Why Intelligent, Caring People Don’t Vote

by Nate St. Pierre on April 29, 2012

I am 34 years old, I have three kids, I am a productive member of society, and I have only voted one time, in one election, for one person – just to make sure I had experienced the entire process.

This article is for all the people who hate hearing that . . . and also for those who want to hear more about the reasons why. It’s a long article, so if you’re in a hurry you can jump to the short answer here. I hope you read straight through, though.

I’ve been doing this online thing for about three years now, and I think we can all agree from the scope of my work that I’m an intelligent, caring person, yes? (If you don’t agree with that, you should probably leave now, since the rest of this article won’t hold any water for you.) In all that time, and through the hundreds of thousands of people I’ve interacted with, I don’t think you’ve once heard me talk about politics.

But I’m going to today.

I would assume that most people think I don’t mention politics because I don’t want to stir up controversy or get into an argument with anyone. On the contrary, I’ve been known to start a fight or two, and I will certainly stand up for what I believe in.

Their next thought would probably be that I don’t think politics or religion belong in the work of helping others. But that’s not quite right either. I definitely don’t think they have to be there, but I have no problem with them being brought in, as long as people are civil about it.

So here’s the real reason I don’t talk about politics:

I don’t care.

Okay, that sounds pretty harsh, so let me add a caveat to that and head off a bunch of arguments by saying that I do care about basic human rights, and if a potential elected leader were quite horrible, then yes, I would oppose that person, but my definition of horrible and yours are probably very different. In fact, both sides are already thinking opposite things about what that “horrible person” looks like right now. Get me?

I’ve given the “I don’t care” answer to people in person so many times over the years, and this is where they usually start to get huffy, before even listening to my explanation. I can tell they’re offended – breathing gets a little heavier, a bit of red starts creeping into their cheeks, and I brace myself to be slammed with all the reasons I’m not a responsible adult if I don’t vote:

  1. You have to care – it’s not a privilege of citizenship, it’s a duty
  2. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain
  3. You must not care about your kids and the world they’re growing up in

Those are the top three, but there are a bunch of others I get. I’d like to respond to these, especially the last attack (for that is what it is when people question the love I have for my kids):

  1. I don’t buy this argument. Voting is something that I have the privilege of doing in our system of government. It is something that I can choose to exercise if I so desire. It is not a duty or an obligation forced upon me. And exercising this right at this time is simply not important to me, for reasons that I’ll explain shortly.

    Let’s use a metaphor – say it’s family and friends pizza night, 20 people gathered around. Everyone has put in their five bucks, and someone’s going around taking topping requests. Five for mushroom, seven for pepperoni, two for pineapple. It gets to me, and I say “I don’t care what’s on it. I’m fine with whatever.” If you’re taking the order, what would you do? Would you start berating me and telling me that it’s my duty to choose a topping, and I’m somehow less of a person for not having a strong opinion on the topping choice?

  2. Um, I don’t complain. I don’t complain about taxes, I don’t complain about unions, I don’t complain about free market, I don’t complain about Republicans, I don’t complain about Democrats. And still I get hassled about needing to make my voice heard. I’m totally fine with not having my voice heard in this matter. When people tell me that if I don’t vote, I can’t complain, I’d like to respond that if I don’t complain about the government, then they shouldn’t complain about me not voting. But I don’t, because that only starts more fights.

  3. This is one where I don’t think most people realize how hurtful they’re being to people like me, so I try not to get too upset about it. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s still tough to hear, especially from those I care about.

    I care very much about the world my kids are growing up in. They are the biggest reason I began to build philanthropy projects that have touched millions of lives – I wanted them to not only grow up in a world that’s getting better than the one I grew up in, but I also wanted to find ways to involve them in the process, and let them know that they can make a difference.

    They’ll wrap their heads around politics in due time, and they’ll make their own decisions. But for right now, I can see the happiness in their eyes when we all sit down and write a letter of hope and friendship to another hurting child, or they help me deliver gifts and joy to a struggling family. Yes, voting matters. But so does touching someone’s life in a personal way. And right now that’s a more important lesson for my kids. So don’t tell me that I must not care about them and the world they’re growing up in. I don’t want to hear it any more.

Let me take my feisty pants off for a second and see if I can explain my thought process in one simple paragraph.

I believe that voting and politics are important things. But they are not important for everyone, and we must all respect that. For me personally, politics are not my battle. I am perfectly happy to live in the United States and appreciate the freedom and opportunity I have here. I know that no matter which side is in power, my family and I are already going to have a life that’s better than most other people on the planet. I choose to show my appreciation by empowering people to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and literally change the world for the better. It is simply not important to me whether a Republican or Democrat wins the next County Executive seat. Again, that’s not to say that it’s not an important discussion, but for me personally, investing my energy into something like that is not worth my time . . . which is why I don’t care about it. I hope that makes sense.

Additionally, I choose to believe that the vast majority of our leaders, no matter which side they’re on, have their country and their constituents’ best interests at heart as they govern – they just have very different ideas on the best way to do things. If I didn’t believe this, I’d have to conclude that the entire system was broken, which would then leave us with some much bigger problems. And I don’t think we’re there yet.

I realize that most intelligent and caring people do vote, and I think that is a good thing. I freely admit that I am in the minority by not doing it. But please don’t misjudge me as being lazy, apathetic, ignorant, or misinformed.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought: When intelligent, caring people don’t vote, they very well may be spending their time and energy on something equally important to the world.

Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from everybody on this article. It’s probably the only time we’re going to talk politics on this site, so let’s get it all out of our systems right now, okay? ūüôā

If you don’t vote, tell us a good reason why. If you do, and think everyone else should too, give us your good reason why. If you have a friend that falls into one of these categories, pass this along to them – I’m interested to see how this discussion shakes out.

Aaaand, go!

  • Sarahinmi

    Y’know… It’s tough. I vote in major elections and I have, at times, felt truly passionate about a candidate and what I thought they represented. But, my stepfather doesn’t vote. And I think he’s a smart man. And one who knows a lot about a lot of stuff. And his reasoning for not voting has never been a lack of concern about the world, or some kind of unappreciative attitude about the privelege. He just doesn’t. (Actually, he has reasons – and I’m not going to speak for him)

    Candidates on ALL SIDES OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM make ALL KINDS OF PROMISES to garner votes. And while at times, I have gotten truly caught up in what they say/do, my heart feels that at this time, most of ’em are like a teenage boy on a date trying to get some action – willing to say or do ANYTHING just to close the¬†deal.¬†
    And it’s that skepticism¬†and¬†distrust that takes away from the process for me- I still vote, but¬†do I really believe what they’re saying? Um… not so much.¬†

    • I like the analogy to a teenage boy – that’s good.

      But it sounds like you do the best you can according to your own  values, which is the best we can expect from anyone . . . up to and including not voting at all, for well-thought-out reasons.

  • mksuhr

    Thank you for articulating my same views.¬† I’ve been wanting to say this for years.¬† I’d also like to add, that one’s voting tendencies and practices are a private matter.¬† I feel harassed as well.¬† It’s almost as if it’s bullying…someone thinks they know you aren’t going to vote the way that will let them get their way.¬† It’s grown up temper tantrums.¬† Anyway, what a great read.¬† Exactly what I was thinking. ¬†

    • What’s more is this: I get harassed to vote, and then if I do open up the conversation to say x good thing about Candidate 1, and x good thing about Candidate 2, the person I’m talking to goes “You wouldn’t vote for Candidate 2, would you?” Because that’s not theirs, and they want me to vote, but not if I’m going to vote for the other person.

      Sigh.

  • Katiebbergz

    Wow, people really care that much about your nonvoting habits? ¬†I consider myself a pretty political person, and I couldn’t care less if you vote or not.¬†

    Also, I couldn’t help but notice the County Executive reference. I’m curious why you chose to call out this position? ¬†Was it based on our conversation last week? If so, I take half credit for all activity on this ¬†post. ¬†ūüėČ

    • Yes, they really do. You would be surprised at how often people get riled up about it if the subject comes up and I mention that I don’t. Which is why I rarely mention that I don’t anymore.

