” jive. Yes, and So what? Get involved and become a third choice. As much as I can’t stand the Tea Party, look how those unruly bastards are scaring the snot out of both political parties. The Democrats are afraid of getting beaten by them and the Republicans are afraid they’ll take over. That’s why the corporations are trying so hard to buy their way in and shape the message to their liking. 

Is this the face of an oppressed conservative?


Either support the system, change the system or smash the system. Dropping out of the system accomplishes zip and is the path of least resistance.  

That line of argument didn’t convince another poster who wrote:  

Conflation again. “The system” is not the moving force of society. “The system” doesn’t act, it reacts. And your individual vote has no noticeable impact on “the system,” as any mathematician can explain. You can make a hell of a lot more difference in the world by the things you do in society than you could ever make by going in a booth and pulling a handle to choose among two homogenized choices for boss.  

If you want to make a difference, get out there and make it. Don’t expect it to happen because you pull a lever once a year, it ain’t happening. 

Even a simple smile on your face every day will do more to change the world around you than voting ever will. 

“Don’t worry, be happy,” huh? 

It’s easy to be cynical about voting when it is viewed as a luxury. I don’t see it that way. 

Medger Evers, Viola Liuozzo, Rev. James Reeb, Rev. George Wesley Lee, Lamar Smith, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Vernon Dahmer and a guy named Martin Luther King, Jr., are among the thousands of martyrs who spilled their blood to give me a right America said I had, but because of the color of my skin, would not let me use. 

Apathy is not hardwired into my DNA. Neither is stabbing in the back all those who sacrificed out of some sense of bored defeatism. 


What others see as a pointless exercise in reinforcing the status quo, I see as the most efficient and peaceful way to changing it. Too many don’t because they are too lazy, too disaffected and too mistrusting to vote. They tell themselves non-participation in the system is circumventing it. All they are doing is forfeiting their right to have a say in how society works.  If voting didn’t change anything why do powerful, vested interests spend so much time, money and effort trying to manipulate or get around it? There’s something about voting that scares them so much they are willing to lie, cheat and kill to impede it. 

By all means, stay home and avoid this November’s circus.  If you believe the fix is in and the game is rigged , then drop out of the process if you loathe it so and don’t want to make an effort to change it. 

Just know this:  Cynics don’t change jack. 

They stand on the sidelines in cool detachment with their hands jammed firmly in their pockets and refuse to be a participant. But most cynics are neither activists nor anarchists. They give nothing. They do nothing. They change nothing. 

James Baldwin, the novelist and social critic, was a pretty astute observer of the American scene.   Baldwin knew passive and aloof disengagement only reinforces the status quo. He was correct when he observed, “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

Glum hopelessness and fatalism are always in abundance. Engagement, commitment and what Dr. King dubbed “creative extremism” is how stuff gets done.   Anyone can vote when you know your candidate or issue is going to win. It’s voting when the prospects are less certain which vindicate the process and teaches that losing isn’t the same thing as surrendering.  It’s healthy for the other side to win every so often.  If they didn’t they would stop playing.