Vote Like Your Life Depends On It, Because It Does

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

Related Post Roulette

64 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    1) The popular vote doesn’t matter. Anyone who ever thought it did, didn’t remember civics in high school.
    2) My state is will go for Biden. Even the “republicans” are liberal compared to any definition of conservative.
    3) There’s no need to waste my time.
    4) Bed’s made. Time to lie in it. I’m talking to you media dipshits. It was understood your claim of neutrality was BS, but you’ve clearly showed it since before the last election. May you die in the flames that come.
    5) Maybe a little civil war will clear out some “dead wood”.?
    6) Things gotta get worse before they get better.Report

    • Reformed Republican in reply to Damon says:

      “1) The popular vote doesn’t matter. Anyone who ever thought it did, didn’t remember civics in high school.”

      Yeah. I hate when people bring up the popular vote. It would be like a football team claiming they should win because they had more first downs, even though they had fewer points at the end. The candidates are not campaigning to win the popular vote, they are campaigning to win the electoral vote. If our election was based on popular vote, then it is likely the result of the popular vote would have been different.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Reformed Republican says:

        Its completely true that the popular vote doesn’t matter as to who becomes President.

        But it does matter when people start talking about mandates, or saying things like “The American people decided…”

        Because while Trump won the election fair and square, its also true that the majority of the votes cast were against him, not in favor of him.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

      1) The popular vote doesn’t matter. Anyone who ever thought it did, didn’t remember civics in high school.

      For President, sure. But on the same ballot the popular vote counts very much for one of my state’s US Senators and he may be the tipping point for which party controls that body. And there are a number of state-level referendum and initiative proposals (one makes a very substantial change in how property taxes are set, one would put a much sharper limit on the availability of abortions on the books, one would create a paid medical and family leave program for employees, plus more).Report

    • Pinky in reply to Damon says:

      “Things gotta get worse before they get better.”

      Not necessarily. Some things do have to get worse, or fall apart, before they can be rebuilt better. Some things can be fixed as they go. Let’s not forget that a lot of things can keep getting worse. We’re all an EMP or a virus mutation away from the dark ages. There are a third of a billion people here, and billions more around the world, who need America to not get worse. Even if you’ve got enough ammo and seeds for 50 years, you probably don’t have enough fuel. You probably do have an appendix that might need to come out. But even if all that goes well, how are things getting better in those 50 years?

      A survey of history shows that nearly every time there’s a civil war or revolution, the worst people end up in charge. This isn’t a coincidence. In a fair footrace, the fastest person will finish first; in a political free-for-all, the person who will do anything for power will end up with power.Report

      • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

        Well said.Report

        • Pinky in reply to InMD says:

          Thanks. Having watched the fall of the Soviet Empire and the Arab Spring play out, I don’t think Americans realize how lucky we were. Not just with Washington, but the whole array of Founders who didn’t want to hold power. Usually you get Spain: twenty factions eventually forming two sides, then the worst of the winning side assuming power. I think Yeltsin is the closest we’ve seen recently to a good person emerging as a leader from the chaos.Report

          • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

            And yet even Yeltsin was defeated by the drink.

            But in all seriousness I think Americans are very naive about the world outside, both now and in history. Sometimes that’s a good thing, to the extent it let’s us be innocent and achieve things we might not with a more cynical, nihilistic culture. Other times though it drives a startling lack of perspective that gives way to hubris and ultimately disaster.Report

      • Damon in reply to Pinky says:

        Don’t make the assumption that 1) I’m rooting for civil war or something akin to it and 2) that i expect “my side” to prevail or that I’ll even survive.Report

        • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Damon says:

          That’s a good clarification. But certainly it’s understandable that someone might infer you’re rooting for civil war when you make a comment like “Maybe a little civil war will clear out some ‘dead wood.'” It’s not the only inference someone can make, but with a comment like that, the inference is in the cards.Report

      • Kristin Devine in reply to Pinky says:

        Yep, as I’ve said elsewhere I think a lot of people who root for the civil unrest are those who think they’ll survive it and even may end up better off than they were to start with ~even if the system itself ends up evil-er than it already is~. And while I suppose that’s a take, it’s not MY take, for all the reasons I laid out in my last piece. I don’t want a bunch of people, to like, you know, DIE, because the rest of us can’t pull our shit together and realize, hey, ok, maybe we can change some things without resorting to violence.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Damon says:

      did you miss the entire middle part of this where I explained that it matters because people are MAKING it matter?

      I don’t like that it matters any more than you do, but it IS IMPORTANT because whoever wins the election is going to have their legitimacy questioned and everyone needs to do what it takes to ensure the election is as legitimate as possible.Report

  2. Philip H says:

    I have no idea if more people might have shown up to vote Trump, or more people might have shown up to vote Hillary, but had those 97 million eligible voters who declined to vote in 2016 believed that the election was still a horse race, the outcome could easily have been different.

    That’s your money quote right there.

    Look, I’ve been writing about those voters here and elsewhere since. During the primaries I lamented here often that as the field on the left wore down to Mr. Biden we might well loose this thing because he wouldn’t inspire anyone. Then the Dumpster fire got stuffed into Train Wreck and wrapped in a Cluster F*ck (or whatever it was Jake Tapper said after the debate). And that evaporated from the conversation.