      Yes! County Executive came from you. I was trying to think of a non-presidential position, and that’s the first one that popped into my mind. I will give you half of the credit – both positive and negative – on this post. ūüėČ

      Also, I’m glad you couldn’t care less, seriously. I’m also glad you said “couldn’t” instead of “could.”

      • anon

        ha, two of my thoughts exactly: 1) yeah, it’s amazing people care that much when you say you don’t vote, but watch out! ’cause they really do – and they’re usually angry and somehow act personally offended. 2) yay! she said “couldn’t care less” ¬†(the context and linguistics!)¬†

  • Kim – Mommycosm

    I know that no matter which side is in power, my family and I are
    already going to have a life that’s better than most other people on the
    planet. I choose to show my appreciation by empowering people to make a
    positive difference in the lives of others, and literally change the
    world for the better.

    Amen.¬† That sums up perfectly my own apoliticalness (is too a word).¬† I have many friends on both sides who try to categorize me as a Democrat or Republican.¬† I just say that I’m an American.

    Now, don’t even get me started about religion;-)

    • Religion is (hopefully not) a topic for another day, my friend. ūüôā

      I would like to add to that quote that if you look at it from an economic standpoint, no matter who is in power, I’m always going to find a way to survive and take care of myself and my family. I’d rather focus on making myself marketable in any climate than trying to sway the economic policies of the United States.

    • Claudia Tucker

      What if your life is going to be a living hell, along with everyone else, if the side that is elected destroys our country?

  • Damico

    Technically, you are apathetic about politics. Even if you have reasoning for why you don’t care, you’re still indifferent. I don’t care about baseball, and the reasons are: there are too many baseball games and I have better things to do during the summer, it moves too slow, the same teams always win… so though I have reasoning behind it, I’m still¬†apathetic¬†about baseball. For the same reason you don’t care who’s president, I don’t care who wins the world series.¬†

    Now, it’s easy not to care about politics as a white male in America, because as you said, no matter who’s in office things are going to be pretty cushy for us compared to so many other people around the globe. But part of that reason is because so many other people around the globe don’t have the luxury of voting for their governments. The ability to vote is the reason why so many people from around the globe came here in the first place. And even so, there were peoples here who still didn’t have the right to make their opinions heard (blacks, women) until fairly recently.¬†

    You can not vote because you don’t want to get caught up in it, and that’s fine. It’s not your duty. But it is a fairly important freedom compared to many other places in the world, and I think a healthy respect for it is important.¬†

    • My defense to not being labeled apathetic was going to be that I’ve thought the matter through, decided that it doesn’t impact my overall life strategy (if you want to call it that) in a big way, so I’ve decided not to care about it. Which I wouldn’t call apathetic. But then again, if the technical definition is just that you don’t care for whatever the reason may be, then I guess I *am* apathetic.

      You’re very correct in that we have it pretty cushy, in America in general and my category in specific. So I can afford the luxury of focusing my efforts on other things that make a difference, yes?¬†

      And I *do* have a healthy respect for the the freedom I have here, and the men and women who sacrificed to give it to me. The majority of the families in my family group (6 of 9), including my own, are military families.

      I see them doing things that I’m not capable of doing, and I honor, love and respect them for that. And at the same time, I am capable of doing things that they cannot do, such as organizing many thousands of people around the world to spend a part of their lives making a positive impact on others. So I do that.¬†

      We all have our parts to play, and I do mine to the best of my ability. I respect those who play the political part as well. I just don’t like it being pushed on me and told that it must be mine as well.

      • Damico

        Yes, as an individual, you can do a whole lot to affect the world in a positive way.
        BUT:I think “Why Intelligent, Caring People Don’t Vote” is a misleading blog title because you cite that intelligent, caring people DO vote. I think you’re wrapped up in why YOU don’t vote, and you shouldn’t confuse the two.¬†There have been a lot of governments, fairly recently, that have had public support and have destroyed the countries. I’d cite Napoleon, Mussolini, or Hitler, but you know them. Oh wait, Mao. Wait, Stalin!¬†

        Okay.

        So many of those people were victims of not having the right to vote, right? I understand that it’s a different¬†argument¬†– you’re arguing why it’s important to vote now versus do something in your spare time.¬†

        Well, I say the argument is so that our society doesn’t¬†turn¬†into that. So that our society doesn’t¬†turn¬†into a dystopian horror show like that.¬†

        Lots of intelligent, caring people DO vote, as you cite. No one was hating on you for not voting – you can choose not to. But I will now… because of freedom of speech. ūüôā

        • If it makes you feel better, the original title of this post was “Why I Don’t Vote.” Because yes, it’s more properly descriptive of what this article is about.

          But then again, I wanted a big discussion on these pages, and therefore I wanted more people to see it, not just my little circle of friends. And I figured that if you were to just randomly see a link float past that said “Why I Don’t Vote,” you’d be more likely to think “Why do I care if this dude doesn’t vote?” But then if you saw THIS title float past, you’d be more likely to say “Hmm, I think this dude is wrong – most intelligent, caring people DO vote. But I’d like to hear his explanation as to why some of them don’t.”

          And then I use myself as the example, because I can at least speak about my own motivations.

          100% spot-on accurate? Eh, probably not. But still easily defensible as a fair title. 

          For instance, I doubt you could tell me that all the headlines you write for DS are 100% spot-on accurate. Probably a fair bit of marketing that goes into them, eh? Same with this. ūüėČ

          As for all the rest, of course I don’t want to fall into a dystopian horror show, and I want as many people as care about that to exercise their civil rights and vote. Again, I just don’t want to be harassed to do my part in this one area, when I don’t harass others to do their part in something that happens to be more important to me personally. See my response to¬†@facebook-1004238928:disqus¬† below for more on that.

          • Damico

            Good chat. Did you know there’s an election coming up with Wisconsin? ūüėČ

          • Damico

            *in Wisconsin…

          • Really? Get the @#%@ outta here.

          • anon

            the title is what got me to click – probably for selfish reasons as i consider myself an ‘intelligent, caring person who doesn’t vote’, but it got me regardless. ¬†i think there can be just as much power in refusal, depending on the reasoning. i’m not against voting or democracies, i just think priorities are screwed up in the american political system. ¬†what kind of message would 99% of¬†citizens¬†/not/ voting send?¬†

    • azbuckeye

      ¬†OK, I know — the topic is why vote.¬† It’s not racism.¬† My initial comment (posted 8 hours after yours) was:¬† don’t vote if you don’t know; instead do something you’re effective in.¬†

      Even so, I have trouble ignoring an assumption being repeated.

      The notion that American white males have it cushy compared to so many others around the globe is simply no longer appropriate.¬† First, all Americans have it cushy compared to so many others around the globe — no need to qualify that statement by race or gender.¬† Second, since the 1970s there has been an effective campaign to bring non-white non-males into comparable statuses within society.¬† The requirements for inclusion are educational credentials and networking.¬† Third, there are lots of American white males who don’t feel they have it especially cushy in comparison to many other Americans.¬†

      Yeah, I’m one of them.¬† I know what I did wrong — didn’t network¬† for employment, didn’t take opportunities when they presented (because they didn’t look like good opportunities at the time), and did get old.

      And yeah, I know — this is anecdotal, and therefore not “logical,” as another commenter has observed.¬† I prefer to think of it as sub-statistical, as my situation is a datum within a larger set of observations.¬†

      A recently exonerated black man had this to say about the court systme:¬† “You will not get the proper representation if you are poor.”¬† Notice he did not say the issue was race or gender.¬†

      Now poor does not equal un-networked, but they are related.¬† So while these conditions are indeed apples and oranges, realize that they’re both fruit.

