“Oh, I won’t bother. My vote won’t change anything.”
This is the attitude shared by many voters, young and old, disillusioned by our often frustrating political process. And, unfortunately, it’s shared and even promoted by some among the intellectual elite.
This past weekend, the Institute for Humane Studies held a Weekend Exploring Liberty seminar at my college campus. Though I don’t share the organization’s decidedly libertarian leanings, I attended anyway. One of my favorite professors had set it up, and, after all, libertarianism is often as close as you can get to conservatism in Austin. The seminar was mostly interesting and informative, but I just about lost it when one of the lecturers discussed the belief that whether we vote or not doesn’t really matter, because we can’t change the outcome.
On the surface, this is true. Especially in presidential elections, one vote in the grand scheme of things might not make much of a difference. But it’s what individual votes can do together that matters.
Think of the 2008 elections, when Barack Obama energized the progressive youth and minority votes like few had before. What if all of them woke up on election day, sighed at the existential pointlessness of voting, rolled over, and went back to bed? And what if in this next election, perhaps the most important my generation will face, all the conservatives gave up and let Barack Obama have another four years in the White House?
And there have been instances when just one vote mattered. Here in Texas two years ago, a State House seat was lost by just four people deciding their “one vote” didn’t matter.
The voting population is small enough already. If no one exercised this crucial right, there would be no representative democracy at all.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Voting is a big privilege and a big responsibility. But it’s up to you – will you take it on?
I know I will. See you at the polls.