Historically, I have been a pretty avid voter. This particular election, I feel an urgency to keep Illinois from getting a finance-asshole Republican governor, but there’s only so much damage he could do as the legislature will remain Democratic basically regardless of what happens. Most of the time, my reason for voting is that I live in an urban area and can easily walk to my polling place and I have a job that allows me great flexibility — hence I figure, “Why not?”
I don’t have a big theory as to why voting is necessary for everyone. I sympathize with those who choose not to do so on principle, and I also sympathize (moreso) with people who think it’s worth the effort to try to influence election outcomes because even a marginal, incremental change for the better is still better.
The one group I definitely don’t understand are those who say: no matter who you’re voting for, make sure you vote! I’m going to be honest — I would prefer that Republicans stay home. Unlike actual Republicans, I don’t favor laws that make it more difficult for my political opponents to vote, but I certainly am not in the business of encouraging people to vote against my own political preferences.
It’s this strangely de-politicized view of voting that seems to me most dangerous and insidious. The de-politicized vote, the aesthetics of voting-for-voting’s-sake, has no content other than a gesture of legitimation for the system as it now stands. The content-free demand for people to make their voice heard on election day strips their voice of any determinate content, turning it into a sheer acclamation of the actual-existing order.