      How does my rambling here relate to the topic?¬† If you’re going to base your vote on out-dated assumptions that should have been superseded by statistical evidence indicating different conditions, either because you’re too wedded to what you learned in the past or because you’re too busy (or too indifferent) to do the research — if that’s how you’re going to base your vote, then the government would be better served by doing without your vote.¬† As I said, there are lots of other ways you can make the community better.¬†

  • Josh Dissmore

    ¬†Good post. I usually consider myself quite apathetic about politics, until that is, I find myself getting all worked up about a specific issue or candidate. So if I’m being honest with myself, I do take a side, and I do care about the political direction that this country takes. However, when election day comes, I usually find myself with little or no desire to vote. I had lots of “reasons” but was never sure of exactly why my apathy outweighed my fervor. Then one day I was able to pinpoint the cause of my indifference: My vote doesn’t matter.

    Most people scoff at this notion and just write me off as another 20-something who has no respect for the voting system in this country. The truth is…I don’t. With the amount of voter fraud that occurs in just about every major election in this country, my vote is immediately nullified with just one conveniently misplaced (or scratched off) John Doe. Anyone with half a brain can admit that voter fraud has played a big part in the last three presidential elections. The evidence was overwhelming on both sides.

    So where is my motivation to throw in a vote? In such an imperfect system wouldn’t I just be another joker in the deck?

    ¬†Politics has become a game of tic tac toe. If you know how to play the “game” (or the system) you already have an edge over the other guy. With my belief in the system waining, I don’t need another reason not to vote. Unfortunately, I have one.

    • Interesting. So you do care, and want to do your part to sway things the way you think they should go, but you don’t because the system is flawed and you think you don’t matter. I understand the thought, but disagree with your logic.

      Let’s say there are 1,000 total votes possible in an election. Here’s how the voting could break down:

      Candidate 1 — 250
      Candidate 2 — 200
      Candidate 2 (rigged votes) — 100

      Non-votes (people like me) — 200
      Non-votes (people like you) — 250

      In this scenario, let’s say you wanted Candidate 1 to win, and he’s leading, but Candidate 2 pulls more shenanigans than the other guy, and he can give himself a total of 350 votes. Your guy has 250. My group isn’t gonna vote no matter what, so forget us. But your group has 250 votes to spread around, and if they all vote what they think, with the current average, Candidate 1 will probably end up winning. (The numbers in this example aren’t perfect, but you get the idea.)

      Seems to me that a flawed system only sways things a little bit, whereas if everyone who had the heart to do so voted their way, it’d probably sway things more.¬†

      Which gets back to what I said earlier in the post, that if things are just totally broken so that nothing matters, we have a bigger problem. But I still don’t think we’re there yet.

      • Josh Dissmore

        ¬†…That is assuming we are talking about an election where only 1000 people are voting. I guess I was talking about something a little more large scale. And I highly doubt that the amount of people in my specific thought group would equal 25% of the voting population, haha. But I see your point. And also, I don’t feel that the system is “totally broken”, but a system that is broken to any degree is still flawed, no?

        • Obviously larger scale, and yes, the percentages are skewed, but glad you understand what I’m trying to say.

          Yes, the system is certainly flawed, no argument there. But is it flawed to the point of not working any more? Maybe you think so, probably I don’t.

  • Personally, this is where I can’t agree with you, except for one part, it is your choice.¬† I vote in every election and every race I can because it is important to me.

    One thing I would suggest you take a look at is how much time and energy it really does take to vote.¬† With how accessible information is on the internet, it is a lot easier find out what is on your ballot and what the positions of the canidates are than it has ever been before.¬† For a recent West Allis City Alderman election, all I really knew was the two incumbents and the two guys who own bars on Greenfield Ave. (yep, that’s how we roll in StAllis, elect bar owners who have free time during the day. )¬† It took me about 15 minutes to look at a copy of the ballot, find the candidates basic positions issues online, and decide who to vote for.¬† As for the actual voting, well I’m sad to say there was no line, so it took a whole extra 10 minutes on my way to work.

    An extra benefit for me personally, I take my daughter with when I vote.  The volunteers at my polling place are always happy to see kids and she will hopefully follow my example when she is older and vote herself.

    • I’m glad you agree that it’s my choice (as voting is yours), and I’m also glad that you’re not the kind of person to try to browbeat people like me into changing their lifestyle. I do appreciate your thoughts above, and note them, knowing that it won’t get any “worse” than that.

      But you said it yourself – it’s important to YOU, not me. So I’m glad that you take the time to be informed and vote your thoughts and take your daughter and set that example. Those are all good things. But they’re not things for me right now. I have other battles to fight.
      And yes, it’s easier to be informed these days, but there is still a priority list, and voting on people and issues that don’t hit my Top 10 life/world goals still don’t make that list.

  • In the UK, the British National Party has been steadily gaining a political foothold. Not because more people are voting FOR a bigoted and racist party, but because not enough people care enough to vote for an opposing candidate. The way our political system works is very different from the US from what I’ve seen, and whilst I think each government is as bad as any other, in local elections I don’t want any racist moron deciding what happens in my town, so I have to care.

  • I was totally surprised to find this in my inbox today. ¬†Because you are an intelligent caring person I just assumed that you did vote. ¬†Personally, I am a political junkie and probably have berated people in the past for not voting. ¬†Your argument makes sense but I just don’t understand it. ¬†Instead of going in to my usual brow beating -You should vote- mode, I’m trying something new. ¬†I admire all the really important things you do in the world and our teaching your children. ¬†Your work helps so many other people. ¬†What about voting for that same reason. ¬†Do you know someone who wants to vote but can’t (convicted felon, undocumented worker, a single working mother or father who cannot take the time off to stand in line and vote)? ¬†Why not vote for them? ¬†Since they can’t, you can vote in their place.

    • Thank you for laying off the browbeating – I do appreciate that. And may I add that you did take an interesting tactic, suggesting I vote for someone who can’t. That did make me stop and think for a moment.

      But riddle me this: why is it that politics seems to be an area where people are able to get away with telling others what they should do more of? Meaning, it’s perfectly understandable given the way things work that many people will read this post and tell me I should vote, for x, y and z reasons, yes?

      But why then is it not perfectly reasonable that I should ask them “what do you do to make the better place? do you serve at your local shelter? do you give to wells in africa? why do you not do more? everybody should care about the poor, the sick, those around them, etc etc etc.”

      I never do that, because it’s not my business where or how they choose to serve, or if they do at all. It’s their choice, and I respect that. If they make strides to do it, I’m happy. If they don’t . . . why is it my place to tell them they need to do so?

      I feel that people like me aren’t given that same respect, because in our society politics allows people a lot of leeway for obnoxious behavior.

      Nothing against you personally, of course – I’m just saying in general.

      Bottom line: I’ve chosen to serve in this way, and you’ve chosen to serve in another. Why do you (the general you) feel the need to tell me to change the way I serve?

  • Nate, thank you so much for posting this. My dad is a poli-sci major and I currently have a roommate who works for a union in NYC and is very passionate about politics. I have gotten to the point where I can’t even say that ¬†“I don’t care” about politics because arguments ensue. The main reason I don’t get involved in political discussions is because I don’t believe it’s a good use of my energy. I’ve been in many conversations where people say very hurtful and mean things to one another. I don’t want to participate in conversations that end in people hurting one another. It doesn’t make sense to use my energy that way. When I tell people who are passionate about politics that discussing politics ends in arguments and hurtful banter, they usually begin an argument with me. It’s simply exhausting.¬†

    The other reason I don’t discuss politics is because I studied Rhetoric in undergrad. And I know a logical argument and an argument without logic when I see one. It’s not worth explaining, even in a purely academic conversation, why their argument is illogical. Most 21st C, politically passionate citizens can typically classified as Sophists, which is someone usually described as eloquent and able to elaborately facilitate discourse to *sound* like they are presenting a valid argument, without actually presenting one. I firmly believe that when two people can be on the same page about classifying concepts, defining terms and deciding that they will not talk past one another, true understanding can happen. Instead of argument, relationships are built, compassion increases and people are able to work together.

    There is a small, but important phase happening in rhetoric during the late 20th and early 21st Cs that is called “feminine rhetoric” – it’s a type of “argumentation” that allows people to understand one another and to build things together.¬†

    My hope is that the discourse of US politics begins to shift in that way, but until then I am politely declining to engage.

    Thanks Nate.

