Posted By: Scott From San Francisco
Nov. 11, 2008
The concept of the Electoral College has been an obstacle for me all my non-voting life. As a Californian, I never felt compelled to vote in the presidential election because it would not make a difference. Neither did I ever find reason to study propositions well enough to consider myself an educated voter, and have been of the mindset that a voter unaware of all the facts can be a dangerous thing. Voting is not a point of sale transaction where a spur of the moment decision can be based on the sign the guy outside the polling station is carrying.
On a President
I did finally register in 2000 when I learned that a party needed a three percent popular vote in order to receive federal funding and engage in the televised debates. I felt that while my vote had no impact on the presidential election, it was my chance to contribute to democracy by improving it through helping a third party.
With a third party on the official scene, the other two parties might actually have to answer questions and address issues, as opposed to skirting them as is the norm. Otherwise, I saw the 2000 presidential election as another vote for a lesser of two evils, and again, a presidential vote in California as a forgone conclusion.
I was proven right when Gore won California, but Bush won the US. My popular vote certainly would not have helped Gore in 2000, even if I wanted it to.
This year was no different. I began to waver on Obama a bit when his story started to shift and he pandered by putting on that flag pin (I have hopes that he’ll remove it and restore his focus on productive, pragmatic changes he used to speak of). Though I read intelligent articles in The Economistdescribing candidate rhetoric shifts towards the central naturally as the election nears, but I was skeptical and decided not to bother casting a vote for someone I was no longer sure of. Consider it a symbolic non-vote. Obama was a clear victor in California from the outset and of course that’s how it played out.
On a Proposition
The evening prior to the election my wife mentioned Proposition 8, the now infamous measure passed in California to ban gay marriage. Another forgone conclusion in my mind, as I could not fathom a California that would vote to ban gay marriage. This was a proposition I actually would have been interested in, however really learning the facts about it and not just the water-cooler opinion the day of the actual election would have been extremely tough. I saw it as another easy issue that would be handled properly by the state’s voters.
The fact the issue was even up for a vote is laughable. The moment the government granted tax benefits for married couples, marriage between two consenting adults ceased to be a religious matter, and a Federal or State government banning it became discriminatory.
Gay marriage is an issue I actually believe in and this year I learned why I need to not only vote, but spread the word about the issues that matter. I was unaware of the measure, having not heard word of it at work or in public, but now know that I can no longer take the idea of California progressiveness seriously, and can no longer take my vote or other voters leanings for granted.
I know several people that voted for President alone, and the propositions and other positions of office were simply ignored. Propositions that are discriminatory at their core - and regardless of what your angle is, again, the moment taxes entered the marital equation, all objections against the marriage of two consenting adults lost all traction – should not even be up for a vote in this country.
I will now put my vote to good use in every measure I believe in whether it will make a difference or merely be symbolic. The cracks in my logic (and laziness) have now revealed themselves to me and I can no longer be a non-voter.