Why Vote?

Posted by Tejus Parikh on November 3, 2008

The chances of your individual vote mattering for anything is incredibly slim. So why even bother. After all, it’s not like the candidates speak for you anyway.

That, however, is the very reason it makes sense to stand in line and cast your vote. All that follows is my un-researched and largely un-substantiated observations, so pick the appropriate dosage for your grain of salt.

It’s no secret that the crux of most campaign machines is Get Out The Vote (GOTV). GOTV is predicated on there being a group of voters that are going to vote for a candidate regardless of platform specifics. Lately, poor voter turnout has been a given, so all one needs to do is get enough of “the base” to the polls to win. Forty-five percent of registered voters in Georgia showed up to vote in this year’s primaries. Which means your senatorial candidates were chosen by less than a quarter of Georgians.

Therefore, if you think that 30% of the people in the state agree with you, you have a legitimate shot to win. You just need to get that 30% out to the polls. If you pick up just a few more voters along the way, you’ll have a landslide. If you’re a savvy candidate, you’ll drum up all the wedge issues and pull every heartstring you can find. The platform is not about ideas and problem solving, it’s about how the other guy is a “Baby-killer,” “Terrorist-cohort,” “Gunslinging-madman,” “Un-american,” “War-hawk,” “Bearer of white flags”; whatever else will get the base riled up enough to get off their couch and stand inline long enough to vote.

The side effect of disillusioning independent voters is a bonus, because it reduces the number of folks a candidate has to convince to show up. There is no reason left to appeal to any voter that is not naturally inclined to believe in you.

I think this is the heart of the divisive discourse in this country. Going and voting in numbers starts taking the discussion back. By going to the polls, you make the politicians take notice and you dilute the guaranteed blocks that each party has, which in turn will make them appeal to new ears and force them to try new ideas. So if you read this blog and weren’t planning on voting, I hope you reconsider. It’s not just civic duty or a moral code at stake. It’s about forcing the candidates to understand that there is an America beyond what shows up at their rallies and in their campaign headquarters.

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Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: