GO VOTE… or don’t

By Amanda King

Voices Editor

On March 3, several states held primary elections for the 2020 presidential candidates.

And if you have an account on any social media platform at all, you were probably exposed to several posts encouraging you to “go vote!”

Even if you didn’t check Instagram or Snapchat on Tuesday, you likely encountered a person or two who excitedly told you to go exercise your civic duty.

But whether or not you chose to “go vote!” or fulfill your “duty” in this primary election, is a decision that should be entirely up to you.

It’s astounding how American’s can base all political arguments around the exclusive freedoms that U.S. citizens have and the necessity of preserving them — while at the same time, shaming you for choosing to exercise them.

There is no shortage of people who feel it is not only their “civic duty” to vote, but also to degrade people who choose not to.

According to civics-online.org, “exercising the right to vote is essential to being a good citizen,” and “failure to vote constitutes implied consent to governance by incumbent public officeholders.”

Or as PsychologyToday.com puts it, you must use this “right that future generations might envy you for having had.”

FEW.org, also known as the Federally Employed Women, asserts that “we cannot afford for you to stay silent.”

What such organizations don’t understand is that these statements are absolutely ludicrous.

You are not a criminal if you don’t vote. You will not eliminate future American’s voting rights by not voting. You will not bring about the apocalypse if you don’t vote.

Moreover, you do not lose the ability to agree or disagree with policies if you don’t vote. Not voting on a particular issue does not negate your ability to un-hypocritically vocalize your opinion of the government.

Your rights are your rights.

Your right to vote is just that — your right.

What is the logic here? You have the right so you must use it?

You think about how your vote really only helps pick state delegates, or you don’t think you’re informed enough about the candidates, or, hey, maybe you just don’t want to be involved in politics in any capacity at all — whatever your reasoning, if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you can’t be a good citizen? You’re putting the rights of future generations in danger? You’re hurting other people?

Listen, if there is some cause or some issue or any reason that you want to exercise your right to vote — go for it!

The content of a voting ballot is not limited to presidential elections; you might want to raise your voice for innumerable other matters that are up for debate. So if you want to, vote. Your decision to do so is yours, and yours alone.

But, just the same, your decision not to vote is equally as righteous.

It is your decision. You shouldn’t be disgraced because you either don’t have reason or simply do not want to vote. You should not be forced to endure public debasement and derogatory remarks.

You have the right to exercise or not exercise your rights as you see fit.

Sure, you have the right to bear arms — but if you choose not to, does that mean gun owners should shame you into buying one? If you choose not to buy a gun, does that give people who choose to own weapons the right to admonish you for not “fulfilling your obligation” to own a firearm?

The very definition of “rights,” as per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, constitutes the “power or privilege to which one is justly entitled.” The right to vote is yours, you are entitled to it. But that doesn’t mean you are required to exert it.

But, ah, entitlement. That’s where the problem lies for “vote-shamers,” as USA Today calls them. The right to vote is a privilege that you are luckily afforded in America.

Ignore that oxymoron for a second, and just consider the idea behind it: Because you have this unique privilege, it is vital that you use it since not everyone has that ability.

This rationale is especially exploited if you’re an ethnic minority or a woman, and arguments are constantly recycled to make you feel guilty for not taking advantage of the rights your ancestors fought for.

Moreover, how many other countries have conditions where only particular subsets of people are allowed to vote? Or, what about countries that don’t allow voting at all?

So how dare you not use the privilege you are afforded here in America when others aren’t so lucky?

This entire philosophy is inherently flawed, because it contradicts the very rights that you are shamed for not exercising.

Exercise your right to vote the way you want to — whether you rush to be first in line at your polling location or decide to wait out the registration deadline.

You should be thankful that you have the right to vote. You should be grateful for the rights you are afforded in this country that others aren’t so fortunate to have. But that doesn’t mean that people should shame you for exercising those same rights — by not voting.

And when the presidential election comes up, and everyone you encounter in person or online tells you to exercise your “civic duty,” remind yourself that it is okay to exercise your voting rights in whichever way you choose.

The right to vote is just that — a right. Not an obligation.

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