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Why I don’t vote | Guest View


Jess Grant

You can tell it’s election season in Edmonds – the political signs are sprouting up along the arterials leading into the Bowl. From Main Street to Olympic View Drive, ugly placards scar our city streets.

Do I sound grumpy? Isn’t this just the cost of living in a vibrant democracy?

Being a radical during an American election cycle is like being a vegetarian at a Texas barbecue – there’s nothing to choose from. Socialist candidates are rare, and when they do run they draw less than 5 percent of the vote.

Kshama Sawant’s success in Seattle is the exception that proves the rule.

With such a limited menu of options – beef or pork, Republican or Democrat? – voting is pointless for someone like me.

Even if I could set aside my principles, hold my nose and vote for the lesser of two evils, I’m not sure it would do any good.

The system itself seems hopelessly dysfunctional – purged voter rolls, computer hacking, foreign meddling, gerrymandered districts, corporate influence, the Electoral College.

It doesn’t inspire confidence in someone who’s already feeling disenfranchised for ideological reasons.

Luckily, there are a million other ways to get politically involved. If the two-party system isn’t a good fit, one can just pick an issue and work on it.

Whether one’s passionate about the environment or the Second Amendment, there’s an activist group somewhere that desperately needs volunteers.

If you DO fit within the two-party system, the electoral arena is a great place to get involved. Congress and statehouses are filled with people who share your politics; ballots are rife with options. I’m not telling anyone they shouldn’t vote – merely explaining my personal reasons for not participating.

Voting says, in effect, “I believe in the American system of government. I believe my vote will count.”

Voting is not a sacred duty, as liberals would have you believe. Instead, it’s a voluntary pledge of loyalty to the State.

In this sense, it’s like singing the national anthem or reciting the flag salute. All three – voting, singing, pledging allegiance – are enforced through peer pressure rather than by law.

So don’t roll your eyes when someone tells you they don’t vote. It might be the only option they have.

Jess Grant earned his master’s in public administration from Evergreen State College and once ran for San Francisco sheriff as a socialist on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.


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