Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Try doing something different this election

Does your vote make the difference? No. It is, admittedly, an act of faith. You force yourself to go out and do, not what you would want to do, but what you think everyone should do – whether they do or not. You have an inner conviction that many others look at it exactly the same way, and if you are able to fight off your apathy or anger or busy schedule, and go do it, others will too. But that’s really just faith.

There is something you can do to add to your single vote. Again, it will be somewhat of an act of faith. But what the hell? If you already think you’re likely to vote (act of faith) why not add a little more to it this time, in a way that costs you nothing?

You are going to have lots of conversations between now and the election. End each conversation with “don’t forget to vote” instead of “see you later”. If just one person, out of your dozens of conversations, takes it to heart – you’ve just doubled your impact. And when you go to vote, try to take someone who needs a ride. Admittedly, this second suggestion takes a little more effort, but not that much. Have an elderly or college student neighbor? Tell them what time you are driving to the polls and ask if they need a ride. You just tripled your impact.

If you’re reading this, you probably blog. If you don’t, you certainly have email. Make the same request of others that I’m making here. You’ll never know how much impact this will have. Hey, more faith. And you know how to finish all of your emails.

Don’t forget to vote.


Lynet said...

It is, admittedly, an act of faith. You force yourself to go out and do, not what you would want to do, but what you think everyone should do – whether they do or not.

See, this is the one place where the idea of 'faith' almost makes sense. Because, yes, morality and justice and all the rest of it, those things work if and only if we buy into them -- if we have 'faith' in them.

I just don't think you need the pretty -- no, sometimes 'ugly', actually -- story to motivate said faith, that's all :-)

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I don't see how voting is an act of faith. If you vote, there's one more vote in the tally. That's a fact. You don't need faith to know that.

Does your one vote have any effect? Of course it does. Again, it adds one more vote to the tally. Without it, there'd be one less vote. Where does faith come into this calculation?

Actually, i see the question as somewhat irrelevant. Why does a vote have to have an effect? Effect on what? Your sense that you did something? The person who actually wins the election? Future policy of this country? It obviously affects all of those things. Just like your tax dollars affect what goes on in Iraq. Maybe your tax dollars paid for one meal, for one soldier for a week, but that's still an effect, even though you can't trace it, or see any results.

It's the cumulative effect of all votes that affects our lives. That's surely enough.

John Evo said...

Faith comes into the calculation with the knowledge that your vote, particularly in national politics, has no effect whatsoever.

Taxes are very much not a matter of faith. If I pay just $1000 a year in taxes, I know for a fact that about $100 of my money went to fund a war in Iraq that I'm entirely opposed to.

Obama will win or lose next Tuesday. If I don't vote, the result will be exactly the same. But I vote anyway. Half of the country chooses not to vote, at least in part because they know that their individual vote is meaningless. If those people cumulatively decided to act on faith that it meant something - that COULD change the election. But only with 100 million individual acts of faith.

bullet said...

The Freakonomics guys have some good stuff on the topic. I read it in their book, but it's in an old NYT, too.

bullet said...

I would disagree that it's an act of faith.

Faith is not supported by evidence. There is ample evidence that people vote. Polls give us some evidence that there are people who will vote like we will. It may be difficult to understand how your single vote could change something, but it's fairly simple to see that collectively they can.

Now, our electoral system adds something to that. In LA, Obama has no chance, whatsoever. So a vote for Obama in LA really doesn't count as far as electoral votes go. Still not an act of faith, but of defiance.

I won't vote for Obama, but I (thankfully) don't have to vote for McCain. Maybe I'll write Ex & chappy in, even though they've officially withdrawn. Hell, maybe I'll write myself in.

John Evo said...

Rational people HATE being told they are "acting on faith" about ANYTHING, don't they?

Faith isn't an evil thing guys. Religion just makes you jumpy!

Frankly, you get up every day and live your life as an act of faith - in something. Even if it's just that you will still be around by evening to kick it with a cold one.

Grumpy Lion said...

I don't know if I can give up my usual closing salutation of 'Get out of my face, you moron!' by replacing it with the lecture 'Don't forget to vote' or 'Don't forget to vote, you moron!' Anyone who hasn't figured out by now what's going on Tuesday is living in a cave or a bottle (or a syringe) and isn't going to bother showing up anyway, for anything.

Nah, I'm just going to stick with being my usual obnoxious anti-social self. Life is too short to start being nice.

John Evo said...

Well Ric, you KNOW I had already provided a mental exception for you, Ex and a few others!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, their vote doesn't really have much of an effect at all. Unless you live in a swing state, all of your state's electoral votes are already spoken for and it really doesn't make any measurable difference if you vote for a presidential candidate or stay home. Granted, you may have more influence on other ballot issues, so certainly you should get out there and vote to make a difference there.

I agree with spanish inquisitor though, it isn't just your vote that matters, it's the collective voice, the votes of all of the people taken as a whole, that actually make a difference.

Everyone, if you haven't already voted like I have, get out there on Tuesday and add your voice to the collective.

John Evo said...

I'll take it back about it being faith, if you guys will make an extra effort to get out the vote. Deal?