    I stand with you in your analysis, and your pleas, especially to the leftists and progressives.

    We gain nothing be remaining on the sidelines looking for left side purity.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Philip H says:

      Biden inspires people fine. He beat Warren and Sanders easily when it came to getting the Democratic nomination. People on political don’t like Biden’s style of charisma that much because it isn’t designed for people with graduate degrees or the Internet that much.Report

      • Philip H in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I don’t particularly care about how inspiring he was to party regulars in the primaries. I care about how inspiring he is to voters in the general. 45% of voters sat it out the last time, and Kristen is correct that had even 5% more of them voted we might have a different outcome.

        I also don’t agree that he’s uninspiring for people with graduate degrees. He has my vote. and possibly yours if I read between the lines correctly. We were both going to vote anyway. We both voted last time. We are not the problem Kristen seeks to address.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think a lot of progressives got spoiled with Obama, and are looking for a hero to worship.

        Its sort of like those threads I’ve seen about how superhero movies are intrinsically fascist, since they relegate the citizenry to passive bystanders to their own fate while the Man On Horseback saves the day.

        What “thrills” me about a possible Biden administration is the exact opposite of hero-worship.
        I want a bland competent administration comprised of ordinary citizens who work energetically to make our nation a better place for all.

        I really want to stop marching in the streets, or needing to, and I want to wake up every morning and not have to think about the government.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Not for nothing but the federal civil service – almost 2million strong nationally – is comprised exactly of “competent administration comprised of ordinary citizens who work energetically to make our nation a better place for all.” We take our service to our fellow citizens seriously, and while we do answer to the Administration in the form of the White House we will be here picking up the pieces after this administration departs.

          What you want is leadership that’s competent and working energetically.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

            Are your comments Hatch Act compliant?Report

            • Philip H in reply to Pinky says:

              I’ve made public comments about Administrations since I was hired in early Bush 2 along those lines. Still have a job.

              Just reminding everyone that “government” isn’t just the elected politicians and their political appointees.Report

          • Damon in reply to Philip H says:

            Based upon the anecdotal info I have, I would disagree. I think the force is underworked, generally moderately productive or less, and contains a lot of non value add employees. Your mileage may vary.Report

            • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Damon says:

              Speaking anecdotally as a state employee (but technically not civil service, but I work with and among civil service employees), here are my observations (based on the pre-Covid situation. Post-Covid, things are a little different):

              1. A large majority of them is dedicated and want to do a good job.

              2. Some just phone it in. The number of people who do so and get away with it is probably a lot larger than in the private sector because of how the incentives are lined up. But they’re still, in my view, a small minority. Maybe it’s too big a number, but still a minority.

              3. Even most of the conscientious workers, as people who respond to incentives, are probably not as productive as they could be. By that I mean that most (all?) jobs have slack times and times when employees sometimes just don’t work as productively as an outside observer might think they should. I.e.: the workers are humans.

              4. We are probably overpaid, especially if we compare to what most of us could earn in the private sector.

              5. Speaking for myself personally, I probably am overpaid compared to the value my service actually gives my employer, beyond the fact that I would also earn less in the private sector. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe I do a conscientious job and provide value t the public, but I also think I get more than my services give back. Not that I return the money or quit out of principle.Report

              • I’d like to add an addendum to #1. Only a small number of the government employees I’ve known or observed are what I would call “super dedicated government worker heroes who have only the best interests of the public at heart.” There are indeed some of those, but pro-government worker arguments (such as we see, for example, when public employee unions talk about those they represent) tend to assume there’s more of them than there are.

                Even so, the majority, in my view, really are conscientious, competent, and dedicated.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Very early during the Democratic nomination process, many people noted that strongest argument for Biden was that he is going to be the first President in a long time that nobody is going to view as a savior. He didn’t have a cult behind him like Warren and Sanders did. He wasn’t going to be the great savior of the Whites like Trump. He was just going to be President.Report

        • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          This is a really good point. Obama was a fine President but I distinctly remember being taken aback by the adulation back in ’08. If Biden wasn’t so old I’d personally be downright enthusiastic for the prospect of his presidency rather than merely firmly content.

          But watching the Biden and Trump lines diverging on 538 is lip balm for my agnostic soul. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Needing a politician you are inspired by seems to be a thing in Presidential systems since the President often takes on a slightly monarchal role for many people. In parliamentary systems, the citizenry never really felt the need to be that inspired by their politicians for the most part. Although this seems to be changing and Prime Ministers are starting to get fan bases. There might be something in the monkey brain that craves a leader you.can look up to.Report

          • CJColucci in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Adulthood is hard.Report

          • Koz in reply to LeeEsq says:

            This is a great point.

            Along these lines, I’m vaguely interested in contemporary Israeli politics, mostly because I don’t care about the outcome.

