Political Efficacy

This past week, I was struck by an online discussion on the choice to (or not to) vote. It began with fellow classmates’ blog postings surrounding the United States general election of 2012. Coming from a family that is self-proclaimed patriotic, voting is not a right it is a privilege. The only time I have chosen not to vote since I have been eligible and registered was for a school bond levy. Not having children of my own nor younger siblings that could be directly affected, I decided not to side with either side.

The right to vote has been the cornerstone of American exceptionalism since its founding but what is truly remarkable is that for over 225 years, the right to abstain from voting has been equally profound though not as popular to espouse. This leads me to ask some important questions–Why vote? And, how does social media impact American electoral tradition?

My peer, Aja wrote a very honest blog stating:

I voted yesterday for the first time in my life. . . Before that I was caught in a voting no man’s land: unable to meet the residency requirements for voting in my home country but also forbidden from voting here, in my adopted country.

I am proud of your decision to vote!

In stark contrast, as Aja points out, our classmate, Keegan has different feelings on election day in a equally honest and open post:

I refuse to believe that my vote is my voice. . .  my voice is so much bigger than a “Yes” or a “No,” or a check on a ballot. And I will not be limited in the ways I use it. The election process is itself coercive, tricking people into taking part in this nationalistic ritual, and holding it up as this shining privilege–when in reality there is no choice being made except the choices already deemed acceptable to be chosen. . .

As a voter, I completely agree that my voice is bigger than a simple check on a ballot but where I differ is that in addition to other platforms for political engagement, voting is possibly the most important aspect. It is for the sake of having the right to vote that all our other rights have personal and corporate power to change lives. It is for the sake of having the right to vote that the right not to vote has any weight at all. I respect Keegan for her conviction and her honesty. Engaging in conversation about our country and our rights as citizens is a wonderful thing. As long as I believe that the United States of America is the “hope of liberty throughout the world,” as famously stated by President James Madison, I will vote and encourage others to do the same.

Where do you stand? Let me know in the comments if you voted or if you think your vote matters. I also suggest browsing  this article from the Huffing and Puffington Post on the importance and significance of voting.

More on the topic of voting and elections tomorrow.

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