On Voting

by · November 4, 200810 comments

Second round of the French presidential electi...

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Today, Americans go to the polls to choose the person who will lead this country for the next four years. It’s an important day that much of the world, and certainly a lot of the blogosphere, has been anticipating for quite some time.

Voting, to me, is the most important thing we Americans (or other nationalities in their respective ways) do as citizens. I’ve missed voting in one election since I became eligible. That was, I believe, a primary election held shortly after I moved to Alabama in 2001. I simply didn’t know the candidates or issues there well enough to feel qualified to chime in. My philosophy on voting is that if you don’t, you can’t complain about the outcome. Not that I make it a habit of complaining about politicians, but I have no right to be happy or frustrated with the decisions they make on our behalf if I’m not part of what chooses them to act on it.

Honestly, though, I don’t have a lot of faith in the American political system. It’s controlled by lobbyists and special interest groups, two uber-powerful parties that pull politicians strings like puppeteers and is driven by slick communications professionals that have spun, double-talked and lied so much over the last 50 years that no one can trust or believe anyone on either side of the aisle. I still vote for the reason mentioned above, but when super delegates and electoral colleges and bad storms on election day in large, Democratic population centers can throw an entire election one way or another, the system doesn’t work. It’s not representative of the people and, frankly, it’s not worth arguing over because the big money players will keep the current system in place no matter how bad the public wants to change it.

Our government is bought and paid for. Voting is symbolic of a more ideal time in our nation’s history. One day, the power of the people may prevail and maybe social media will have something to do with it. For now, though, it’s just the factory churning out Soylent Green. Careful what you eat.

Granted, this is a super-pessimistic, defeatist view of what our political system is or can be. I know it’s somewhat extreme. But I also see example after example of voting the line of the party, not the constituency, and favor-for-favor governing that adulterates the democracy we’re supposed to have. I will never not vote, but it’s hard to think mine counts for much or that those I help elect care about the people that put them there.

And don’t get me started on political campaigns. If you’ve run for pubic office in the last 50 years you’re probably guilty of lying, slandering and manipulating people to gain favor, which makes you wholly unqualified to represent American citizens, in my opinion.

(I can hear my Canadian friends now: “Move north, my friend.”)

All that said, if you are an American and you haven’t yet done so, please vote today. The more people that do, the more accurately the representation is, even if it’s flawed.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    I'm glad you decided to post your controversial views that you were considering on your Tweet from yesterday.

    The political system is the way it is. People understand there are a lot of lobbyists and lying involved with politics, such to the fact that being a politician almost has a negative undertone to it.

    But the political system is the same way any industry works. Is it fair the Yankees can buy whatever free agents they want? Is it fair that the web start-ups who have the most funding are the ones only being talked about? I'm sure there are more examples as well. The thing is, whether fair or not, right or wrong, to quote Bruce Hornsby, “that's just the way it is.”

    The system won't change but I do agree with you that it is still important to vote, and you can't complain if you don't. I also think it's important to vote IF you want your vote to represent someone. People are always saying you have the right to vote, but you also have the right not to vote. I don't think voting just for the hell of it to please others does any good if there are no real intentions behind it.

    I'm glad you posted on the topic.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Craig. We're on the same page. I appreciate the indulgence in today's post.

  • http://katie.heyvan.com Katie Van Domelen

    I agree that there are definitely flaws in our political system – but all we can do is keep trying. If you don't vote you can't complain is my motto. Also I feel a different energy this year, people are a little less apathetic and I feel proud of that. Check out what's been going on on all the social networking sites – Facebook is my favorite because it's counting how many people have responded that they voted today and it's been growing exponentially all morning. I wrote a blog post about that this morning that you can check out at my website if your interested, katie.heyvan.com.

    All I'm saying is at least it shows a little improvement.

    There's my two cents…just trying to bring a little more optimistic view :)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Katie and thanks for the link. Will check out your blog now. Appreciate the input.

  • BillSledzik

    Pessimistic? Maybe. But also realistic. The system is corrupt, and no one trusts those who lead it any more. I'd love to think that will change with the next administration, but it won't.

    Lesson here is pretty scary. When you and I lose trust in a business, we don't patronize it. When we lose trust in a nonprofit, we don't contribute. What happens when we lose trust in government and, no matter how we vote, nothing changes? Too often, we tune out and become jaded and apathetic. I lost faith post Watergate and I've never fully recovered. Yeah, I'm old.

    But you know, no matter what happens in this election, things have got to get better. I mean, we've pretty much hit bottom. Break out the Maker's Mark.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well, amen to that, my friend. That's one interesting thing about the spirits industry. When times are good, people have cocktails. When times are bad … people have cocktails. Just hope they keep me around helping them out.

  • http://windchimesindia.wordpress.com Nimesh Shah

    I am from India and very soon we will have our elections here. This year I have made it a point to vote. There are many flaws in the electrorate system here too but if I skip on voting which i have been for last several turns, I will not be doing justice to a democratic system. I cannot then criticize the government of any wrong doings as when the time was there to change it, I did not vote. So I would vote and being a democratic country ourself, I am sure I will be able too get them corrected.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You're a good man, Nimesh. The singular vote doesn't seem to be that effective, but the more people feel that way, the less Democracy works. Good for you for voting. We applaud you and wish you, and your country, well.

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