    • I think a good rule of thumb is for us to avoid topics that almost always turn into arguments, especially after repeated attempts at civil discourse.

      Bully for you! 

      ^ that’s very old, and probably British, and very funny. you may laugh.

  • azbuckeye

    I vote most of the time, and I am a political junky.  And because I am very interested in policy, I get involved in lots of discussions about policy, and politics.  Mostly I support one side, because it and I share common principles.  Sometimes I support opposing sides, when we share common principles.  The intent of people like me is to assemble a set of governments that facilitate the operation of a society in the manner we prefer.

    However, it is my observation that a lot of people vote for the reasons that get thrown at you:¬† it’s a duty, it’s a ticket to complain, and it’s (the only valid) proof of caring.¬†

    These strike me as insufficient.¬† Frankly, I don’t like people voting who haven’t analyzed the situation, factors, solutions, and impacts.¬† I do not like votes that are cast based on slogans rather than well thought out principles.¬†¬† I do not like votes based on who celebrities like.¬† Remember, initially Hitler was voted into office.

    If someone is not prepared to vote, they should not vote, anymore than someone who  has not prepared to calculate taxes, operate on hearts, or fix car engines should engage in those activities.

    ¬†Going back to my opening para, I want a set of governments that help society operate well.¬† Nate (and many others like him) are helping society to work well directly.¬† One doesn’t need to vote to help society work well.

    • I feel the same way, that if I were to vote I’d want to spend good time making sure I had a handle on the issues and the candidates and blah blah blah . . . all of which makes me doubly certain that it’s not for me right now (that priority list thing again).

      “One doesn’t need to vote to help society work well.”

      Thanks for that. I happen to agree. ūüôā

  • Peliroo Corrice

    Giving you a thumbs up for the use of “Feisty pants”.

    I vote, and am happy and proud when I do, but don’t care if others vote or not. ¬† ¬†I feel connected to history, to suffragists especially when I vote, so I do it. ¬†I know many people through the years see voting as a sign of the idea of freedom. ¬†I think your buddy Damico said “…it is a fairly important freedom compared to many other places in the world…” ¬†I agree whole-heartedly.
     
    I don’t really care about politics either. ¬†I used to. ¬†Living in the DC area it was hard not to care. ¬†But I know that there is a large measure of things in the political machine beyond my control, so I can’t waste time worrying about that. ¬†I noticed I would get upset thinking about it, and I don’t need that.

    Compared to you, though, I noticed that I am less positive about the intentions of politicians.  I think many get into politics wanting to make a difference, but once they are in, they are forced to do things they would never do, just to stay in office.  I think many are narcissistic and crave the attention politics gives them.  I think some are hard working and sincere.  But I also think the majority are self-absorbed.

    I think anyone who would accuse you of not caring about your kids is stupid. ¬†I think it’s quite clear you love them. Your priorities are simply different in that area of civics.¬†

      

    • Yeah, I can see the view on politicians . . . but that’s a whole other blog post, haha. ūüėČ

  • I agree with you 100%. Every word. Thank you for being candid and transparent about this. I’ve personally talked to people, more often than not, who feel this way only YOU exhibited the courage to bring the discussion to the light.

    That’s why, among many other reasons, I have mad respect for you.

    I know you didn’t say this in your blog post, but I’ll add the primary reason I don’t discuss politics much in my personal or professional worlds: I am open to listening to others and learning their perspectives whether or not I agree. This has helpe me to be more thoughtful and mindful before expressing my opinions rather than being judgmental or ignorant from letting ego get in the way.

    I’ve been judged before for not being more argumentative when others wanted to debate. I’m definitely not afraid of confrontation. Like you, I have other things to prioritize that I’d rather give my energy to.

    • Thanks Berni – I appreciate the support. I have a ton of friends on both sides (hey, go figure – the entire country is basically split 50/50 for the past decade), and I try to sit quietly and listen to what each has to say, at least until it degenerates into simple bashing of the other side, then I leave.

      Still not worth it to argue about, though, especially when it gets to that stage.

  • I vote on a local level because it has more of a direct impact on my life such as city taxes. I don’t vote on a presidential level because regardless of who is in office, they are¬†not making my life better.

  • michelle

    “I choose to believe that the vast majority of our leaders, no matter
    which side they’re on, have their country and their constituents’ best
    interests at heart as they govern” except they really don’t. they don’t care about women, the poor, the disenfranchised, the sick, the starving… they care about their bottom lines, their benefits and spouting off about how their religion says they can do whatever the hell they want. since you don’t care about politics, it seems that you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on. you’ve stuck your head in the sand and aren’t seeing how bad the system has gotten or how it is headed towards getting worse

    i like you; i think you’re doing great work. helping people in small meaningful ways is amazing. however, it ignores the systemic problems that work against these same people. the impact of our efforts are diminished by issues allowed to perpetuate. we, the individuals, could broaden our impact by working on those systems, and changing systemic problems includes an active role in the political process

    • It almost sounds like you’re talking about a few specific leaders at some of the highest offices in the land. Which is certainly a fair discussion to get into, but not on this article – this one is more for the overall idea. So it’s all good, but let’s continue to keep it on that topic.

      I 100% disagree with you on the first point. Your statement about our leaders not caring about women, poor, sick, etc sounds very topical in this election season (you’re right, I don’t pay much attention, but I do pick things up), but it also sounds very focused on one level of government. ¬†When I’m talking about “the vast majority of our leaders,” that’s exactly what I’m talking about – the hundreds of thousands of men and women in elected leadership positions at every level – towns, cities, school boards, counties, states, federal, etc. The huge majority of these jobs don’t pay much at all, don’t come with a ton of power, and are a big drain on the elected persons’ time and energy. My contention is that most of these people do it because they care, and they want to make a difference. I invite you to prove me wrong on that.

      For your second point, I’m glad you like my work, and I’m thankful that you’ve been a part of it. ūüôā

      But you know what? I very much *am* going to ignore the systemic problems. As I mentioned, that’s not my battle. Let’s take a big company, for instance. Say Google. It’s like I’m a programmer, tweaking the search algorithm to make it work the best it can for every user at an individual level. That’s where my passion lies, and that’s what I’m good at. No one’s going to come to my office and tell me I’d better get started working on the big Human Resources issue we have, and tell me to start working on a management architecture that works for the company. We all have our parts to play, and I’m playing mine. I cannot understand why politics seems to be the one exception where everyone feels free to try to tell everybody else what they need to care about and what they need to do.

      Can you see no logic and acceptance in me saying “You work on your part, and I’ll work on mine?” Or do you take that as an affront?

      • ¬†This line of reasoning makes a *lot* of sense to me,¬† Nate. I seized on your comment about “the entire system [being] broken,” because I think it truly is. As a staunch Obama supporter who has deep questions about some of the choices he’s made (renewing the Patriot Act, for one), but still vehemently convinced that he’s a far better choice than the alternative and perhaps the best president in my lifetime– well, I feel a lot of frustration that all the idealistic dreams I had four years ago haven’t materialized. So yes, I question the system, yes, I vote– but in the more local elections where I don’t know the candidates in all the races, I’m more likely not to choose and to trust in the basic goodness of those running. So yeah, I guess I’m kinda right there with you. (And by the way, you do great work.)

