2.23.2008

Your Vote is Your Voice


I've heard this phrase numerous times in many incarnations over the years. Voice yourself by voting, your vote is your voice, let your voice be heard - vote, and so on and so forth. The slogan and the concept is catchy to be certain. It is also, however, discouraging.

It implies that the act of voting is the only way to voice your concerns, your wants and your ideas for this nation. Of course most people do know that you can write your representatives, and even the president should you feel the need, but how many of you have tried this tactic, and just how successful were you? The average citizen will receive an automated reply, a form letter thanking them for taking the time to "voice" their concerns with absolutely no guarantee that their opinion was even read, let alone heard or considered.

So it would be reasonable to presume that voting, the act of electing a representative whose policies closely resemble your own views, really is the best way to let yourself be heard on issues that are important to you. After all, you're electing an extension of yourself, only with more experience, yes?

Or is it?

First the question needs to be asked, does your vote actually count? In local elections, this answer is simple. Winner takes all is the basic premise, dependent on state law, of course. So yes, your vote actually counts. Just as soon as you step it up to the federal level however, things get a little bit strange. In primaries and caucuses, we elect individuals for the position of presidential candidate by way of delegates. In a primary, the delegates take the place of the Electoral College, as it were, and cast the appropriate vote for the candidate in their respective parties based not on the popular vote, but by percentages in counties and cities, as a way to create a fair representation of what each state as whole wants, rather than what the majority of voters want.

This was a practice devised to help smaller counties sway elections. See, if the majority of people live in one area or county of a state (or as in the practice of the Electoral college, very large states) vote one way, for one candidate, that has promised to help them, but not the smaller counties or areas you get a tipped scale of representation. The notion was to create a way to elect a leader based on who would be best for the entire nation (or state) rather than just the majority of the populace in concentrated areas. Or, it's a plan that is supposed to keep the minority safe from the tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately, it isn't working correctly anymore.

Add in the super-delegates and things get even more complicated. Regular delegates are pledged voters, who are responsible and bound to vote for the candidate the constituents have selected, within the frame work of the percentage rules. The super-delegates, however have no such commitment to the people and can vote any way they wish.

Suffice it to say, that even if your favorite candidate gets the majority of the votes he or she may not in fact, end up being the candidate who runs for the presidency.

So just how much weight does your vote actually carry? Not much, to be truthful. Your vote will never have the kind of weight that tips an election one way or another. The idea that even one vote can make a difference is a farce, an illusion to make Americans believe that they are being heard, individually, and so have no further need to bother the government with their pesky requests.

After all, they did vote, and the vote is their voice, right?

To make matters worse, it has become much harder to vote in recent years. It isn't that citizens need to pass tests or that voting has stipulations per se, only that the actual process, from registering to voting according the laws has become rather complicated. First, and this has been major complaint of voters, is that not everyone who has registered is allowed to vote come election day because their information wasn't processed by the specified time according to the law. This, mostly by no fault of the voter, is the reason many voters are turned away during elections.

Registering to vote through the DMV, or social services via the state can wait such long periods of time before turning in their paperwork, that the voters aren't put into the system until it's too late. Going into your town hall is the best bet, to ensure your registration is processed. Even then, human error sometimes permits voters to slip through the cracks anyway.

Then there is the issue of party affiliation, and voting rights. Some states require that the voter be affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat party before being allowed to vote in federal primaries. Ergo, a huge percentage of voters who have no desire to be a part of either party are turned away come election day.

How can we possibly claim to voice our opinions through our votes, and elect the best representative for the position if we continually turn voters away in large numbers?

No wonder voter apathy exists.

Back to the moral of the story however, and that is American complacency. If we truly feel that voting is the best or only way to have our voices heard, even though our voices are not being properly heard in the voting booths, or in the offices once the representative has been elected, what does that say about us?

Have we become so apathetic that we refuse to take it any farther than that? Are we so submissive to our government that we actually buy into the hype that Voting is Our Voice, and all that it implies?

Voting is clearly not an accurate representation of our collective voices, not during the elections, and particularly not after. Is it but a whisper. We need to roar if we wish to be heard. We need to actually use our voices, and not simper away after being compartmentalized into neatly lined voting booths, and discharged as quickly as we were ushered into them, fully fooling ourselves that we have now "been heard".

15 comments:

AmmoBob said...

Ok, what kind of hell is going to brake lose if Clinton is able to steel the Super delegates and seal the nomination?

ROTUS said...

You have made some good points but if you don't vote you have NO VOICE AT ALL!

Anok said...

AmmoBob - I think that there will be some upstart about her, and her husband stealing or coercing the votes and - whats worse and probably truer - the fact that the votes of the super delegates won't reflect the popular vote. Of course, if she gets the nomination I feel that McCain will have a better chance of winning the presidency and/or it won't matter all that much who gets in, because I think Clinton is pulling much too far to the right for my personal tastes....

I don't think hell break loose though. Perhaps the prescription for Pepcid will increase...!

Rotus - Yes, I agree. That is something we shall have to remedy!

zenpen said...

Their is Revolution... And their is bloodless revolution. Voting is bloodless revolution.
So Vote

kdawg68 said...

Ah yes, the confines of representative democracy. You must vote, but I agree that your single vote doesn't carry a shred of weight with it.

Dave Dubya said...

Then there are the even more representative "hidden votes".

Every time a smoker buys a pack he is giving Big Tobacco more money to pass on to Republicans. Every time you fuel up a gas guzzling vehicle you provide more money and power to the oil cartels. The same goes for all that mega-corporate food industries and big box stores.

Buy local foods. Conserve gas. Buy Citgo. Don't smoke. Remember those "votes" add up against us as much those idiots voting out of fear and ignorance.

Anok said...

ZenPen, it isn't necessarily about revolution - but rather the bought and sold ideology that our only way to voice our opinions and concerns is through voting. That notion, which has been sold to us for generations in a variety of subtle ways hidden in marketing techniques has devalued our participation in the democratic process to the simple push of a button, or click of a lever in a booth, once every four years or so.

This is a disingenuous way of creating a docile public, an obedient public, a public that dares not to voice real complaints, ideas, or encourage progress.

We see, we complain, we vote and figure thats all we can do - not so! We can do more...it will just take effort, and it need not be bloody at all.

Kdawg, as you already know (have you caught up on your reading yet?) I feel that our current country can no longer function in the style of democracy that we once had. Ergo, changes must be made, and the confines must be broken!

Dave Dubya - excellent points. I had forgotten the power of the lobbyists and corporations in the voting process. Thanks for the reminder, I will stew on that one for a bit ;)

an average patriot said...

Anok
I will always vote not because it counts but because I hope someday it will. our vote right now seems to be increasingly taken out of our control. Telling you to vote, your vote matters is only a facade to keep this dictatorship they call a Democracy going.

Anok said...

Jim, you're awesome. We really do need to go to lunch one day. Could you imagine us two crazy folks chowing on burgers and talking politics?! Holy Cow!

No pun intended.

an average patriot said...

Anok
you're a riot! Of course we will get together to talke sometime. I have to warn you, you can shut me off here but my sons just laugh at me because once I get going I don't shut up. one leaves for Iraq in a few days and one will be here inj a few days before he goes to Iraq. I'm glad he's my son, he'd kick my ass!
Meeting with you would be disappointing because I would feel short changed. Hell if you guys came here and spent the night it still wouldn't be long enough!

Anok said...

S'alright...my husband is the same way. I have that wifely ability to tune out when I need to....

I am so glad to hear one of your boys is coming home....and sad to hear that one is leaving. Damn, can't they coordinate or something?

Will the one coming home be staying home?

an average patriot said...

Hi Anok!
For some reason am a bit different. I prefer to know people including my sons are fine but I have things to do and would rather not be bothered.
My sons happen to be my best friends too! The two in the military are total opposites. Joe needs to be treated special and as a fly boy he is and is where he should be. Jim is a hard core jobber like his Father.
The three oldest Love each other but don't stay in touch much. They are another long subject.I would like to see Jim and Joe meet in Iraq but I don't see that happening. I am also not sure where Jim will be staying while he is home but I don't think it will be here.

Daniel Owen said...

Your vote is your voice -- if you have a weak, whiny voice that never does anything but piss and moan and wish things were better and life was fairer.

It ain't fair.

Power means blood, sweat and tears.

Anok said...

Daniel...yes I agree, to an extent. A vote, if it actually counted for something, can be a powerful thing. Of course, right now, it really isn't.

Good to see you thou! I've been meaning to reply to your e mail, which I just received, because it went into my spam folder for some reason! Lets just say, yes, you and I agree on a great many things ;)

Daniel Owen said...

I hope you get top political blog at blogger's choice awards, anok!