Hey Young People! Voting Is [Not] The Most Important Thing You Can Do.

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Only 1/3 of eligible millennial voters are considering voting according to the latest poll of 1,881 of them (0.000024% of the total number of millennials in America) [1]. Try pretending to be shocked.

Fraternity and sorority professionals and fraternities and sororities themselves are encouraging their followers to vote. Good on them, voting is power and stuff. That being said, politicians saying that voting is the most important thing one can do is about as cliché as saying that this election is the “most important of our lifetime.” We get it, you guys are super important and super serious and need to win.

Here are some things to consider about your vote and the political process in general. Sure these are my opinions. . . but this is my website :).

1. Your Vote Is Your Vote

It is your right as a citizen to be able to formally express your opinion of who is in the best position to lead your local governments, state government, and federal government.

Any talk that a “vote for ____ is a vote for ____” is just a selfish human trying to guilt you into placing their beliefs above your own. If you want to write in, “Lindsay Lohan,” for every ballot line, then fricking do it!

2. Imagine That You Are A Part Of A Hiring Committee

It might be hard to believe with all the fantasy polls and ESPN-style graphics on the “news” showing which party will have control over which chambers, but elections are not actually a sport; they are a hiring process.

If a politician is working to “win” your vote by slandering his or her opponent, then they are not seeking to represent you – they are seeking to beat the other team. Why would you hire someone who acts so childish?

3. Candidate Suppression Is More Well-Documented Than Voter Suppression or Fraud

More than 80% of registered voters in the U.S. vote, but only 55% of the eligible voting population votes. [2]

When you compare the U.S. to the other nations on that cited list; however, take note that those other governments operate as multi-party systems with a variety of candidates representing a variety of interests and, get this, overlapping platforms! [3]. Perhaps hundreds of millions of people just do not fit into two completely opposite political categories. . . 

Candidate Suppression: States across the U.S. have implemented laws which make it tougher for independent candidates or candidates from parties not named “Democrat” or “Republican” from gaining ballot access. [4][5]

In states where those candidates do gain ballot access, they are prevented from taking part in debates [6], receive effectively zero media coverage [7], and/or are excluded from polls [8]. Why vote when you are repeatedly mislead to believe that a person who might represent what you believe and who is on the ballot as a candidate is not a real choice?

4. If You Want To Be Informed, Avoid News Entertainment

The professional teleprompter readers on t.v. are not your friends, they work for for-profit organizations which create drama and conflama around the news to boost viewership, listenership, click, and the resulting ad revenue.

I find it strange that my friends and politicians who complain that there’s too much money or corporate interests in politics never seem to complain that for-profit news corporations endorse candidates, give them billions of dollars worth of content for free, and blatantly ignore other qualified candidates.

ex. Donald Trump underspent almost all of his competitors in the 2016 election cycle – he didn’t even set up a superPAC. He just said what he needed to say to get billions of dollars worth of free airtime or front-page real estate on the news. (Even if the coverage was negative, anyone who knows how Google/Facebook/Twitter algorithms work knows that nothing fires up a base like a verbal assault on its leader.)

It’s cool to have opinions, but it doesn’t make sense from the perspective of a voter to care so much about strangers profit-driven opinions – as difficult as ignoring them might be.

5. Yes, There ARE More Impactful Things Than Voting

  • Run for office: In most cases you’ll get paid when you get the job, and the existing blue team/red team candidates are apparently unappealing to 1/2 of America’s eligible voters. . . so you’ve got something to work with. (ex. I didn’t like the options I was given for my fraternity’s Grand Council so I ran.)
  • Be a service to your community:  YOU are powerful. Do work you believe in, volunteer, help your family, stand up for someone being bullied, and be the change you wish to see – but for real. It is nonsensical to suggest that 400 people in Washington D.C. will ever make decisions perfectly fit for the 300,000,000+ people they represent.
  • Assist a candidate you believe in: Help someone you believe in get on a ballot. Work to convince a friend to run for office. Focus on local and state governments – they are less costly, often “non-partisan,” and you can create a base to support a national campaign.

How Can You Be Informed?

You can’t – no one can be truly informed, think of how many candidates we turn on when their skeletons come out of the closet. But here is a guide to voting with a level head and making the decision that’s right for you:

  • Determine what you want from government by researching political theories. No theory is perfect, because humans are imperfect, but you will probably find one you think makes sense. Consider the “criticisms” in your decision-making process.
  • Realize that no one is as perfect as their Instagram. Every politician, every news anchor, and every one of your happy friends will eventually suffer from diarrhea. No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection of a politician. That is just a way to dissuade human people like you from running for office. 
  • Recognize that you have a right to keep your vote secret. It can be comforting to know that you do not owe anyone any information regarding which candidates you support or if you voted at all.
  • When listening to someone else’s opinion, remember that they are not perfect, that they may not make great decisions just because you like them, and their their opinion is ultimately none of your business unless you ask to hear them. Even then, see #3 – they don’t have to share opinions with you just because you have asked.
  • Ask yourself if you might be wrong once or twice a year. Online debates are silly and rarely work, and most people just act like arse-faces. The best way to help yourself be open-minded is to actually question whether or not your belief system is flawed. You might not change your mind, but it will help you remember that nothing and no one is perfect.

Go ahead and vote. . . just know that your options as a citizen are only as limited as you allow them to be.