      • michelle

        yes, my main focus is on the national platform, but i see the issues at every level. perhaps they aren’t a problem where you are, but there are many where i am. some people are not working towards the common good; they’re just holding spots or working for a select few rather than all constituents. i show up for every election, local to national, to ensure that people i believe are going to change things get the chance. you may not care about what local through national policies are put in place, but people will be affected by them. your position can come across as a lack of caring for affected people in the global sense because you yourself will always be ok. hooray for individuals. yet every individual that gets help/is ok may be one of many who have gotten nothing and will continue to flounder

        i think a business analogy is unfair as business departments are structured somewhat independently. pieces of the governmental puzzle and american society are much more interdependent. i understand your argument for everyone running with their strengths, but i feel overwhelmed and unsupported when someone says to me “i don’t care. you deal with it”. this is why i take the 2nd position you mentioned. it’s great that you don’t complain, but so many people do. those complainers put pressure on voters to take care of their political needs because they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. then they’re unhappy when voters get it wrong. you get lumped in with them because you are also asking voters to make decisions for you without input. then you’re asking elected officials to do the same.
        it’s kinda hard to be one person representing so many regardless of what
        that one person believes to be right. elected officials want to take on
        that role, polling constituents to make better informed decisions; that’s
        not the position i want to be in. removing yourself from the process does
        not remove that responsibility to consider you in the process. the
        responsibility merely shifts to those around you to make sure you’ve been
        counted. i do not accept this shift regardless of where non-voters choose
        to focus their attention/efforts. to me, it’s not fair that voters have to
        pick up the slack, whether asked expressly or not

        • Eh, my area suffers from as many problems as the next area, I’m sure.¬†

          As for my position coming across as not caring for those affected in a global sense, I can see that. Doesn’t make it true, though. I’m sure that you and I *care* about 10,000 different things and people and situations, yeah? But we can only *do* so much, maybe around 300 of them, you know? We only have so much time and energy to go around. So what do we do? We prioritize. And guess what? My priorities are different than yours? Surprise! Soooo, I work on my stuff to the best of my ability, and you work on yours to the best of your ability. This is my main point – that I wish people would be okay with this, without saying “yeah, but.”

          Also, your comment that I’m forcing other voters to “pick of the slack” for me and my wants because I don’t give any input is a bit misleading. I *have* given my input, and my input is that whatever you decide is fine with me. You’re right – I’m NOT a complainer, and I’ve given (the general) you permission to make your choices and decisions the best way you want to. I don’t see anything unfair about that.

  • I meant to comment on this forever ago- but last week was completely insane and I didn’t get a chance to do ANYTHING.¬†

    But I’m pretty much the same as you. I do vote for president, but that’s about it. Part of the reason I don’t vote is because I really am uninformed about politics – which could be a good thing, or a bad thing. I especially don’t know much about the politics locally. I hears names being talked about, but I have no idea who they are. But in a small town, I feel like local politics can get ugly because if you’ve lived here long enough everyone knows everyone else. So when you vote, you vote for your neighbor down the road.¬†

    My big beef is how the parties treat each other. People put their parties before their country, and it drives me nuts. I wish people would learn that you can disagree, but still work together and not have to tear each other down. That’s one of the other main reasons I don’t get involved. With my job, it’s really not my place to be super vocal about politics anyway. On the other hand – I also know that my views are MUCH MUCH MUCH different than other people in my church and neighborhood. If I were to share my thoughts, I would probably get murdered in my sleep. Which ¬†makes me really sad.¬†

    Also, I get really nervous when people put too much of their faith and hope in politics. Yes, we should be able to rely on our government and have a certain amount of trust in them. But at the same time – they are people just like the rest of us. They make mistakes. I have the same view as you, I don’t think anyone who goes into office goes in thinking “I’m going to destroy our country.” They do what they think is best – and sometimes they make mistakes. BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS LIKE THE REST OF US. We all make mistakes. Only theirs are more public than ours. Also, all governments will fail at some point. Yeah, sometimes it’ll take hundreds of years. But eventually, all governments will fall and something else will take it’s place. Just look at history.

    While I don’t like to mix politics and religion, ironically my view on politics goes hand in hand with my faith. (There are certain things that I feel are church issues, and things that are political, and they shouldn’t be confused with each other. But that’s another topic for another day.) In a weird way. It’s the whole “Give to Ceasar’s what is Ceasars, and to God what is God’s.” I’ll be a good citizen, I’ll vote for the president (and I don’t complain when I don’t vote for other things), and I try to be informed so I’m not completely in the dark. But then I put my faith in God – he hasn’t failed me yet. Then in Romans it says that we should respect whoever is in office (or king, or ruler, or whatever). So that’s what I try to do. Even if I don’t always agree with whoever is “in charge” I at least respect them.¬†

    OK… that comment went a lot longer than I thought it would. But I also have had like a week to think about it. lol

    • I think it’s probably my favorite comment of the article. And well put. Especially the “murdered in your sleep” bit, unfortunately.

      • I’m glad you liked it! And yeah… when certain issues come up I just keep my mouth shut. Which is hard sometimes if you heard some of the things that come out of the mouths of a few of these jr. high kids. But, I need to keep my job. lol

  • I vote in every election, and I don’t find it takes much time to do so. The reason I vote is because moral issues are very important to me and I want my opinion counted when it comes to those (caring for the poor, abortion, marriage rights, etc.). I simply CAN’T understand people haranguing you for not voting. It is a privilege, not a duty. If it were a duty, you’d have to get your citizenship card stamped at the polls. I think privilege is what the founding fathers had in mind when they shaped this country – you should have the PRIVILEGE (or right) to worship as you choose, vote as you choose, work as you choose, pursue happiness as you choose. Trying to get a non-voter to vote by guilt-tripping them is like trying to get a committed Christian to go to church by telling them they can’t fully live a Christian life without going to church. That’s not my place to say, and it’s not supported by logic or theology.

    Freedom is exactly that: in this country, you have the freedom to vote Рand conversely, the freedom NOT to vote.I say kudos! for standing up for your own opinion. 

  • ¬†You’ve gone and put my thoughts into words again. *applauds you and bows for good measure*

  • i don’t think it’s a duty of citizenship. i think we have a moral duty to actively fight for the rights of the oppressed within our own society.

  • anon

    i don’t vote. i think where i differ from you is that i am slightly more on the ‘the entire system is broken’ side. as you can understand, i’ve gotten a lot of wrath for it over the years, so i tend to now avoid the conversation, or only discuss it when it seems it will be a calm and rational conversation. i was in high school during the 2000 election – months before that, i remember bringing up how, with the current system, ¬†more people could vote for a¬†candidate¬†and yet they could lose. everyone, including teachers, blew me off. by the time i turned 18, i wasn’t interested in participating in what i feel is a broken system. i’ve come up with a few¬†analogies:¬†
    every election, we’re given a choice of apples – green, red, yellow, whatever. it’s an illusion of choice because of their differences, but until we can vote on pears or grapes, i won’t vote.¬†
    the other is a bit more crass, but addresses the whole “you don’t care if you don’t vote” argument:
    you’re given a gun, and put in a room with a cat and a dog. you’re told you can save the life of one of them, but have to shoot the other. that is the only rule you’re presented, but you’re told you have power by getting to make the choice of which one lives. well, what about refusing to use the gun?¬†

  • Agreed. If your voting on what topping to get on the pizza – your 1 vote counts and might make a difference. If you are 1 of¬† millions voting for 1 of 2 candidates – your vote is¬† meaningless.¬† Both statistically and in reality.

    I like baseball in small doses and vote on occasion (in small doses) because I was taught it was my duty as a good citizen. Don’t know why – but I OBEY!

  • I do not vote. I also rarely trust anyone wearing a tie. I quit high-school to join the military (navy) when I was 17 in 1973. I¬†volunteered¬†during the draft years. It ended two months later. If you volunteered you had to serve six years, (4 active) whereas if you were drafted you had to serve two. Vietnam still had two years of war left at the time and my first duty assignment was a gunboat that was serving in Nam. What happened is after boot camp and school, Iwas given 30 days leave and during that time my duty station was transferred to the sixth fleet, and Naples, Italy. I never saw Nam, but I sailed with some crazy bastards who did. I went on to make e-5 and got out with an¬†honorable¬†discharge in 1977. All in all, I had a great military experience and did not have to kill anyone. I state all this to address your point. I am today retired as a merchant mariner, I have sailed the world and have a document that says unlimited, which means I am qualified to steer and do duty aboard any ship of any size anywhere in the world.

    I have a right to vote. I earned it. Like you I voted once and decided to not do so again. I am not involved in any political party and the truth is the next election has already been decided by the powers that be. What is it;  538 people in the electorial college who make the only real decision?

    I do not care about what the politicians are doing, and I ask nothing from them. I do dislike all of the freedoms I see are gone if ever they were there. They erode everyday and I also see there is a balance. People who do care and shout out when they see encroachment on what the fathers of this nation once held of value. 

