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Put down the remote and vote!

November 9, 2010

When it comes to politics, Americans are particularly spoiled and lazy. We seem to have a constant demand for political news and opinion that manifests itself in 24 hour news channels, we rarely take the time to read through media biases to see the what a political debate is really about, and yet we complain bitterly about the state of our government. It seems we would rather be entertained than informed, and its hurting our country.

It is obvious that there are outside factors affecting how we vote or whether or not we vote at all. Campaign ads are becoming more and more outrageous, polling is making us think the outcome of a given election is predetermined and inevitable, and the mass media have failed to filter out misinformation in exchange for a juicy story. What has resulted is a desensitized populace that sees the political landscape as hillier than it really is, so it is no wonder over half of eligible American voters don’t vote.

How do we change this? Well, we must first accept that not everyone will change. Some people will always vote for the ugliest candidate, or the hottest, or the one with the funniest name, or SpongeBob (of which I am guilty…). But for the rest, they must realize that there is such a thing as civic duty, and if you do not take the time to fulfill it, you should not be complaining. According to the U.S. Census, the most common reason people give for not voting is that they were too busy or had conflicting work or school schedules, but to be honest, that is no excuse. A friend of mine recently drove from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids (a 4-hour roundtrip) just to cast her vote without thinking anything of it. Elections roll around once every two years, so do us all a favor and block out an hour of your time every two years to make sure we’re not sending witches to Washington.


  1. Andrew Babat permalink
    November 9, 2010 5:57 PM

    I agree that it is important that everyone votes, and votes for the candidate who they think will do the best job. The elections are not a joke, and some people do not take them seriously enough. The great part of our government is that officials are voted in by the people. If people do not vote or do not vote seriously, the system does not work effectively.

  2. arimark91 permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:08 PM

    While I do agree that it is important to vote, I do not agree that people should necessarily turn to the media to “see what a political debate is really about.” The media is very selective about the news it displays, and by use of dramatization, fragmentation, and authority disorder bias, it generally displays the most entertaining “news” rather than actually informing the public. For instance, many news reporter used authority disorder bias when talking about the congressional election. They pointed out the flaws in the country and then needed someone to blame in order to make the news more entertaining, and they blamed democrats. This and the fact that the polls pretty much made people think they knew who was going to win may have possibly mislead voters.

  3. jmaxmill permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:09 PM

    Wow, well said. It really does seem like too many Americans take their (our) government for granted. Understandably, the frustrations of extremist media outlets and politicians weigh heavily on the growing cynicism in the U.S. but in their defense, you see a lot more radicals out on election day than moderates.

  4. mattwales permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:15 PM

    I agree that many Americans are uninformed when it comes election time, but what I think is even worse than the majority of people not voting is that many who do vote really don’t know who they are even voting for. The mass media transforms political figures into celebrities, almost rockstars under a microscope just as Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan are. There must be a certain presidential look, charisma, and personality that a candidate cannot be without. This aesthetic almost blocks out what is really important, are we really going to be better off with this candidate in a position of overwhelming power? President Obama stole the American people despite lacking any real experience, but was it his image or promise that got him elected? It is true that many would rather watch an embarrassing “60 Minutes” interview with John McCain’s running-mate, Sarah Palin, than watch a debate that would actually reveal the strengths and weaknesses of candidates. The rise of the media in modern society has changed the way information is not only spread but controlled. I totally agree with this blog that the “juicy story” wins any day, there is plenty of valuable information out there but it is way too easy to get distracted.

  5. erikamir permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:54 PM

    I also agree that it is important to vote. When I read this blog post I thought about “The Ballot or the Bullet”. It is your civic duty as an American to take part in the political process. It is great that our country is a country in which we can participate in our government by voting. Think about your voice being heard and your vote counts for those who cannot.

  6. chris070310 permalink
    November 9, 2010 9:28 PM

    I believe it is very important to vote in our society. However, it extremely important in a democracy government for people to voic etheir opinion because this type of government is ran by the people. Therefore, voting is a major way for the majority to get things done. I think its absolutely ignorant for people to complain about problems in a scoiety but do not take the time to make a change. Voting is the only way to create success through the people. With that being said, it’s not your right to vote but your duty. Yeah the phrase is cheesy, but it has great meaning and obligation to this matter, so vote people it’s our only way.

  7. November 9, 2010 9:41 PM

    I agree with your post in the sense that Americans these days excuse themselves from participating in elections because they are too busy. I agree that citizens should make out time in there day to vote, regardless of other circumstances. However I am opposed to the point made that everyone should vote, regardless of how informed you are. I believe if a person is truly uneducated about an election, or has no particular knowledge about different candidates or proposals, that that individual should not exercise their right to vote. As all votes do count in elections, I personally believe if someone is voting “just to vote” as opposed to having some intention of electing individuals/passing proposals, then that person is making the voting system dishonest of American’s actual views.

  8. thacarter4 permalink
    November 9, 2010 10:00 PM

    Clearly those who don’t vote in elections have very little to complain about as far as the government not representing them, in a way they chose not to be represented. But at the same time elections are about hearing the voices of as many people as possible so that we do have a more representative government. To this end the government bares some responsibility in low voter turn out and should at least attempt to fix the problem. In other countries election day is a national holiday so people are encouraged to vote; we could easily implement this solution here and increase voter turn out. Anyone who wouldn’t vote when election day is a holiday or on a weekend would truly have nothing to complain about.

  9. Christine Irish permalink
    November 10, 2010 12:22 AM

    I agree that it’s very important for voters to participate in elections, but the only thing that concerns me more than people not voting is people who vote when they haven’t taken the time to inform themselves on the issue, or when the only information they have comes from sensationalized news and campaign ads. If people don’t want to vote because they don’t feel adequately informed or qualified to be making such decisions, I respect that choice. I know that in other countries like Brazil, where everyone must vote by law, presidents with no formal education past the third grade, and most recently a president with terrorist ties have been elected simply because many voters weren’t adequately informed on the candidates, and just voted to fulfill their legal obligation. Laziness and business are not good excuses, but those are only some of the reasons that people choose not to vote, and I think it is somewhat ignorant to refer to all Americans as “spoiled and lazy,” especially since that includes those of us who do care and do vote (including myself).

  10. xiaoyzhang permalink
    November 10, 2010 9:16 PM

    I don’t think that voting is THAT important. 1 vote doesn’t make that much of a difference. For example, if I didn’t vote in the elections last Tuesday, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Maybe it’s just because I’m ignorant and don’t know anything about politics. The main problem I have with this America’s government is that not everyone’s needs are met. Sometimes the representative you vote for will not get elected. And even when the representatives you vote for don’t do the things that you hoped for when you voted for them. Overall, I think that people do need to vote. However, I don’t think its irresponsible if people don’t vote.

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