            Given the trust issues involved, I’m not completely convinced that the continuous support for “unsuitable” officeholders or candidates is completely irrational. Binyamin Netanyahu has tried to convince the Israeli voters that they can’t have mainstream Jewish-centric policy in Israel without him as Prime Minister. And a number of the voters believe him. And of course, a different set of Israeli voters don’t believe him. And other voters oppose mainstream Jewish-centric policy on the substance.

            From an outsider’s perspective, I’m still not sure who’s right.Report

      • James K in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m reminded of the women in the elevator reacting to meeting Joe Biden. I get the feeling lots of people find Biden inspiring, it’s just none of them are part of the media class, so the media narrative is “Biden doesn’t inspire”.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to James K says:

          Biden is an old school Irish-American street politician when it comes down to it. The type that will slap you on the back, ask about your spouse and kids, tell stories of the old days, and kiss babies. This works very well with non-online people but it doesn’t do much for very educated voters or the media set, especially if they are forty or below. It just seems to old-fashioned.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I implore people to vote for Jo Jorgensen. If the Libertarians get more than 5%, maybe they can start being included in the debates!

    Which, lemme tell ya, are important.Report

  4. Brandon Berg says:

    Even if your vote doesn’t count-count, it COUNTS, because if you’re a conservative living in New York City or a liberal living in Chugwater, Wyoming, you need to let people in positions of power know that you are here, you vote, you matter, and you’re not going to toss your hobo bindle over your shoulder and shuffle off somewhere to start a new life, at least not willingly.

    If your state’s electoral votes are already guaranteed to go one way or the other, making your vote effectively a protest vote, why not cast your protest vote for the candidate who best represents you? You live in Washington, right? That went 53-37 for Clinton in 2016. It’s a foregone conclusion that Biden’s going to win the state, and it’s better to cast a protest vote for Jorgenson than a protest vote for Trump or a vote of confidence for Biden. if I got to cast the deciding vote between Trump and Biden, I’d vote for Biden and then hop in the shower and scrub myself until I bled, but if it’s not going to give a difference, why give either one of those clowns a vote?Report

  5. North says:

    I like the core point. Vote, vote vote.

    The husband and I have already early voted. Coaxed three normally non-voting friends into doing so as well. Minnesota isn’t looking very risky right now but I ain’t taking any chances.Report

  6. Koz says:

    Yeah, this is a weird one. I want to agree with the OP, but I don’t.

    I do agree, I think, with the logic of voting for a GOP or Demo vs minority party or not voting but I’m not sure it applies here. Part of the idea of voting R/D is that the voter wants to assert some measure of control over the outcome. Even allowing for hedging and caveats, I don’t think we should say Trump is “my guy”.

    The lesser evil thing is mildly persuasive, but it assume that we know who the greater evil and the lesser evil are, and I’m not at all sure we do.

    The other thing worth mentioning, I don’t think the 1859 analogy is overblown or overstated at all. But, the antagonism is not fueled by the GOP or Demo political establishment. It comes from the grass roots a little bit, but mostly from the activist class. So the point about voting to send a message to the politicians really doesn’t work.Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    The thing here is, voting is important because it shows that people consider the system a valid one. That they think that the way political change happens is that everyone in the country (who feels like it) gets together and throws bits of paper into a big bowl, and then we count how many bits of paper are red and how many are blue, and whoever got more bits of paper gets to run the place. Versus, like, the Proud Boys dragging Clinton out of a limousine and stringing her up from a tree. Even voting for third parties in a way that totally definitely lost the election for (whoever), you still have those people voting, they still actually did think that the way we do things is the way things ought to be done.Report

  8. Somehow I managed to cut the final paragraph and didn’t catch it before submitting. I added it above, but I’ll post it again here:

    One of the things I’ve noticed after a lot of elections, but the election of 2016 most of all, is that the “experts” take away (sometimes, seemingly willfully) all the wrong messages. If you don’t vote, you enable them to take away the message that people just don’t care about the outcome. If you don’t vote, you enable them to take away the message that red states and blue states are a thing that really exists and not a social construct. If you don’t vote, telling yourself your vote doen’t count, you are very possibly UNDERMINING the legitimacy of the presidency by playing an electoral college game in a world where apparently, like it or not, the popular vote matters. Don’t let the experts ignore your voice, even though it’s a tiny thing in a great big cesspool.

    A single vote may be small, lame, and dumb, but it is very, very far from meaningless.

    Vote, you filthy animals!Report

  9. This is probably one of the best arguments for why people should vote. In the abstract, I might still see it all a little differently, but in real life, I think it’s a very good argument. And mercifully, you avoided the “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” argument, which I think is a ridiculous argument. (Seriously, if a president has a disastrous policy that hurts thousands of people unnecessarily, I’m not going to say that some x number of those thousands have no “right” to complain just because they didn’t vote.)

    Thanks also for bringing the worry, in 2016, that Clinton might win the electoral college and Trump might win the popular vote. I remember that as a “live issue.”

    Thanks, overall, for writing the post. It was a good read.Report

  10. Fish says:

    Excellent piece, Kristin.

    I may or may not have stood in my kitchen last night, ballot in hand, and harangued the voting-age teenagers in my house over who (and what) is on the ballot and how important it is to vote.Report