    I make a difference in peoples lives as I meet them, I teach my kids good values. I have impressed upon them early on that education is the key to their happiness. They know I never want them to join the military and I am quite vocal about government sanctioned killing rarely leads to freedom or justice.

    I have seen time and time again the enemies of yesterday become our allies of today. 

    People are people everywhere in the world, they love, have babies, live, and die. I want no power over anyone. I do however like to help people get on their feet. Politics is not my bag. War I hate.

    • Cora Brown

      Preach!

  • A great movie to see is wag the dog, and Hulu also has a geena davis series called commander in chief

  • Amanda Hite

    Hey there! First really missed you at Summer Camp and the Changers meeting. Second, can you believe I’m JUST now reading this??¬†

    Anyways as one of your sisters as you know that is obsessed with politics. I thought I’d share just a couple of many of the reasons why I DO vote.¬†

    So many of the issues that our government influences DO affect my life and the lives of people I care about. 

    First healthcare. Starting my own business I went without it for a year. Not because I was irresponsible but because no insurance company would offer me a plan. $30,000 later in medical expenses someone I voted for signed a new law. If it wasn’t until healthcare reform that I was able to get on a plan, PCIP. If it is repealed I will lose that insurance. I learned the hard way that above all my passions if I can’t maintain my health I can lose everything.¬†

    Unfortunately, for me, in some cases I would be treated as a second class. Let’s say I want to get “married” one day. I could go on about benefits etc but you see where I’m going. It’s important to me.¬†

    Someone very close to me’s daughter is going to school on a pell grant. Had the program changed this hard working single mothers daughter wouldn’t be in school right now.¬†

    My families hard path, my fathers transition from fighting in a war to becoming a civilian all influenced dramatically by decisions are elected officials make. 

    My passion to “do good” and be an advocate for ending childhood hunger in America also dramatically impacted based on “who’s in office” for example the proposed cuts in “Farm Bill” right now … over 67% of the funds help feed hungry kids.¬†

    I could go on….

    Unfortunately I’m afraid the system IS ¬†broken. I think when someone can spend 10’s of millions of dollars to influence and election anonymously (SPAC’s) ¬†if we’re not there yet we’re really, really close to being there. Like November close and my ¬†life, people I loves lives and work I care about all can all get a lot harder.

    Thanks for listening. 

    Love you man.
    (disclaimer I wrote this in the moment without edits. please forgive the typos and poor grammar) ; )

    • Missed you at Summer Camp too. I don’t know when I’ll run into you next, but that’ll be a happy day. ūüôā

      These comments are some of the strongest pros I’ve seen FOR voting, and I’m really glad to see that you know exactly what’s important to you (and others), and why. Informed voting is good voting, and if I ever start doing it, it’s how I hope to be.

      Love you too, girl!

  • Amanda Hite

    Also… ; )

    For what it’s worth. While my one vote alone in the state of KY may not do much. I do have influence. Last presidential election many of my friends voted for the first time. A group of us and many other passionate people rallied together before the election in a swing state, swing county and tireless canvassed etc… Election night our candidate won that county, and that ¬†by a slim margin and that county helped win that state.¬†

    What makes me sick to my stomach about a part of the system I believe is broken is the fact that our televisions are flooded with SPAC ads that are down right false, manipulative, politicians deliberately lying, going negative, manipulating the system to work in their favor because they’ve figured out that unfortunately it works.

    Ok I promise I’ll stop now.

  • White male heterosexual comfort.¬† You don’t have anything to worry about.¬† Must be nice.

    • “Must Be Nice”

      The Hispanic pansexual over here shakes his head pitifully at your bitterness.

      • Anonymous

        The other white heterosexual shakes his head in agreement with the Hispanic pansexual over there.

    • R.H.

      I’m a back female born & raised in Canada. I too don’t vote because I couldn’t care less.

  • yoyodre

    Ok, so I agree with you that it is a choice, but only in the literal sense. I feel, like Australia, it should be mandatory punishable by fine, but that is meaningless because the reality is, today, it is a choice. I don’t respect your choice (I mean this as neutrally as possible) because I don’t understand it and ultimately don’t have to, but regardless, I recognize and affirm, its your choice. As far as people having the right to tell you what you should do, we don’t really, but we have the right to express our opinions of what we think should be happening just as you have the right to not listen or care.
    I feel, although I have little way of¬†verifying¬†this, that you don’t complain, because you don’t have an incentive to complain. I do not believe that you would not complain if something truly adverse to you, your lifestyle, your¬†livelihood, your children, etc were up for vote, consistently. Granted, this is completely speculative and conjecture, but it would be illogical for you not to complain under those circumstances. This is one reason that I vote. I realize that people like Stalin, like Hitler, like Kim Jong Il, like Castro or any number of dictators didn’t immediately come to power & commit terrible acts. It starts¬†incrementally and I feel the first step in that is to not care, followed by not voting if you have that right in your country. Speaking of, I don’t think because our lives are more cushy than most of the world absolves of being involved. They had to get that way someway, and I feel voting encourages or at least maintains the¬†privileges¬†we experience. I’m a fighter, so I must be vigilant about making sure when me and mines are up on the chopping block, I did whatever it takes to prevent the worst from coming to the worst.

    I would never say that you don’t care about your children, because I feel most parents who do, tend to vote, and even if they don’t vote, I hope they still care about their children.

    I am really trying to finish all your rebuttals, although its long (like my comments…), so not to rehash something you’ve said already, so you’ll forgive me if you’ve been over something already.

    People in our day and age, in this country, are losing their rights. Losing their rights to their bodies, losing their rights to organize/unionize, bargain, lost or never had their right to marry who they wish, or have children, & have their families recognized. I can’t do anything about those things with inaction, and I would personally feel negligent if I didn’t weigh in on those things. I respect that you try to touch people in a meaningful personal way (as do I), but you yourself stated they are equally important, so I don’t understand why you would choose to do only one if they are in fact equal?

    I realize that some are genuinely uninterested, but when things affect your life regardless of your interest, its prudent to be actively involved, another reason I vote.

    I would prefer for people to vote like me, obviously as most would, but I would rather people involve themselves even if they disagree with me, because I’m of a mind that I can learn from others even in contention. I wish there was more civility (although having ugly conversations are a part of life, so I don’t let the chance of emotions prohibit me from engaging others or feel it should) and I wish attack ads were barred as unconstitutional. I definitely don’t feel you can waste a vote or its meaningless because you can write in candidates! I think people are stuck in this 2.5 party box, its insane. And as far as people lying to you, I never expect elected officials “promises” to be fulfilled, because I realize its difficult to get even a small group of adults to agree, so I expect them to promise to try.

    I understand you have different priorities than others, which should really go w/o saying. I, personally, don’t care for math. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pay my taxes because my energy could be put to more use elsewhere that happens to be more pleasing to me. Your pizza analogy offended me because it trivializes diverse issues upon which me vote. Some issues, are literally life and death. They shouldn’t be oversimplified nor ignored.

  • yoyodre

    I apologize for the length….

  • anna

    I completely see how you don’t care about politics and having to vote and all that. Your argument makes perfect sense to me. However, I do have strong opinions about politics and would probably be classified as a very liberal democrat, so I vote so that I can voice my opinions.

  • Sean

    Many countries don’t have the right to vote. Voting is a choice. The fact that you can choose who to vote for is something a lot of people have shed a lot of blood over. The fact that you have had to write so much about why you don’t vote is ridiculous. I can answer the question in a sentence. Why don’t you vote? Because I can. You don’t have to. Not voting is as much a message as voting.

  • Elly

    My response to the “you can’t complain” argument is that it’s actually the other way around: if you vote, and your chosen candidate wins and starts jacking things up, you’re partially responsible. Bed’s made, lie in it.

    That’s where the “don’t blame me, I voted for…” bumper stickers stem from, I guess.

    As for the “it’s your duty as a citizen” one, there’s no way to respond to it except to just sigh and ignore it. Trying to respond to someone who puts so much value on pure principle would be like debating with a brick wall.

