Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Your right and your obligation

Did you know the word "idiot" comes from idiōtēs, a term the ancient Athenians used to deride a person who didn't take part in public affairs?
I'm amazed by the number of people who spend hundreds of dollars a year on lotteries at odds of 100,000,000+:1 against, yet won't take an hour out of their day to drop their votes (for free!) for a political candidate they like because "s/he has no chance of winning" and "my vote won't count".

Last night's Iowa caucus showed the difference just a handful of people can make — eight votes between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Ron Paul trailing them by a mere 3,788, in one of the most nail-biting finishes seen in American politics.  Santorum has every right to be pleased with his strong placement.  Yet I know in my heart that there are people who, regardless of whom the GOP candidate turns out to be, will sit the election out because "my vote won't count".

My dad (God be good to him) had only one thing to say about elections: "If you don't vote, you don't have a right to bitch about the government."  Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit: "He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able, is taken to agree."  Your vote is your voice; it's the most effective thing you will say to any politician.  To not cast it in any direction is to consent by default to whomever the rest of the people elect.

You have a much better chance of getting the people you want in office than you do of winning the lottery, and it won't cost you a dime you haven't spent already.  You rationalize that lottery ticket by telling yourself, "You can't win if you don't play."  Well, it's just as true with elections.  Don't let the media and the pollsters tell you who's going to win — that's your decision to make!  Figure out what issues are important to you and where you stand on them; find the candidates that best support your stances; then when you get the chance to vote, take the bloody time to do it!  In short: