Forget “Get out the vote”; if you don’t care, don’t vote

Popular wisdom seems to suggest that “democracy” in this country is somehow assisted when more of the population robotically get themselves to the voting booths each election cycle and pull the lever for [generally] one of two political parties.  The more people who vote, they say, the better off our country will be.

But that’s fundamentally wrong on virtually every level.  Encouraging more people to vote – for the sake of increasing voting numbers – contributes nothing positive to this nation or our way of government.  In fact, I would argue that it is downright harmful.

People who are informed enough about the current state of our nation and our system of government do not require convincing when it comes to making their voices heard through our electoral process.  When people care, votes naturally follow.  In the absence of a genuine desire to participate in our voting system, all that is left is a breathing carbon-based entity who’s vote is no more meaningful than that of a monkey’s.

I hold no innate ill will towards those who choose not to exercise their right to vote.  In fact, I personally respect the notion of not swaying the results of the election by placing an ill-informed vote for a politician of any party.  If you cannot be bothered to pay attention, that is fine, to each their own.

But, when those people are encouraged to vote under the presumed nonsensical guise that somehow an uninformed vote helps our Republic flourish, it directly effects our nation’s future and helps support the idea that voting is an act that need not be taken seriously.  Just vote for somebody, right?.  This turns our electoral process into a mockery.

Want to help improve our nation’s future?  Forget voting.  Instead, focus on getting more people to actually care about the future of their children, their grandchildren and our nation.  Easier said than done, no doubt.  Convincing people to put down their game console remotes, or unbury their faces from their cell phones long enough to observe their environment and reflect on how our government influences their lives, is a monumental undertaking.  But, it’s one that needs to be taken, for this is how true reform is achieved.  Throwing votes around does nothing.  Paying attention to our government, however, contributes to something real.

Let’s start a “Put your phone down and pay attention” initiative instead.  Focus on providing the resources and incentives necessary to build a more informed population first before approaching the issue of voting.  Once we have an informed populace, I can guarantee you that an increase in voter turnout will follow soon after.  We will get that for free.