Why I vote

“Although we seem trapped in an age of anger and despair, the alternatives remain the same as in all other ages. We can scuttle — or we can sail the seas. Navigare necesse est. One must chart his course and sail.”

Allison Davis in a 1970 graduation address at the University of Chicago.

Voting really doesn’t make sense. It’s one of those interesting situations where your actions don’t make any difference, but the bulk action of people like you can change the course of an election. Furthermore local elections that are marginally more important, where real change is made and the weight of your vote is slightly higher, are routinely completely ignored by even those who consider ourselves very politically informed. You can argue one way or the other, question my civic mindedness, but in the end you’ll only have a shrug from me. This is just the way it is.

So why is voting important? Why do I bother? For me it’s a way to reset the course and to spend some time considering what is important to me. Whether or not I think my vote has an effect on any given election, I believe in our democratic process — that the conversations people are conducting in the media, in politics, and within their social networks are important for setting our national priorities. So the act of voting is an act of commitment for me — where do I want to see us go? What do I care about?

In the same way, I see it as a stake in our nation’s agenda and actions. Even if I don’t agree with policy on a national or international scale, as an American I have to take ownership. I’m not planning on emigrating any time soon, so to me a vote is a claim on democracy, a salute to the process.

That being said, there is some scary stuff happening this primary season. Get out the vote, New York.

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Originally published at www.hallgarst.com on April 19, 2016.

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