Should Voting be Compulsory?

It’s Monday and the one thing I’m looking forward to today is my impending appointment with a new psychiatrist. So. This week is gonna be great. Just so great.

The good thing about psychiatrist appointments is that I will be totally sane and fit to perform my duties as a citizen of the United States. As a side note, I don’t really like using “American citizen” or calling people “Americans,” though of course I inevitably do that most of the time. If we were really thinking in geographic terms, Canadians are also Americans, along with everyone below the border… and for some reason I think acknowledging that all Mexicans are also Americans (albeit southern ones), just wouldn’t be very welcomed in our society. How did the United States take on the name for two whole continents and call themselves the rightful owner of the term?

So anyway. AMERICANS. Let’s vote. (But dear LORD not for Ted Cruz.)

Last week, President Obama made a comment about the usefulness of compulsory voting. I heard this and my brain became a cesspool of doubt and conspiracy (seriously can’t wait for that psych appointment) so I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss.

Only 34.6% of eligible voters came out in last year’s midterm elections. That’s a staggering number, considering that 100% of the people in this country have to deal with whatever decision those 34% made. I think Dems like to think that had more voters come out, the pendulum would have swung in their favor. That’s not a real consolation prize is it? We would have won if we had inspired people to support us. But… we didn’t.

I voted but that’s because I’m a optimistic to the point of stupidity and believe that my vote should count, whether or not it actually will.

So why aren’t other people going to polls? I can tell you with pretty reasonable confidence that the majority of people my age don’t vote. I happen to live in a very trendy Brooklyn neighborhood and am surrounded by the kind of New Yorkers that have lived here long enough to feel comfortable and yet still feel no need to actually participate in New York, you know? But they aren’t the only ones not voting. Nobody is voting. So is compulsory attendance the answer?

I want to say yes but…

Compulsory laws and mandated voting kind of ignore the issue. While I think people should vote and I like the general idea of mandatory voting (but much more prefer mandatory opportunities to vote, like Oregon has just done, by automatically enrolling people to vote at the age of 18), I know that it won’t fix anything more than poor turnout numbers.

It’s kind of like a kid who is rebelling from their parents. Like, “You don’t want to clean your room?” – “You have to or you can’t live here” thing. That’s not a conversation, that’s a punishment. It’s a reaction to a problem, not a solution. A solution would say, hey kid, why won’t you clean your room? And the kid would say, I’m scared of the monsters under my bed. And you would go check together. And when you both peek below, you find corporate financing, shady politicians, and illegal wars and then you’d say yeah… I don’t want to clean my room either.

Does this make sense?

What I’m saying is, people aren’t voting because they feel their votes don’t matter. People don’t vote because the political parties are all the same; embedded with deceit and money and corporate giants. Sure, I always end up backing up a politician in a presidential race, but usually after I’ve decided that the other side is an unthinkable choice. I backed up Barrack Obama like he was my long lost relative and, while I like a lot of what he does and he can tell a mean joke, he is not a peace-loving, liberal, idealist. And when I voted in the midterms, I literally just wanted to vote against the Republican party. That’s not a real reason to vote! Give me a candidate I can support and who has a fair shot at winning.

We can’t say the system works and people just aren’t voting. We have to figure out why we aren’t voting and work from there. Sure, making everyone vote will increase voter turn out and maybe make elections more fair… but we are only making the results as fair as they can possibly be in an unfair and broken system.

I would assume that compulsory voting would at least get rid of ridiculous voter registration laws across the country but their existence is a pretty good example of why nobody wants to enter into a ring that’s already rigged. This isn’t the WWE.

Maybe if we all voted, we would feel more compelled to participate in the process (not just the part we had to, but also the information we’re ingesting and our feelings about it), we would feel more equal (until they came up with a new way to piss people off) and maybe we would have more of a say because we felt we had to. But like all things in this country, we can’t just react by slapping a band-aid on, a mandate for, or a tax credit inside the issue. We have to really look at the problem and fix it. Really fix it.

Unless we are talking about my crippling anxiety. Slap a band-aid on me and fill me with drugs. In about three hours, I will vote for whoever the fuck you want.

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