Friday, November 02, 2012

Fine, Don't Vote. But If You Don't Vote, Don't Whine

  •  My vote doesn't make a difference.
  •  It doesn't matter who wins. They're all the same.
  •  My candidate definitely will / won't win so why bother.
  •  I'm a conscientious objector to our democratic process.
  •  The lines are too long.

Yep, I've heard just about every excuse in the book for not voting.  And, frankly, I'm fine with all of them.  It's your choice. But if you choose not to participate in voting, you choose not to be effective in the rest of the process.  Think of voting as just one tool in the "effective influencer's" toolbox (which also includes citizen advocacy, lobbying, protests and, yes, even financial support for a candidate).

That said, those who vote wield far more power than that which comes from a simple hammer or nail.  President Lincoln had it right when he described ours as a government "... of the people, by the people and for the people."  "Of," means citizens make the choices through voting. "By" means those elected are chosen from among the citizenry.  And "for" means the choices elected leaders make should be in the best interests of "the people."  You'll notice Lincoln didn't say of, by and/or for the people.  Democracy is a package deal.

Certainly many, many, many people believe that elected officials aren't living up to the "for the people” part of the bargain.  I’m not ever going to convince a hardened political cynic that’s not true.  However, I continue to be mystified that the response to that for so many people is to abandon their responsibility on the “of the people” side of things.  What’s the alternative?  Government “at” the people?  We see a lot of that in the world and it’s not working out so well.    

That said, if you don’t want to vote, then don’t.  But later, please don't contact your elected officials or the President with any of the following messages:

  • I can't believe you didn't fund my favorite government program
  • I can't believe you continued funding that stupid program
  • I can't believe you're going to impose this tax
  • I can't believe you aren't going to extend this tax cut
  •     ... or whatever policy or funding issue you’re outraged about

Personally, I think we'll have a stronger and more responsive system of government if we all participate.  Not voting sends the signal that we really don't care how things turn out.  And maybe you don't.  But if that’s your perspective, than really don’t care -- even when things aren’t going your way.

***For more tips and strategies after the election, sign up for our FREE webinar, "Winning, No Matter Who Wins" on Thursday, November 15. More information here.

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