George Carlin had a twist on the familiar saying, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.” He said, “If you do vote, don’t complain; you participated in the process that put the bastards in. Don’t blame me … I had nothing to do with it; I don’t vote.”
Cute, but as our dearly departed friend former Indiana Attorney General Jack Dillon said, “You can be too funny.”
One hears the question, “Why should I care who runs the government; they’re all the same. I live my own life and I don’t want anything to do with those jerks.”
Trouble is, those jerks get to have a lot to do with you. And once the election is over, you have no choice.
They can and — you may have noticed — do take money from you. Which is reasonable if they don’t give loopholes to their buddies and if the money is spent without waste for something that makes sense such as schools, roads, non-faked national security and protecting your freedom rather than taking it away from you.
Bulletin: All elected officials are not the same. Even if they differ only by degrees, those degrees add up; they count.
Some officials do and some do not think that even as they vastly increase government spending, vastly high-income people should suddenly pay less than most Americans have thought fair for a very long time.
Some officials do and some do not think you ought to have the freedom to visit Colossal Communist China, but not tiny Communist Cuba. Some officials do and some do not think we should have Supreme Court justices who will read the Constitution to restrict freedom rather than protect it and to cut corners to help friends win elections.
Some officials do and some do not think we should borrow billions on our kids’ credit cards to borrow the trouble of slaughtering hundreds of them in a foreign land utterly unrelated to our security, but a land with oil that is of interest to certain campaign-contributing American moguls.
So let’s say that, whether you like it or not, the way an election comes out could make your life miserable or, if you happen to be a young soldier or Marine, it could make you unnecessarily dead and your mom, dad and sweetheart grief-stricken.
Of course, there’s still the question of whether your vote can make a difference. We’ll just do one sentence on the “but for a nail” answer: Elections have been decided by a single vote and the election coming up seems headed in that direction.
Why bother to vote? Maybe you shouldn’t — unless, of course, you value your life, your property and your freedom to do whatever you want that doesn’t harm anybody else.
But voting is not just a matter of what you need to do to serve your creature comforts. Voting is also a matter of pride, which is not a material thing, but gives that curiously spine-tingling sensation of euphoria that comes with having done a really good deed. If you see a piece of trash on the sidewalk and don’t pick it up, you are not the one who threw it there, but you are the one who left it there.
A vote is partly like a private prayer. It is yours and it is you. JFK said it: “A good conscience [is] our only sure reward.”