    • Lolita Bell-Brown

      And, I totally agree! If you vote to put in people who don’t get the job done, then YOU can’t complain!!!

  • angelinajhon

    You have to stop caring what people think. Yes, I am talking to you. How do

    I know that this specific advice is critical for you? Simple. It is critical for everyone.

    The entire world spends way too much time worrying about what everyone thinks about them. Right now, pause and take a moment to consider what you are missing out in your life because you are so worried about what other people might think.

    Do you let other people control your actions, thoughts, and your life?

    Please leave your comments or questions in the box below. I read each one and personally respond as quickly as I can. Stop caring about what others think. Enjoy your life your way!! How many things would you have liked to have done in your life but hesitated because you worried about what other people think? If you are anything like me, it is a lot. I do not even want to think about the opportunities that were blown in my life, or the moments that I did not fully embrace because I was too concerned with other people’s opinions. Do you have anxiety worrying about what people think? Is this normal?

  • Chyenne Mollohan

    One is curious. Do you feel the same way now over a year later?

    • Quite the same, yes.

      • Chyenne Mollohan

        Another query, did you, at any point in your academic career, have Civics as part of your curriculum?

        • I did in high school, I think, and possibly in college, though I had a 19% attendance rate in college, so who really knows, I guess. Although I got a 3.5 GPA along with that rate, so I guess if it was tested, I knew it, right? Also says something about the quality of higher education even at a respected school. :-/

          I’m interested in your line of questioning/reasoning. Do you have a conclusion you’re going to share (I hope you do)?

          • Chyenne Mollohan

            It’s a theory I posited to a group of friends about the lack of comprehensive Civics education in public schools.

            I had civics in the 2 years I went to a private Christian Academy, 5-6, but none when I had to transfer to public schools. My P’s just couldn’t afford the tuition for all 6 of us.

            It started as a rant about the fact that there is a still a huge debate over Roe v Wade after 40 years. That led to a breakdown of Age, Ethnicity, Gender and Religion of members of Congress.

            This in turn led to a breakdown of voter ages, income, and ethnicity during the 2012 Presidential Election compared to the same demographics during the 2010 Midterm Elections.

            Which led me to posit “The lack of voter participation in November could quite possibly be connected to the lack comprehensive civics courses in public education.”

            Currently, I am working my through a Presentation by Charles N. Quigley to the American Bar Association Symposium about the lack of Civic in K-12.

            I know that children whose parents can afford to send them to private schools do get more access to civics and government courses than children who only have access to public education, many of whom do not go to college and end up having no clear understanding of how the Federal government works.

            I am working my way through all this and I just started today. One of my searches led to this blog. I was interested in your education in civics.

            I think people are entitled to their choices and I don’t judge non-voters. I was a non voter until I hit my 30’s. Things are different for me now. What I see happening in DC concerns me greatly. It’s quite discomfiting.

            BTW, thanks for your awesome work at google. I am able to find my data quickly! I remember the early days of public search engines. eep!

          • Chyenne Mollohan

            Interesting fact: There is an overwhelming majority of affluent Caucasian Christian Males in Congress. There is an overwhelming majority of affluent Caucasian Christian Males that vote every November.

  • Just some guy

    I’m not old enough to vote, but I will never vote. I just hate politics and what people’s devotion to their party brings out in them. I have members of my family who hate fellow Americans because they have different political views and that is just wrong. Also if you have any other questions about voting look to the great George Carlin for guidance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxsQ7jJJcEA

  • Ollie

    I do believe that voting should be an important part of any person’s life, but I don’t think it should be preached down people’s throats either. I look at voting in the same way that I look at other activities like going to pray at church. While we should admire those who do these things, forcing people to vote or go to church only dilutes the meaning of those activities. In other words, people should go to vote BECAUSE they believe that it is the important thing to do, rather than because it is what someone else told them to do.

    And politics, like money or religion, can be a very emotional subject to talk about, especially when people’s lives or fortunes are at stake. I’d like to think, however, that people can still “agree to disagree,” that we can learn from each other even when we don’t fully accept another person’s point of view. One reason perhaps why many people in America have become disillusioned with the political process is because the process seems to be dominated by endless, rather than fruitful, debate, debate fueled by special interests pushing their own agendas at the expense of others. Perhaps this is inevitable in a country as large as diverse as the United States, but it can also be alienating to people who are not invested in these debates or interests, people who are more invested in helping others rather than confronting others.

    Thank you for sharing your reasons why you choose not to vote. Voting is one of only many ways a person can make a difference in their community, and nobody should be made to feel bad because they decide not to vote in an election.

  • Steph

    Great article, I am in the UK and I do not vote as I do not follow politics and do not understand it, so I do not think it is fair on other people who do vote to have someone voting and playing pin the tail on the donkey which would affect their votes. So much going on in the world and my own country it is a mindfield for me. However like yourself I do other things to help the world in my way and what makes me feel good.

  • Daniel

    Very helpful, gives me the opportunity to see this topic from a different point of view, but I dont fully agree with everything that you say. other than that very good article.

  • Voting is pointless

    Why don’t I vote: because the system that I am allowed to make my voice heard in is corrupt. Because what both candidates stand for is equally reprehensible to me. Because I believe that unborn children and those living have an equal right to life. Because someone who uses government funding deserves to be able to live a healthy life and so do their children. Because I believe that human life is worth more than a corporation. Because I believe that we all have the right to defend our lives against people that want to take it .

  • Not voting is exactly what they want you to do.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPsl_TuFdes

  • Captain Zero

    I dunno. This sounds like a lot of people saying: “Politics is just so damn complicated that I don’t have the time or energy to try to figure it out!”

    I GUESS that’s better than having an under-informed allegiance to a political party, but I don’t think calling yourself “intelligent,” and then claiming to be too “tired and busy in the rest of life” to engage in politics is something to be proud of.

    I think a better analogy than the “choosing a pizza topping” is “picking up your own litter.” You *could* just leave it on the side of the road, it’s really not going to sway the overall messiness of the highway, and certainly not going to change your life. I mean, if EVERYONE littered it would be a huge problem (like if no one voted)… but seriously, that’s never going to happen because a lot of people choose not to litter “on principle” (like they choose to vote). There are enough of these principled people that it allows you to litter. But you’re basically mooching. So, as long as you don’t vote, that’s cool, as long as you OWN the fact that you are mooching liberty thanks to those who do vote.

    I hate to trot out the tired old line about duty… but as long as we belong to State that confers you privileges just for the random happenstance of being BORN on this soil (which you didn’t really have to work for), there should be SOMETHING you feel like you have to do to keep those privileges. I for one think there should be a mandatory year of National Service (in the Parks, non-combat military, teaching, or international aid) and would be fine if people chose not to vote after serving in some other way. It sounds like you do this, which is wonderful.

    But not voting because “it doesn’t make a difference” or “I don’t care” is a terrible reason. I don’t really care about peeing in the hot tub, but my conscience compels me to look out just a little bit for the people in the hot tub with me. Your life is not an island with just your family on it.

  • Dinah Tesod

    I am joining this discussion on voting since it is still a relevant topic today 15 September 2015. I googled, “why I don’t vote” and this was one of the first pages that came up (and the Guardian thread is already closed). In short I am a global, and can vote in three different countries, but I won’t. I see it as a vote of “no confidence” and I am hoping that if the numbers drop to 50% people will finally start questioning the legitimacy of government to govern.

    A hundred years ago in 1914 Ford halved the work day and doubled wages. Decades later labour laws caught up and minimum wages and the 8 hour day was solidified. That was a halving of the 16 hour workday. It was not based in science or social need. Here we are, a hundred years later and we still have the same structure, even though society has completely transformed. So we live an 8-hour day from before cars, women on the work market, computers etc. etc. Keynes, father of the GDP, which governments follow religiously predicted that by now we’d be living a 4-hour day. Do we? No.

