Over many years of either being on the fringes of political activity or hip deep in the mire, I have heard many reasons from many people for why they are not going to vote in an election. There are three, “I am not going to vote” mantras I have heard most often.
Probably the most common asserted cause for not voting, particularly in a Presidential elections is the “my one vote won’t count” excuse. While as far as I can remember I have voted in every Presidential election since I was legally able to do so, sometimes this “my one vote won’t count” analysis as had some appeal. No one, not completely blinded by left wing blinders, thought George McGovern was going to become President regardless of how unsavory his opponent was. John McCain was never a serious challenge to the current incumbent in the Oval Office.
The upcoming Presidential ballot though has a unique twist. In order for the United States to regain at least some of the international respect we have lost as the template for securely functioning democracy in the face of the multiple embarrassments and lies Mr Trump has made the heart of his Presidential campaign, we need to bury him in vote totals of epic volume. Each and every vote that adds to the total vote of his defeat will be a message of hope and reassurance to those hundreds of millions of people around the world who look to the functioning of the American democratic process as part of the glide path to personal independence and political fairness for their own countries, and that America has not lost it.
It is not just the world that is listening to the appalling words of Donald Trump as the Presidential candidate of one of the two major political parties in our country. We are listening to ourselves. This Presidential election has made us wonder how it is that a man who makes it clear that he neither understands nor believes in the governmental system in which he lives managed to crawl to the place of being a candidate for President of the United States. As the campaign has progressed since the nominating conventions Mr. Trump, in large part through his own words and actions, has defined himself as not only unfit to be President, but also as someone who would be seriously dangerous as President. In order to regain some of our own lost self-respect, Mr. Trump must resoundingly lose this election. Each vote in the spread of the final vote total will count very much.
Next in the “I’m not going to vote” list of reasons is based on the polling data in the last couple of weeks of a campaign. The idea here is that if the polls show one candidate with a significant percentage lead over another, then there is no need to go to the polls because, really, the race is over. Wrong. Once again, wrong particularly in this election.
First, polls are fallible tools. A two percent margin of error in a poll means that there is a four percent range within which the poll can be statistically valid, assuming the math is correct. In a poll showing a two percent “lead” you can really have a statistical dead heat or a losing candidate, Second, people lie to pollsters. Third, people are getting more ingenious in their strategies to avoid pollsters. Fourth, creating polling questions is as much an art as a science. Polling firms, either innocently or deliberately, can write polling questions that lead respondents to an answer. Push polls do this deliberately all the time. Fifth, sampling methods for polling have not kept pace with the technological methods we use for communication these days. How many pollsters catch data from likely voters who do most or all of there communicating on twitter? What this adds up to, is that unless a poll with stated margin of error of two or three percent shows a ten percent or greater lead by one candidate, then to say that your not going to vote because the polling data shows that the race has already been decided is incorrect.
In this Presidential election, even if the polls showed a wide percentage spread between Clinton and Trump, which they don’t, voting totals will make a difference. The difference is burying Mr. Trump under so many millions of votes that he goes back to bankrupting hotel casinos and stiffing his workers and is never able to besmirch the American political process again.
The last of the reasons for “I’m not going to vote” is grounded in dislike for any of the candidates on the ballot. “I can’t stand either of these candidates so I refuse to validate them by voting for either of them” is the refrain I have heard. This is undemocratic sophistry. Unless both candidates have taken the exact same position and made the same statements on all the issues in a campaign, and have come from the same cultural background with the same cultural assumptions guiding their choices, then there is a choice to be made. I have heard this refrain quite often in this campaign and given the startlingly wide differences between the candidates positions on important decisions to be dealt with by the next President, I do not get it.
I happen to think that Secretary Clinton is a rather amazing person, whose only problem may be that she is too qualified to be President, but even if for some reason I had over the years of listening to unrelenting attacks on her, been swamped into not “liking” her, I still would have no problem voting for her. At the very least I am confident that she will not regularly embarrass me or my country with off the lip, snide or demeaning comments, or decide to use atomic weapons because someone was not nice to her.
So, if you have not voted in this election yet, go to your town office and vote now or get to the polls on November 8th. It is always important as a citizen of a democratic republic to exercise your unique right to vote, but in this election it is particularly important. Mr. Trump needs to be politically interred in a mausoleum constructed by millions of American voters.