People are asking why they should vote when the system doesn't seem to work. The few political parties we have look alike. Unemployment is higher than reported. The government bails out industry and hands it back to the banks.
But what do you say when your son looks at you in the eyes and says, "Aren't you going to vote?" It is hard to explain to your children that the system seems rigged from the start.
And then there is the risk that the disenfranchised become apathetic rather than fighting for change. What if the dropouts just learn to live with the status quo again?
"The stakes are too high not to participate in a very ugly election-year race," says Gates of Eden author Charles Degelman, an artist who has spent a lifetime of resistance and activism.
Voter-Suppression Laws & Slavery
As the number of wealthy people in America decreases, one wonders where the Republicans are going to get their voting constituency. They have figured out that a non-vote is equivalent to a Republican vote, since the disenfranchised are mostly disillusioned Democrats. This is why the Republicans are spending so much money to make it more difficult to vote.
Republicans enacted strict photo ID requirements this year to disqualify voters in Georgia, Kansas, Indiana and Tennessee. Courts recently reversed new voter-suppression laws in Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Ohio.
In Pennsylvania, a swing state, the lower court upheld the voter ID law on August 15, and it has gone to the Supreme Court. This smacks of the Three-Fifths Compromise reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 wherein three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes.
On Tuesday, September 4th, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a speech to the N.A.A.C.P. that 25 percent of eligible black voters but only eight percent of whites nationally do not have a photo ID.
African Americans were granted the right to vote under the 15th Amendment in 1870, but it wasn't until The Voting Rights Act of August 6, 1965 that legal barriers preventing their voting were actually overcome.
Not exercising the right to vote could mean losing it. Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates that about 9.2 percent of the state's 8.2 million registered voters do not have a state driver's license.
There is nothing wrong with giving tentative support to a particular candidate as long as that person is doing what you want. But it would be a more democratic society if we could also recall them without a huge effort. There are other ways of pressuring candidates. There is a fine line between doing that and being co-opted, mobilized to serve someone else's interest.
Handing the government to corporations by not voting is closing off options, and as we learned from the financial industry, options are valuable.
"Why would anyone want to hand corporations what's left of our democracy?" Says Degelman. Now the award-winning author spends his time arguing with disappointed liberals about not voting, voting for Romney, voting Green. He feels the stances Republicans and Democrats are taking on U.S.-driven foreign wars, the budget, social security, Medicare and women's rights are drastically different.
Should revolutionaries vote?
If things worsen, people might have to take matters into their own hands. A peaceful walk through Zuccotti Park reveals protestors coming out of their sleeping bags, handing out literature, ready to educate people so they can make their own choices.Occupy Wall Street is not pushing people to vote. "This is one issue where occupiers agree to disagree. Some say yes. Some say no," says Linnea M. Palmer Paton, Occupy Wall Street PR Team Representative.
Whether people vote or not is up to them. But one thing is for sure, when people are aware and passionate enough to take action, you don't need to remind them about voting.
Personally, I put my energy into educating people about Occupy issues and encouraging them to take action. This supports both voting and not voting. When you have people who are aware enough to publicly protest, their passion will probably bring them to the voting booth. On the other hand, these people will probably become educated about how little their vote matters in elections corrupted by money and may choose to not to go to the polls. Either way, by focusing on action we are guaranteed to be making change.
Nice position to be in
At least we still have the right to vote, a nice position to be in. If people are not exercising that right because they are waiting for a better candidate to come along and save them, they might not be faced with the dilemma for long.
J.L. Morin is the author of the Amazon bestselling novel, Trading Dreams, free at Kindle till October 14