Friday, October 29, 2010
Just One Little Vote
Inevitably it comes up in every class I teach, every semester.
Does my vote count?
Students and I usually spend a good half-hour debating the idea, and I listen to their frustrations about politics and the American political system.
In the US right now it is nearly impossible to escape the impending election. I have never appreciated the DVR's ability to fast-forward through commercials as I do now.
Every television show is inundated with political ads, public radio has interviewed every candidate under the sun, commercial radio fills my ears with ads not only for my state, but for those bordering us to the North, South, and West.
It's no wonder we suffer from voter burnout. Americans are considered "election-happy" compared to the rest of the world. We vote more often, for more races, and more positions (every single candidate), than is typical in other countries.
The media portrays a world where most races are done deals, and focuses only on the "close" races. Early and absentee voting aside, election day hasn't even happened, and we're told the results.
It's no wonder we feel like one little vote doesn't matter.
When I talk to my students, I tell them that technically this may be true. In a country of 200 million plus people of voting age, one vote is a drop in a very large bucket.
But I also tell them that it's the IDEA that one vote doesn't count that is toxic.
One single vote may not.
But when 100 million people believe "one vote doesn't count", it makes an incredible difference. In off-year elections since 1974, voter turnout has hovered between 30-40%.
In a system where lobbyists from EVERY side influence our elected officials, it is critical that we use the MOST POWERFUL TOOL WE HAVE.
Our one little vote.
Tea Party, Coffee Party, Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or Rent is Too Damn High Party-- it doesn't matter.
From your neighborhood Political Scientist, VOTE on Tuesday.
And, after you vote-- enter my contest, y'all.