I know a lot of people are tired by the political theatre right now. You may not be impressed by either the Democratic or Republican candidates. You may hate the mudslinging from both sides. You may think the whole thing is overrated.
And you're going to roll your eyes when I say this: You still need to vote.
I don't care how disillusioned you are. I don't care how cynical you are. For our country's government to work, you need to vote.
Here's the thing: you don't like Obama or Romney? Vote for Gary Johnson, or any of the other candidates for President. The more people out there who vote for the candidate they actually support, the better sense politicians get of what their constituents actually want. Remember what happened in 2010? Tea Partiers voted in all of these far-right conservatives into the House of Representatives so that the government could be shrunk and now nothing is getting done.* And our country is in a bad place because people voted against something (incumbents, taxes, more involved government) more than for something.
When you vote for the candidate who best represents your interests and provides what you think is the best vision for the nation, then they know that their ideas have some weight, and they'll work for your support. Other politicians will see that person's success (or lack thereof) with their positions, and adjust accordingly based on what the people want.
But really, that's only part of why you should SERIOUSLY VOTE.
If you are a citizen of this country, people fought- hard- so that you would be able to choose who ran the country. If you're a white man, white men before you died during the War for Independence so that you could have a say in your government. If you're a person of color, people of color before you were murdered by white supremacists for trying to vote, had to combat poll taxes and literacy tests specifically designed to keep POC's from voting in parts of the country into the 1950s and 1960s. If you're a woman, women before you worked for nearly 100 years, faced shame, imprisonment and torture**, just so that you could have the vote.
And you're going to thank them by not picking up where they left off and getting involved in the way your country is run?
If you're not registered already, register online because it's easy.
If you're nowhere near the county where you're registered, like me, request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you.
If you're in a state with new voter ID laws, figure out how to work with them.
In this day and age, where every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote, where you don't even need to leave your home in order to vote, barring your not having access to a government ID (in some states), you basically have no excuse. And you must vote. If you care about the direction in which our country goes, you must vote. If you don't vote because you chose not to, you don't get to complain about the outcome.
In early October, I'll be receiving a ballot in my mailbox. I will be choosing the candidates who best represent my interests, and then I will be sending the ballot back to Contra Costa county to have my votes counted. I'll have contributed to how my country's government functions. How awesome is that?
Register and vote. I don't particularly care whom you vote for (though as a queer person I'd appreciate it if you didn't vote for Romney***), just freaking vote. It's not that hard.
I'm gonna let Hank Green play me out.
*Don't blame only Obama for the economy; the Legislative Branch, in theory, has just as much power as he does, and Congress blocked his jobs bill while introducing none by themselves.
**The clip is from the excellent movie Iron-Jawed Angels, pretty accurately depicting the final push for women's suffrage. Protesters for the National Women's Party, led by Alice Paul (Hilary Swank), were imprisoned for picketing a wartime president. Paul went on a hunger strike, and in order to prevent her starving to death and giving the cause a martyr, the prison force-fed Paul raw eggs and milk.
***Gary Johnson is a fiscally conservative, socially progressive alternative