Every two to four years we have government elections and every two to four years I wonder the same thing, “Does my vote matter?” In California, we have two Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman (R) and Jerry Brown (D) who have the most vicious attack ads I’ve ever seen. Their ads make them BOTH sound unappealing, which makes common citizens like me depressed that no change will come.
I have to think there are attack ads in almost every city in America which is resulting in the same voter ambivalence. Am I wrong? You tell me. Every single politician says the same thing:
* I plan to change the way the Capital is run. No more politics as usual.
* I plan to balance the budget.
* I am qualified because of my experience in politics, or my experience in business.
* My opponent is unqualified.
* I answer to no one but you.
* Wonk, wonk, blah, blah, schimmy, schimmy, bang, bang.
Really? Come on. You and I know that politicians can’t please everyone and often times lie through their teeth. They can say they will cut taxes, but there’s no way that they will say exactly where they will cut spending. They say that they answer to no one, but we all know that the Unions, lobbyists, and other interest groups have them in their back pockets. It’s sad, because it sure feels like my vote doesn’t matter.
YOU KNOW IT
Math doesn’t lie. If you must know, there’s been a steadily declining turnout in voters for decades. The average hovers around 50% for Presidential elections, which of course we have no power over due to the Electoral College system. For local elections, the turnout is often times only 25-30%. The reasons for a lack of turnout are as follows:
* The government has become so big that nobody believes they can fight the Borg.
* Trust among politicians is in a structurally permanent decline due to over-promises.
* People feel they are too busy and are too lazy.
* Attack ads make everybody depressed.
* People are afraid that if they vote they will get spam and unwanted solicitations. There’s even a fear that once you register to vote, the omniscient government can spy on your every move.
* There are too many candidates and issues to vote on, so people decide to vote on none.
* Officials don’t make it easy to register to vote. Why do we have to register separately in the first place?
* People believe that other people are rational and will vote for the right candidate.
As someone who believes everything rational, it’s easy to argue that if things are so bad, and if people care enough, they’ll go out and vote for improvement. As such, why bother voting if things aren’t really bothering you enough? And if things are, well, others are likely bothered enough to go vote, so let them go do all the legwork! It’s just like a thread on car problems, only those with enough bad experiences and angst post. Sooner or later, the car manufacturer will do an upgrade, or else face losing its precious customers.
On the flip side, one can argue that since only 50% or less turn out to vote, your vote carries twice or more the weight of a usual vote, and you have an opportunity to really make a difference. Too bad numbers don’t support this thesis.
SOLUTIONS TO INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT
* Make it a law that everyone must vote. If you don’t vote, you have to pay a fine or go streaking.
* Make it a law that everyone must study the 200 page voter guide every two years and get a 50% or better passing rate or else pay a fine or go streaking.
* Lower taxes.
* Make voting easier by allowing people to just walk up to a booth, write down all their information for registration and vote.
* Create a website that lists all the people who haven’t voted & make them go streaking.
* Make it a law for ad campaigns to tell the truth and not bend truths or else get fined or taken off the air.
* Make it clear that if you vote, you will not be put on some government watch-list, like the one you’re on right now by the IRS.
I feel it in my gut that voting is a good thing because our country is based on democracy and freedom. Thousands of people have died to defend our principles and rights. Hence, to not vote feels like we are dishonoring their legacy. Unfortunately, I still don’t believe my vote matters that much. How sad.
Despite the fact that Republicans have taken control of Congress, the Democrats still control the Senate and the Presidency. Therefore, nothing really changes. Back to the same old stuff!
Subscribe to the Financial Samurai newsletter by clicking here.
PS Remember, if you are one of the 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes, please have mercy on those who do pay taxes by not voting on someone who wants to raise our taxes further. Really appreciate it! Thanks!