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Not voting really gets me in the political keister in a way that other issues don’t. I mean, I can get politically riled up, trust me. I’m a Jew from the burbs of New York City whose parents and relatives were all New Yorkers so it’s a given: I opine; I emote. But this is different. When people talk about not voting I feel more angry than riled up or emotional about an issue because:
• Not voting deprives our society of knowing — on a regular basis — what’s true about who we are, what we want, what we believe, and what we value. A percentage of voters is different than a percentage of Americans. Not voting distorts the truth, which is critical to any relationship. So the relationship between the American citizenry and its government (made up of American citizens) cannot be healthy if truth is absent or obfuscated. It just can’t.
• Chronic, persistent not-voting allows those who care about political power to manipulate and otherwise take advantage of “low voter turnout” to promote candidates and policies that likely wouldn’t fly if more or most people made known their preferences by voting. Republicans in Kansas tried it this summer and guess what? Higher-than-anticipated voter turnout — “substantially higher than any primary election since at least 2010 and is more than double the turnout in 2012 and 2014” — rendered their cynical tactics moot. In 2022. In a midterm primary election. With extreme polarization and a marauding anti-democratic force muscling its way into power. In Kansas. In August. Imagine that.
• Fundamentally, not voting is about not taking responsibility and that’s the part that pisses me off. If you ask me, we are the privileged inheritors of a system of government, an experiment, that we have sullied — by abdicating any collective responsibility for maintaining it. It looks now like a dilapidated mansion in disrepair. But every building inspector says “the bones are good, the foundation is strong.” It just needs a remodel and we can take responsibility for that. We can remodel our government — by voting.
Worry not because as a conscious politics practitioner, I don’t stay stuck in anger. I vote and I do what the law of attraction and the power of intention guide us to do: think and talk and feel in terms of what’s desired, even if it’s just me. In this case, I desire a 95%+ voter participation rate wherein we Americans take full responsibility for governing ourselves and we trust election results because of near-universal participation. I think about and advocate for that.
Now. There is, it seems, a stratum of our population that doesn’t vote because they don’t really know to vote. In the realm of compassion/non-judgment, I don’t harbor a shred of antipathy toward them. That’s reserved for our society, writ large, which seems to have decided it would be just fine not to enshrine civics education — how our system of government works and the responsibilities we citizens have for it — into the American fabric. So today I leave room for the fact that some people just haven’t been taught to vote. And until we have mass civics education, we always have peer pressure and the valiant work of get-out-the-vote activists and organizations who do yeoman’s work ahead of and between elections to assuage this issue.
…when it comes to large swaths of non-voters, particularly those who are 18-35 or so, we are swimming in a sea of beliefs. I’m not represented in government. Both candidates suck. Nothing will change. We have no power. Politics isn’t for me.
There is also a stratum of “likely voters,” educated people with high incomes who are registered and have voted in the past and who, on more than one occasion, have also said, yeah, the day got away from me. I didn’t vote. I meant to, but my meeting went over and then I was running late for yoga and, well, oops, I’ll catch the next one. They seem to know something about the value of voting but do not have enough of a sense of responsibility for voting. Again, civics education please?
Beyond these reasons, I posit that when it comes to large swaths of non-voters, particularly those who are 18-35 or so, we are swimming in a sea of beliefs. I’m not represented in government. Both candidates suck. Nothing will change. We have no power. Politics isn’t for me. Welcome to the party, non-voter. We’ve all had beliefs like yours: well-founded and non-serving. All our beliefs are well-founded, no judgment. But we impede our happiness when our beliefs don’t serve us.
The only way to know which beliefs do and don’t serve us is in the context of intention — what we want. If we want change and believe nothing will ever change, our belief doesn’t serve us. It’s our foot on the brake. To live consciously is to be aware of that and either give up the desire for change or give up the belief that nothing will change. FYI, sorting out beliefs and intentions is a feature of our Conscious Politics Free Monthly Trainings. You’re invited.
For anyone not voting because you’re angry: please get all the way enraged and use that rage for good. If angry sex is a thing, if angry eating is a thing, then angry voting is a now officially a thing. Use your rage to register the fuck out of your voice (but be nice to the people who help you do it). Use your rage to find out which elected officials and parties contribute to everything you’re so angry about and vote against them. Hard. I’ll help you! To be sure, they will be everywhere from, as they say, dog catcher on up to president. Everywhere. Find whos’ doing you wrong — it isn’t hard — and rage against them again and again with votes for every one of their opponents up and down the ballot.
Finally, non-voter: how about a little appreciation? How about an attitude of gratitude for what you might have here, now, today, as the result of being an American? Freedom of speech? Self-governance? The open road? Free education? Freedom of and from religion? Conscious practice is about choosing, on purpose, what to focus our attention upon. And focusing our attention upon gratitude for what is — in the face of what isn’t — is good conscious practice, too.