2008 ElectionOpinion and Editorial

The Right Not To

By Tali Zangari

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to deter you from voting if you care about politics or even if you just want to vote.  I am proud to be part of a country that allows us and encourages us to vote for our leaders.  I am proud of the people who work hard on the campaigns and of the people who work hard for their parties. I am not one of those people.  It is ok if you aren’t either.


Many Americans are looking forward to Election Day.  I feel like many are also dreading it.  I simply can’t wait for people to stop badgering me about voting for Obama or McCain.  I suppose that I should come right out and say this.  I am not voting.  I feel that the entire business of politics has become so diluted with parties and party alliances that the real issues have been lost.   It isn’t that I don’t care about who will run our country; it’s just that I am nowhere near qualified to decide that.  I don’t know, and surely, I am not the only American in this situation.  I am exercising my rights, especially the one not to vote.


When I told people in  the past that I won’t be voting, I got many responses.  The most common was, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just vote!” This has never made any sense to me.  If it doesn’t matter who you vote for, then why bother voting? I never thought that one should vote merely for the sake of voting. Instead, I always thought that voting should be reserved for the people who do care and who do have a strong feeling about their candidate.


Another reason why many vote is simply party alliances.  One Democrat was talking to me about voting, and he said to vote for Obama, because the Republicans believe in torture.  He had this idea because while a Republican was in office, prisoners were tortured, and while according to him the administration during that time did nothing to stop it, he never gave any evidence that supports his idea that all Republicans believe in the same thing.  In fact, many people will say that the reason they will vote for McCain or Obama is because of their party, not necessarily because of their views on issues.


One of the biggest reasons not to vote is out of respect for the people who are voting.  Allow me to clarify. If one person is extremely passionate about politics and worked hard to become well-informed, and another person who doesn’t care just voted for the sake of voting, and they voted for opposite candidates, the person who doesn’t care cancelled the vote of the person who does, in effect.  Since I respect the people who are informed, I am not going to insult them by cancelling one of their votes simply for the sake of voting.


I am not qualified to decide who leads the country, and the beauty of America is that you don’t have to be qualified to vote.  You just have to be registered.  In all honesty, I don’t care who wins the election, but not because I don’t care who leads us.  I feel like both candidates are equally qualified, perhaps in different areas, and that there would not be a major difference regardless of who wins.  There is no candidate that I am passionate about, and therefore feel it isn’t right for me to vote for one.  Although I do feel that the war, abortion rights, revising No Child Left Behind and working out the state of the economy are all important, I don’t think that either candidate for the presidency will be drastically different from the other, and I have full confidence in both of them.


If you do not care about politics, or you simply do not want to vote, then you do not have to.  It is acceptable.  There are some stipulations.  One of the biggest stipulations is that if you do not vote, then you cannot complain about the winner of the election, or any decisions they make.  Exercising the right not to vote is also exercising the right to take whatever you get.  It is risky.   Another problem is that you will get a lot of flak from people who want everyone to vote, and these people are trying to protect the right that you have to have your voice heard.  For me, not voting is a personal choice.  I think that the country’s leaders have all done a better job than I could, and that all of the candidates are qualified.   I made a conscious decision to stay out of politics because it has become a twisted business.  Instead of protecting the people’s best interests, politics has become a system of party alliances, lobbyists, shady dealings and broken promises.  Once all of that has changed, then I will be involved, but until then, I cannot be entirely passionate about anyone involved in that business, and if you’re not entirely passionate about everything your candidate stands for, then why should you vote them into office?  I respect the men and women who are informed and are passionate, and I think we all owe them a great deal of thanks.  For the rest of us who simply do not care, we also need to remember our rights and our duty to make informed decisions.  Please make the right decision.


Talia Zangari is the Assistant Editor of the Opinion section of The Voice and is an English and Secondary Education Major.