Please Don’t Vote

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: one of the neatest features about the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is its willingness to give ordinary citizens space on its Op-Ed page. This generosity has led to some surprising, informative, and entertaining pieces. This one, by Neal Starkman, is amusing while making some very good points that bear thinking about.

I would like to urge some of you not to vote. You know who you are: You really don’t know much about the politicians or the issues but feel an obligation to choose one or the other. Or you’ve decided how you’re going to vote, but you’ve used rather — how shall I put this? — unsophisticated rationales for your decisions. “He stands for strength.” “She has a really nice smile.” “I haven’t heard anything about that initiative, so it must not be any good.” “God guided me.”No, voting isn’t for everyone, and I really think it’s better if some of you sit this one out. Be proud of your spectator status. Don’t be misled by otherwise well-meaning people who give voice to the following platitudes:

It’s your patriotic duty to vote. No, actually it isn’t. It may be your patriotic duty to be an informed voter, but that’s different from merely voting. Are you going to tell me that the world was a better place because in 1933 Germans exercised their patriotic duty to vote for Adolf Hitler? It’s not voting that makes the world safer; it’s whom and what we vote for.

It’s what democracy is all about. Democracy isn’t about voting; it’s about having the right to vote. Big difference. I would never say that you, you, or you shouldn’t have the right to vote. You have every right; you should just recognize when to exercise that right and when not to.

You know, come to think of it, there are a few people I’d like to urge not to vote, too….

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