The least significant digit of democracy

Come November 8th, if all you’ve done is vote, you’ve done the least significant thing in democracy.

It turns out that democracy is a contact sport. Voting for someone to represent you, especially in the American system of voting, constitutes little more than an affirmation of choices a long list of other people made for you.

Let’s start with the process of voting itself. It is governed by a whole host of laws and regulations you likely had nothing to do with. Someone else determined where you vote, how you vote, and if your vote counts.

And then there’s the matter of what you’re voting for. By the time you punch that chad or push that touch screen, someone else determined who would run, whose runs would get funded, who became the front-runners, and if you didn’t vote in the primary, who is on the ballot.

So, then, how much does your vote count in the face of all that?

I am not saying voting does not matter at all, because it certainly does. Voting is a basic process of democracy. But just as watering a plant is not the only thing that keeps it alive–it needs good soil, enough sunlight, the right kind of nutrients, and a host of other things–so too voting is not the only thing that makes for a successful democracy.

I grant you that one person, by themselves, will have a hard time influencing the process, but that fact makes participation more important, not less. By participating, you can band together with like-minded people, and as your group grows, your influence grows.

And with that influence, voting day becomes far more significant, because you were part of the system that determines the outcome of all the things I have mentioned and so much more.

If, therefore, you want your vote to count the most, make November 8th a beginning rather than an end. Get out there and participate in the whole process instead of just the least significant part.


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4 Responses to The least significant digit of democracy

  1. Daniel Hitzeman says:

    I’ve heard that all, too much. “My vote doesn’t count!” Then why after 240 years and 56, presidential elections in the United States do we encourage the, American citizen, over 18 to vote.
    Perhaps you’d rather have it like, Cuba had it a few years back. You would get arrested if you didn’t vote and your, vote might be for one candidate, the incumbent president.
    We have not graduated into socialism that deep, yet but if the vote (Which is compromised by the electoral college and swayed by the media and psychologically governed by fear and unrest.) was not here. Our situation would be more grave.
    And, wholly, I used to expect our nation to be filled with conscientious and concerned voters with some, intelligence and heart.
    The heartfelt public voted for James Earl Carter in the 1976, election. I was only 10 in 1976 and I knew this was a wrong move. President Carter was an unknown. A nice man to be sure and his running mate, Walter Mondale. Mondale wore, a sweat suit to a key briefing about the Iran Hostage Crisis, rescue and he asked, Colonel Anthony Beckwith, commander of the mission for a pair of handcuffs to play with during the meeting.
    Or, Vice Commander-In_Chief behaving like that at such an important, briefing.
    I doubt, Bob Dole would have done all that if it would have been him in there.
    Inflation was 1% when Gerald Ford took office from Richard Nixon. I so would have voted for Ford! A Michigander who dug playing around in the Rocky Mountains! Heck, ya! That’s when Republicans still had style. The country after, President Nixon had obviously had enough of Republicans. So when they realized, Carter screwed things up. They voted for another Republican, Ronald Reagan to fix it. He fixed it all right. He fixed our deficit to trillions of dollars.
    Even Indiana fell into a deficit and it was against our constitution to do so.
    The point, I’m trying to make with all this history is that like the saying. “You get what you pay for.”
    Eventually, you get what you VOTE for. You keep voting for schmucks. You get schmucks.
    If we could all be somewhat minimally included with our government body just a little bit every year. If we, over 18-ers could just focus on our basic leadership better than we do. Our vote would count so much more.

    • dlhitzeman says:

      I don’t think anyone’s vote counts less than anyone else’s so much as I think most people place far more value on their vote than is warranted by the rest of the process. In a way, the votes that count the most come from the people who helped decide what was being voted on, and I think every voter concentrating on that fact would change politics as we know it.

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