Mike Parker: On Election Day, exercise your right to vote
I have had this conversation with a number of people through the years. When a person complains about politicians, legislative actions, or decisions by state, local, or national government, I ask one question: “Did you vote?”
Often, those who complain the loudest are ones who never vote. Non-voters take no responsibility for the outcome of the election, but they want to complain about the actions of those who – by their failure to vote – they helped elect.
Now, I am going to be frank. Deep in my heart of hearts, I really only want those to vote whose political positions are like mine. All of us may say, “Everyone has a responsibility to vote,” but we only want to energize people who hold political opinions similar to our own.
I guarantee that every Democrat would be ecstatic if no Republicans voted, and Republicans would be joyous beyond measure if Democrats stayed home by the thousands. The chief principle of winning elections is getting out your side’s voters.
For the record, I am an unaffiliated voter. In the past, I have been registered both as a Democrat and a Republican – though never at the same time. Since North Carolina does not have a classification for “Independent,” then unaffiliated is the best I can do.
When I consider candidates, the fact that D or R is attached to their names is less important to me than where they stand on the issues. I prefer to look at a candidate’s voting record rather than just hear the talking points.
One of my core beliefs is simple: any person who fails to register to vote, or any registered voter who fails to vote, forfeits the right to voice any complaint I need to take seriously.
We live in a Democratic Republic. The key word is “Republic,” which implies constitutional limitations on government power. “Democratic” means we use the ballot box to select through elections those whom we believe will best represent us.
If you do not vote, then you choose – through non-participation – to accept what the voters have decided.
We often hear people contend “the majority rules.” That assertion is nearly idiotic. A majority of voters makes the decision. The majority of voters end up being the largest minority from those who cast a ballot.
Let’s take the 2016 Presidential election as an example. Only 58 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in that election. Of the more than 65 million votes cast, Trump had 46.4 percent and Clinton received 48.5 percent, according to CNN. Trump roughly received 30,160,000 popular votes – and Clinton received 31,525,000.
Of course, Presidential elections are decided by votes in the Electoral College, and Trump received 302 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.
Let me return to my point. During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, more than 112 million people were registered and eligible to vote. If we subtract the 65 million who voted from 112 million eligible voters, we discover that 47 million did not vote at all. That 47 million totals more votes than either Presidential candidate received. Those 47 million voters essentially voted either “Don’t Care” or “Neither.”
A Pew Research Center analysis showed that U.S. voter turn-out is one of the worst among developed countries. In fact, the U.S. is 31st out of 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Negative campaigning is one turnoff to voters. Candidates who do little to inform voters of their stances on issues certainly discourage enthusiasm among voters. Over-reliance on “party affiliation” is another reason for low turnout. Apathy and ignorance are two more factors.
The bottom line is: If you do not vote, just grit your teeth and bear the results. Do not whine to me.