Don't Vote, Don't Complain

In America, the power comes from the people. For natural persons without a Super PAC, this power is expressed through the vote. So if you want to express your most basic constitutional right as a citizen, vote.

If you think life begins at conception, vote. If you think life begins at thirty, vote. If you think taxes are too high, vote. If you think taxes are too low, vote. If you somehow think taxes are just right, I probably don't have to convince you to vote. If you want your child's teacher to get a raise, vote. If you want your child's teacher to get a pink slip, vote. If you think America should come first, vote. If you think America needs to lead the world towards a brighter future, vote. If you think Donald Trump is a bigot, vote. If you think Hillary Clinton is crooked, vote. If you think the national debt is too high, vote. If you think the national debt isn't high enough, vote. If you want real action on climate change, vote. If you think climate change is a hoax, vote. If you are tired of business as usual, vote. If you want more business as usual, vote.

A lot of people that you have never met and you will never meet sacrificed a great deal so that you could vote. Some were spat upon, others were beaten, others died in battle and others were murdered. Some dreamed of voting while others vehemently and viciously vowed to defer that dream.

57 percent of Americans voted in the last Presidential election. 93 million Americans stayed home. To put it differently, more Americans did not vote in the last presidential election than there are citizens of Egypt, Germany and Iran. Nearly twice as many Americans did not vote in the last Presidential Election as the total number of people killed in the Second World War. 7-million more Americans did not vote in the last Presidential election than the record setting 86-million people who watched the Presidential Debate on Monday night.

Do you live in a permanently red or blue state? Do you think your vote does not matter? Well you are wrong. Down-ballot elections are just as important as the Presidential election if less sensational. Contrary to some candidate's claims, the President can only execute the laws passed by Congress. As its name suggests, Congress is populated by congresswomen and congressmen elected in down-ballot congressional elections. In these elections your vote can really count. In 2014, for example, a college professor named Dave Brat defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican Primary by less than 8,000 votes. Brat won this contest despite Cantor outspending him 40 to 1.

No matter how much either Presidential candidate promises to fight for issues, which they have been told you care about, Congress passes the laws in this country. (There is nothing in Article II of the Constitution that empowers the President to fight to pass laws) Put simply, your vote means a lot and right now every candidate who will be on the ballot in November is losing sleep over how to get it. So vote this November up and down the ballot. Then vote in the off-year elections and vote again in the next Presidential election year.

If something really upsets you, write an email to your member of congress. Keeping with standard political practice, her office will multiply your letter by a factor of 1,000, i.e. your member of congress will assume your view is shared by 1,000 of her other constituents. She wants to be re-elected and needs your vote to do it. So before or even after you complain on Facebook, go to your congresswoman's or senator's website and email that same complaint to her. Facebook statuses and protests can raise awareness but these are not ends in themselves. Educating people is helpful but without political engagement all the awareness in the world will mean very little.

It's true. Democracy is work but it's a labor of love. So educate yourself about the candidates, vote for the candidates you like and then complain to those candidates when they are elected. Think of it like a long distance relationship where you can do no wrong. Above all else, remember that your political opposite is hoping beyond hope that you don't vote.

So seize your power as a citizen and vote up and down the ballot this election season and every election season thereafter. And if you don't vote, don't complain.