It’s Okay Not to Vote
An optimistic message on how we can revitalize our broken democracy
If you are exhausted of arguing, and you feel that partisan politics, regardless of which side you agree with, is tearing our country apart, let me be the first one to tell you: it’s okay not to vote.
With the electoral college, gerrymandering, vote-counting controversies, there are countless arguments as to whether an individual vote matters. But let’s take a moment and look at this, not from a systematic perspective, but from an external view. Let’s try to understand whether the system, as a whole, is working for us. And if it is not, what can we do to make it better?
Firstly, we have to understand that our choices in who to vote for have little to do with the actual candidates, and more to do with the ideological basis upon which their campaign is built. Each candidate represents a party, and each party represents an ideology. But countries are not run by ideologies. They are run people going about their lives in the best way they can to fulfill the needs and themselves and their families.
The lifeblood of our country — its people, their desires and motivations — do not change when there is a new president in office. It’s this lifeblood that matters, not the figurehead which purports to represent it. We’ve become so convinced that government has such a large influence on our lives — much more than it actually has — and it’s that belief which limits us, not the actual actions of the government.
For example, there is rampant fear of authoritarianism in the United States, but it’s that fear which is holding us back — restricting our ability to thrive — more so than the threat of authoritarian rule itself.
We have come to a point where we have made politics such a prominent aspect of our lives, that we have lost sight of the things that matter most: our communities and our families.
We’ve gotten so caught up in blaming our government for things that are going on, real or imagined, that we have forgotten to take accountability for our own well being.
We have let cynicism and partisan leanings overtake our instincts to take care of ourselves.
When we take responsibility for our personal situation in the best way we can, given our circumstances, the rest will fall into place.
In this polarized political environment, voting signifies nothing more than resentment for 50% of the country. It’s a formal declaration of hate, a push, however implicit, for more division.
We are told to vote because democracy is great. But have we asked ourselves what it is about our democracy that makes it great? If acting responsibly within this democratic system means contributing to the devolution of the consciousness of our people, is it really the responsible thing to do?
Americans have to take a step back and self-reflect. We have to start to see our country as a collection of humans, rather than an embodiment of an ideology. Humans, no matter where in the world they are, have the same basic needs. We cannot assume that our system, regardless of the the principles it was founded upon, is automatically superior to others. Because a system is only as good as the intentions of the people who work within it. If our sole intention is to promote the views of our party — our ideology — then that intention will cause division. And division tears a country apart.
At its root, that division is not because of the actual beliefs or agenda of either party. The reason for the division is that we have chosen to continue buying into this system despite it evidently not serving us for a long time. We have decided to trust what we are told: that democracy is great, regardless of if it is manifesting in a way that is currently tearing us apart.
I have chosen to deliberately opt out of “belief” in the system. Because that belief does not serve me. Individual belief is all that matters when it comes to politics, because politics is just that — a set of views on issues which have no right answers, only opinions. If there were obvious right answers, there wouldn’t be a near 50% split between democrats and republicans in this country. The more we believe in politics as something that can immediately and directly affect our lives — as if by some godlike force — the more we will give weight to the individual in office, and the more we will be disappointed when it is not the person we want. Then, the more we will argue, causing more division among our families and communities.
Democracy tells us: “you have to choose between black or white”. But can we have positive intentions for our country, ourselves, and our families, without having to buy into this assumption? Absolutely. In fact, that’s the best way to assert our interest in making the best of our situation, regardless of the state of the nation as a whole. Not voting is the healthiest thing you can do for your family, and your community, because it simply removes you from the equation of division. The fewer people buying into a partisan agenda, the less division. Then, the more we can focus on rebuilding our communities, one by one, without getting angry at the government for not doing it for us.
The less we invest our energy into our government, the more it will naturally become redundant. The more it will discover the need to rebuild itself. This is not an anti-American message. Because the most patriotic thing you can do for your country is to give it the faith to get better. America is in a bad place and the whole world knows it. Black and white partisan politics are not helping. Our government has an inflated ego which is the direct result of all the anger and resentment being directed towards it. We need to take a step back. We need to move our attention away from the government and direct it towards the things that truly matter: our families and our communities.
This is the only way America will become as great as it once was, or greater than it’s ever been before.