What I wanted to say today in person

(Based on a conversation I couldn’t help but overhear today.)

Not voting is a choice… a kind of vote itself.

It’s a vote to take whatever you’re given. It’s a vote to give up one of your rights. It’s a vote to abdicate your responsibility. It’s a vote to give up permission to complain. It’s a vote to enable money and corruption. It’s a vote to say we’re not capable of better. It’s a vote to be a living, breathing stereotype of western decadence. It’s a vote to muzzle yourself, to give up your say… to give up your freedom. It’s a vote to give up hope.

It’s not something to brag about. It’s not something you can justify. It’s a choice to become part of the problem.

I don’t blame money, corruption, or intolerant values-voters for our problems as much as I blame you. The difference between a close election and a crushing landslide is sometimes as little as 15-20 percent. Look at 1984. Reagan crushed Mondale – and he did it with 59 percent of the popular vote. Granted, the popular vote doesn’t elect Presidents, the Electoral College does… but they usually correlate (in terms of who wins or loses)… and it does have a direct effect on every other election. Consider that depending on the kind of election (Presidential or mid-term), you (and people like you) represent between fifty and seventy percentage points (people who don’t vote). The next time you think you can’t make a difference, do THAT math.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at you. I can even understand a little. When you see the money involved in elections it can make you feel a little small, even powerless. When you see the corruption that’s involved politics it can make you feel discouraged, even hopeless. When you see the results of polls taken in advance of elections it can seem like a foregone conclusion, even pointless.

But unless you’ve personally been bought off, or you physically can’t get to the polls (or a mail box), you’re not powerless. As long as you’re not alone, it’s not hopeless. As long as the polls are open, it’s not pointless.

Say there’s even just 40 percent of you out there not voting. That’s enough to start a viable third party in this country. Considering the number of independents already in this country, with those kind of numbers it wouldn’t just be viable… it would be successful.

When you don’t vote you’re not letting yourself down, you’re letting all of us down.

Maybe I should have said something.

Give the gift of words.