Jump Out Your Fishbowl is not a political blog, so I’m not going to discuss the presidential candidates here (check out personal blog for rants and raves), but I will discuss our civic duty and things you can do that might certainly be outside your comfort zone this election.
My main agenda in this post is to get YOU to vote (if you planned on skipping this election). I have very strong opinions about who should not be president, but I will save that for my personal blog. Politics and government classes were a long time away so I did some fact checking on Wikipedia (don’t judge) and other sites. Shoutout to my middle school history teachers (MSTM!!). I am of the mindset that if you don’t vote, don’t complain, but this is such an important election this year. I am constantly hearing people say that “my vote doesn’t matter” and that is simply not true. Here’s why:
Not selecting a candidate is not saying “I can’t stand either candidate,” it’s saying “I prefer both candidates about the same.”
The United States of America is democratic in nature, with some government regulation. The founding fathers believed in Checks and Balances so that one group did not have too much power. So we have a Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branch in the federal government. The Executive branch is made up of the President, Vice President, and executive departments. The Legislative branch is made up of the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives. The Supreme court and other federal courts make up the Judicial Branch. You can read on and on about rights the President has to Veto certain rulings and ways congress to stop the president. The whole thing can be very complicated.
The main parties are the Democratic Party and Republican Party. There are major Independent parties such as the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Constitution Party.
The legislative branch (Congress) is comprised of the Senate, with 100 members, and the House of Representatives, with 435 members. Each state gets two Senators, and they are elected for six-year terms. The elections are staggered so that every 2 years, 1/3 of the members are up for election. Members of the House are elected every two years and the amount of representatives is proportional to the population of the state, with each state guaranteed at least one representative. The number of representatives is reviewed after each census. After the 2010 census here are some numbers of representatives from a few states: Texas (36) California (53), Florida (27), Pennsylvania (18), New York (27), Mississippi (4), Delaware (1), New Jersey (12), North Dakota (1), West Virginia (3), and Maine (2).
I hope you aren’t yawning, I kept that really brief. So voters go to the polls and cast their vote – this is collectively known as the popular vote. In all states but two (Maine and Nebraska) ALL of the electoral votes for that state go with the popular vote. So if you live in California and the majority votes for candidate A, all 53 votes above would go towards that candidate. Your existence to the population is what gave the votes (based on the census, remember), so if the 20 electoral votes are based upon having 600,000 people in that state and 1/3 of the people don’t vote; you have given the people voting 1.5 votes towards the electoral vote. If ½ of the people decide not to vote, each person that votes, basically gets 2 votes. Considering that everyone that can vote is not registered, imagine how bad it is when 1/3 of the registered voters don’t vote. You may be giving someone who is nothing like you and disagrees with every issue you stand for 3 electoral votes toward deciding the President of the United States of America. Oh, and it’s not just the President that you should be concerned with. The President will appoint Supreme Court justices that can stay there for life. They will work on their agenda to make sure things on their platform get covered. There are many positions directly appointed by the president, and as mentioned above, during the Presidential election, 1/3 of the Senate is up for election, and members of congress. Depending on if people vote along their party or pick specific candidates, you might be granting one party a lot of control.
Close elections George W. Bush vs (2000), 271 vs 266 electoral votes; literally one state could make the difference. Woodrow Wilson vs (1916), 277 vs 254 electoral votes.
Unfortunately, we really have a two-party system. Independent running mates do not participate in the debates (most of the time) and some do not even appear on all the state ballots. And there are so many Independent parties, that it is hard for one to get leverage. So you end up having votes for a lot of different Independents. One day, maybe the 3rd party system would be more effective.
So that’s my take on the whole thing. I understand when people say “I don’t like either candidate” or “I don’t know who to vote for” but the truth is that you must pick someone or someone else will decide for you. While, I think it’s more effective to vote for one of the two major parties, you do have the option of voting for an Independent candidate.
To be blunt, it comes down to the this: Either the Democratic Candidate or the Republican Candidate is going to win the 2016 election. Your neutrality is not going to change anything. If you feel you are intelligent, why would you throw your vote away? Why let someone else decide for you? I understand the conflict, because you don’t want it to be “your” fault, but there has to be one you tolerate/prefer to the other. At this point in the game, it’s about pick the one you prefer. If this had been a year ago THEN you could have picked the best candidate for you, but it’s down to two. Either you pick or your neighbors select for you.
But if you don’t vote this election, do NOT complain about tax breaks, Healthcare, immigration reform, ISIS, terrorism, Police Brutality, the Civic Laws, Education, Supreme Court rules overturned or granted, Freedom of Speech, Right to Bear Arms, Cyber attacks or security, reproductive rights, religious freedom, stop and frisk, veterans rights, equal pay, paternity leave, and so many other important issues. It’s not just about the President.
Vote because we live in a country where you can. Vote because many died for us to have that right. Vote to start fixing the system.
If you are not registered check the deadline, TODAY is the last day for some: https://www.usa.gov/voter-registration-deadlines
Thanks for listening!