    Me, a single working mother, with an expensive, valueless education, work for poor wages 8 hours among of analysts with overpriced MBAs and others with double degrees, for barely enough to support me and my child’s basic, then commute 3 hours a day, and oh, yes, I still am supposed to participate in the social reproduction of society by raising the next generation. Not in any of this do I see leadership. And I think the word government does suggest, leading in some way. Well, they don’t. And when it comes to service. Well, there is a term, across cultures “it is government”, which means ineffective, slow and poor service.

  • Margaret Linkous

    Bonjour Nate St. Pierre! You are absolutely correct! We have a choice to vote or not vote! While it is a privilege to vote, it is not a requirement!!! Do what you feel is best for you! Some people are not even aware of the fact that the president of the U.S.A. gets elected by the electoral vote, not the popular vote! I vote for some things, and not others. Shalom!

  • Sormeh Kafi

    I vote. Now let me explain to you why. I am a first generation queer woman of color, and I know my parents left Iran during the revolution to give me a fighting chance at life. A life where I could make my own choices, have powerful rights, and thrive as an individual. By not voting, I’d be letting them and myself down. I strongly believe that if a Republican goes into office there is a very real threat on my dear family members still living in Iran. And if I’m going to sit around and bitch about the techies/gentrification in my beautiful city of San Francisco, I better get my ass up and vote on propositions that can affect my county.
    I feel as though people who refuse to vote are just basking in their privilege. Soaking it in and taking advantage of an incredible right offered to us in this country. I don’t lose sleep over politics, I just participate in ways that help me feel as though my voice matters and I’m protecting the ones I love overseas.
    That is why I vote.

  • TeeAiry LoveEsque

    Thank you for writing this. It’s meant the absolute world to me.

  • JT John Tran

    It’s interesting, I looked up this topic after a friend invited me out for a Sunday drink and at some point started ranting at me about not voting. She also invited a friend who was part of some young democrats group and what started off as a nice afternoon changed into one girl ranting and another guy who said his goal is to get me to vote and that he’d be able to call his year a success if he was able to convince me to vote. I kindly said that I’m not particularly interested in politics and I don’t have the desire to vote on a topic I’m not familiar with and on candidates that I don’t trust. I also told them I don’t really want to talk about politics because people get too heated up and let’s just chill. That comment stirred up a commotion and somehow ended up with me being blamed for “why people can’t get ahead in life” and “your vote effects every single person”, “it effects my life”, “it’s your duty”, “politics is in everything that you do”, “i made a mistake when i was 16 and in the state I’m from it’s on my record for life and it’s your fault that people like me can’t get ahead”, “you’re part of the reason why things are screwed up because you don’t vote”, etc. etc. etc. What do you know, the topic got heated up while I’m just trying to chill at the bar… If anything they’ve encouraged me even more to be less inclined to vote or get caught up in politics. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m aware that it plays a part in my life.

  • surrealistodefierros

    I’m of the opinion of not voting in the next election and will gladly say why. Politicians who’d like to be president are like men (and women) who have sold their souls to become “the most powerful person in the world.) If wielding that sort of power and affecting that many lives speaks so deeply to their hearts and desires, I think perhaps there’s something sociopathic about them in the first place. I was very disappointed after the election (2008) of the current president, who came in promising to hold members of the previous administration accountable to justice for their use of torture, and in one of his first acts in the office, did a 180 degree turnabout and said “well, we have to move forward.” The current president also set about making promises before his re-election campaign of 2012 in 2011, in fact, that he would oppose a proposed appropriations bill to the defense budget that allows for the suspension of habeus corpus, indefinite detention, and even the use of the US military as a law enforcement presence within our borders as opposed to existing civil constabularies. he also gets to pick and choose whom he personally fingers for assassination should that person be so unlucky as to be deemed a terrorist, and while he promised the country he’d veto this bill when it came to his desk when the time arrived, he rolled over and signed it. Doing so, he said that its powers would “never” be used within his administration, but undoubtedly they most likely already have, and in any event,, those powers lie dormant for use by the NEXT president, and god only knows who that will be, or if THAT president will make up some excuse to put them to use. So Whomever we elect in 2016, they are granted (in effect) the powers of a king, something which no previous presidents ever enjoyed. He also promised to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, a tar smudge on the bib of American jurisprudence and a scar on the face of Miss Liberty. Seven years in, and it’s still there. Way to go! I do not wish to be lied to again nor be disappointed by another sheep in wolf’s clothing, nor to advocate for whatever the next joker decides to pull when they make their own decision to go back on their word. Which is a problem since going back on their word is endemic in their “profession.”
    I am also a creative artist and feel it the duty of the creative artist to remain aloof from the storms and brickbats of national politics. It seem so… undignified. Politics is a drag, and in America now, whoever you are, you’ll be opposed by persons who’ll call you idiot or moron just for holding the beliefs you do. American politics are so divided at this point it is a miracle a shooting war does not break out between Democrats and Republicans just on the face of things. Aren’t we all Americans, in the first place? Why are the major parties so insistent of their moral stature they consider it part of the game to belittle their opponents a priori with insults? I’m also tired of politicians telling me why the’d like me to vote for them, rather than telling me why they deserve my vote (underline that word, deserve). Does someone who spent a lifetime at the public trough for their sustenance “deserve” to continue such an existence? Esp. if they’ve never known any other vocation? I’d rather support “amateurs” than those who are seasoned and inured to the corrupt aspects of “the game.” At least they haven’t sinned, yet.
    Voting also carries with it some idea that if you don’t support one or other of two evils, then the worse evil of the two will win, since one of the evils has to, and if one should wish not to truck with an evil at all, then the logical choice is, don’t vote, because it will only encourage them and foster the culture of evils. And whoever loses will point to a more favorable third party candidate and blame them for the fact that they lost, not their own policies nor their resonance with the issues of the day.
    Voting also implies becoming part of a herd, a majority or a minority, and being swept away with whatever madness man manifests in such a group, in its numbers. When one prefers to think for one’s own self, one stands aloof and aside from these types of aggregations, for the simple fact that, one never knows if the herd themselves will be wrong, or one might be trampled beneath the stampede of “majority rule.” The majority isn’t always right, and minorities aren’t always wrong.
    So I am probably committed to sitting at least the next one out Whoever wins, they are guaranteed to be an asshole, since only assholes grow up wanting to be to be President of the United States. They deserve every grey hair that they get.

  • Modifish

    I have voted once, and it was wasted by the electoral college, but my reason was to experience the process at least one time. My reason for not “doing my duty” is that i am always in 50/50 agreement with the legitimate candidates on important issues. In one way that’s frustrating but in another way it’s reassuring that our differences are not that great and we are still a healthy nation. If ever we were going in the wrong direction, towards an extremist or intolerant government I would have my say, but we would probably have destroyed ourselves as a nation already if it has gotten to that point, and there would be no more “elections”.

  • Roger

    I think both political parties are the same and the only thing we get to vote on is wedge issues. They both vote for crooked international trade deals like NAFTA, the TPP, and GAT. We simply have no say. Politics is simply a rich mans game like golf. I think the only reason we have the right to vote is to prevent violent revolutions every 20 or 30 years. Otherwise, lobbyists and politicians could simply have a board meeting and determine who they want in power.

  • Open Vote

    I have a solution! Please check out my idea on Kickstarter:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/187380377/lets-reinvent-our-election-process

  • Lenore

    Never voted in my life, the bottom line is, I just don’t care who wins.
    I’m too busy with my family to worry about, or get caught up in politics.

  • Guest person

    I appreciate your article. Today is the day of the presidential election, but to me it feels like brainwashing day. Someone once said, “If voting actually changed anything, it would be made illegal.” It’s amazing to me that people forget what happened four years prior. Same thing, nothing changed. It’s still a military industrial complex that’s known in most of the rest of the world as the nation that poses the highest threat to peace.

  • Lolita Bell-Brown

    Actually, a better analogy is this: It’s pizza night. All takers has to contribute $5 for the pizzas. The group is split. Half wants cheese; the other wants pepperoni. You say, “I don’t like either pizza,” but they STILL want you to put in $5. Ummmm, WHY? I DON’T LIKE EITHER!!

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