I don’t vote. Never have, in fact.
My reasoning is fairly simple and best put by the great American philosopher George Dennis Patrick Carlin: “If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.”
I’m not interested in personally lending legitimacy to the clown show of American politics. I’ll try anything once except for meth and voting.
My vote also literally doesn’t matter. I live in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States. I’m vastly outnumbered by people who can’t read at age-appropriate levels, can’t find their own city on a map and couldn’t name the three branches of government.
So, no, I didn’t vote in this past primary election. Neither did most people, apparently, despite being mailed a ballot. It couldn’t be easier to vote, but most people didn’t and they all have my respect.
I certainly respect non-voters more than any sad, cautionary tale about the failure of the California education system who went out of their way in this short life to vote for Tony Thurmond, that’s for sure.
Non-voters who don’t care about politics because they have a life to live are more respectable than the ostensibly civic-minded person who looked at the ballot and thought, “You know who we need to keep in office? Ricardo Lara.”
In California, especially, everyone knows the outcome of the statewide races. All of them. All. Of. Them. The Democrats will win them all. I could lie and say I think Lanhee Chen has a real shot of winning in November, but he won’t, because most California voters vote by party and he’s in the wrong one.
Instead of cutting a check to California Republicans in statewide races, who will lose, all of them, every single one of them, you would be better off giving me that money. But please don’t send any money to the California Republican Party, or one of the many grifters who promise to deliver conservative victories in California. You might as well fork over your money to a Nigerian prince scam.
Some congressional races are vaguely interesting and competitive, but, then again, that depends on where you live and even then they’re only interesting to the handful of people in a district who even know who their representative is. Most congresscritters and aspiring congresscritters are just consultant-crafted bores who can only regurgitate canned lines. And most are in super-safe districts, so those elections don’t really matter, either.
Locally, elections are usually even less compelling. Who has the time to care about who the city clerk is? Who, besides a political operative, wakes up motivated to see to it that so-and-so is the next county supervisor in district wherever?
Elections tend to only get interesting when politicians really, really screw things up or are perceived as really, really screwing things up (see: Chesa Boudin and the San Francisco school board). But those are rare moments.
Besides most races being uncompetitive and uninteresting, people are rightly numb to politicians with slick campaigns overpromising things. People understandably feel disconnected from politics, because they always end up feeling scammed and forced to choose between a pile of trash or a pile of garbage.
In this context, if they don’t vote, that’s a totally defensible course of action.
You don’t need to participate. It sends a powerful message to the egomaniacs in government when most people don’t care about them.
Civilization will go on with or or without your vote. And if governments implode due to a lack of participation, well, that’s not your fault. That’s the fault of the politicians and the people who voted for them.
Sal Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org