I am an apathetic voter. Call me the enemy, the silent elector of the "bad politicians," the problem with America. I don’t really care, because voter apathy feels like, well, apathy.
Surely, my 17 year-old-self would have cried knowing what I have become, but it’s no use to think about principle. I see the election signs, but I just don’t feel it. I don’t believe in it this time around.
I am writing this opinion as an SOS; I so desperately do not want to feel this way and I hope that the non-apathetic Americans can learn a little bit about our mindset to help us out and put passion back into us. I also want to be a small voice for my apathetic friends, because we’re in a sorry position.
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In my short voting career, I have seen little except democracy disappointing my expectations. In my senior year of high school, I was so excited to be part of the magical workings of the US political system. I watched all of the debates for every side of every race I could, I visited all of the candidates’ websites and I gathered more information than anyone that I knew.
Tell me, though, how can that possibly be a good use of time in a place like Arizona’s LD 16, which includes Mesa and Apache Junction? Voting in a district with an insurmountable majority drains the hopeful, democracy-as-a-shining-institution feeling right out of you.
Our district’s Democratic candidates run on the expectation they have no chance. I registered Republican, because there is literally no choice in Mesa’s Democratic primary.
Then I watched my much-researched and seemingly favored Republican candidate for US representative lose terribly to the most radical Republican in the race. Then, in the general election, I watched all of my preferred candidates lose by 30 percent margins or more.
It hurts, especially when you know that many members in the unbreakable majority are made up of people who don’t put any more time into researching their candidates than reading the little ‘R’ at the end of their name on the ballot.
And (oh goodness) the presidential race! Everything that I believed democracy was supposed to protect against happened. So slowly, so painfully.
How did that happen? Some say it happened because people didn’t care enough to vote. However, if a million people don’t care, what does it matter that a million-and-one don’t care? And doesn’t it make my life better not to worry about the outcomes of elections I have negligible power over? And if I do turn out, I have no control over what the others will do. I might as well have stayed home.
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Excited voters are saying that this election is the big one, the one everyone needs to vote in to create change. However, if excited voters couldn’t get people to vote in perhaps the most contentious election ever, I don’t know what is different about now.
Don’t our apathetic feelings make sense? I’ve tried talking to excited voters about it, but they shut me down like I’m some un-American, Putin-loving conspirator working to subvert this democracy. "Of course your vote counts!" they say. Well, prove it! Please! I just don’t want to put my heart into something that turns up null. It’s like a one-sided friendship: healthier if the other friend lets go.
Yes, I turned up to the polls for this primary election with the biggest smile I could conjure, but I wasn't actually excited about it. I’ll do my part to keep our system going, because no one’s come up with something better than democracy yet. It’s too bad that the best we have sucks.
Tell me, excited voters, about the source of your hope. Why is this time better? Why should I care more? Also, tell your apathetic friends and tell them with kindness. We can be reasonable people, despite our evils.
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