I Hate It Here: Using the Power of the Vote in 2012

By Will Malkus

Elm Staff Writer

Hey, it’s an election year. Whee.

Okay, here’s what’s up-I’m not going to talk about the candidates. At least, I’m going to do my damn best to keep my personal preferences just that-personal but I can’t make any promises. Sure, I have very strong beliefs about the election, but to be perfectly honest, I am neither interested in nor qualified to debate them with you. Yeah, one of us would probably be wrong (hint- it’s you,) but ultimately you should vote for whoever you want to vote for, and THAT’S the point. Vote. Just do it.

For whatever reason, our generation has this mentality that we don’t have any political responsibility. “I just give up on the system, it doesn’t work anymore,” or “I don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision,” or “I just don’t care.” I keep hearing these phrases over and over again, and it’s frustrating as hell, because how do you communicate a sense of responsibility to a person, you know? The fact of the matter is, no one is above the system. Is it flawed?

YES. Dear God, of course it is. But that’s not liable to change anytime soon, and we can wax revolutionary all we want about how the system has to change, and how bipartisanship is destroying democracy, and all that other bullshit that is almost invariably accurate (if not absolutely TRUE) but that is a very long term goal and it does not justify negligence in the here and now.

Look, I know it has never been cool for us to be patriotic in our lifetimes, but you know, in the end, I am patriotic. This country is a good place to live, and yeah, it’s a mess right now, but doesn’t call into question all the things that have always, and will alway make it great. Our country was founded on a few basics principles, and one of those principles is that there are certain rights that it is very, very uncool to deny folks.

Yes, voting in a democratic process is one of them, but it’s more than that. When I was sixteen and just discovering how to rebel, I told my grandmother that I wasn’t going to vote because I didn’t want to participate in any governmental system of a racist, warmongering, capitalist society like ours. I thought that was about the coolest thing I could’ve done, but the look she gave me stopped me cold.

“No,” she said, really quiet, like she couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. “It is your job to vote.”

And I realized she was right. If I want to live in this country, I have a responsibility to do at least a modicum of research and make an informed decision once every four years, and then go and press a button. And that’s not to say we don’t belong to a racist, warmongering, capitalist society, but it’s our racist, warmongering, capitalist society. I think that, regardless of personal opinions, we should all refuse to give up the one bit of real power we have in regards to changing things we don’t like. So I don’t care who you vote for, but no one has the right to, come voting day, sit back, blind themselves, and then gripe for the next four years about how much the president sucks. It takes roughly ten minutes to look up a presidential candidate’s personal views and policies. We spend more time than that poking each other on Facebook.

Look, if nothing else, it’s disrespectful, and I know that we’re not big on respect, but I think that enough was sacrificed to get us where we are today that we owe it to our forefathers. It’s not hard, it really isn’t, and it’s better than willfully surrendering your power. Two hundred years ago, no one thought this “constitutional republic” thing was ever going to work. Let’s prove them wrong.

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