Is a decision not to vote always irresponsible?

Please help me. I am wracked by this question as I churn over the events of the past four years of my life and that of my country. Neither Republican nor Democrat, and as a rule refusing to be pigeon-holed by any such categories, I did nonetheless register and vote for my first time ever four years ago, at the age of 36.

My guy won.

Now 40 years old and having seen the things we’ve all lain witness to, including the 9/11 attacks, the Iraqi invasion that followed, and the fiasco of bad intelligence used to justify it, I am left liking neither of the two front-running candidates for office.

My question is: Is abstention from voting always an abdication of our duty as citizens in a democratic republic?


Do you mean the popular vote or the decision rendered by the Supreme Court?

I would think that the first responsibility you would have as a voter in a representative democracy is to become informed about the candidates.

Say if Stalin was running against Hitler, would your “duty” really benefit anyone if you didn’t bother to fully consider both candidates rationally?

So, lets say you are informed and that, as a result, there is no candidate for which you feel comfortable voting for… if this is your conscience I would argue that it would be your duty to abstain from voting. If you feel that neither candidate is worthy of your support, and if this is truly a Democracy, your abstention would be your vote… think of it as a vote for a lack of confidence.

You could always look into a third party, I would as well if I felt as you do.

Welcome back btw.

Vote for kerry to give the Idealist four years…I mean we gave Bush a shot didn’t we?

Thx for the welcome back! I assure you I never really “left” and there were NEVER bad feelings with anyone or any such thing. ILP is just intellectually taxing at times. LOL… I took a powder so my head wouldn’t explode!

You’re quite right, LOL.

My guy just happened to get the løøt. Commander in Thief, et cetera, et cetera. :sunglasses:

• • •

Let’s cover some more of my problem in detail.

[size=184]¤[/size] I am disillusioned by the entire Iraqi invasion thing.

[size=184]¤[/size] I do not really TRUST any politician running for the office of President of the United States. Someone said recently on a radio talkshow that, in order to be able to run for a high office in this country, you HAVE to be able to lie with a straight face “and mean it.” That sums my misgivings pretty damned well.

[size=184]¤[/size] I do not like the campaign that I have seen Kerry run. He has run a negative campaign in a time of war; a time during which we have troops in harm’s way. It (the Iraqi difficulties) is simply too obvious a weak point for his oppenent in the race. Because he has used it, I just see it as him capitalizing on an easy target.

[size=184]¤[/size] I am not the most educated citizen on the candidates and the issues. I have personal challenges that take a higher priority within my own personal sphere. But be that as it may (IOW, “justified” or not)–for this reason, I feel that in some ways casting a vote might well be more irresponsible than responsible!

[size=184]¤[/size] And last but far from least. George Bush guested for about 10 minutes on the Rush Limbaugh show today! My Lord, how can you take a candidate seriously who would do that?

My biggest beef with Limbaugh is the lone fact that he takes such relish in helping to divide the country. It’s “us” versus the Dems allll the way, baby. Guys like Limbaugh may stand for what they stand for, but they do nothing toward erasing dichotomous (black & black; us versus them) thinking in our society and in our culture–and I just believe that less dichotomy and more tolerance and appreciation of diversity is what we really need more than anything.

I strongly suspect that the best candidate will always lie somewhere in between the opposing two who want in. An ideological, moral amalgamation and reconciliation of the very best qualities cherished by both liberals and conservatives, because folks, the world is just not a simple divide down the middle!

The “liberals” aren’t all wrong; the Dittoheads sure as hell aren’t all wrong–but our current ways of thinking in the U.S. insists that one of the two is true. Hence, we are a politically, oft ideologically divided nation.

I guess I’m just turned off to politics as usual (“as usual” meaning as waged over the past fifty years). With everyone willing to cheat, and everyone willing to lie, how can you possibly make a vote in this day and age in excellent confidence of what you’re doing?

See… I can’t. I would have to go in and choose among the least likely to be bad for the country. And I HATE that notion.

Yes, to think of my abstention itself as “my vote” is appealing, GTC. I just fear it is also a cop-out. After all, someone’s got to get in there and keep those wheels of democracy turning … and who in hell said it would all be clear and easy? SOMEONE’S got to get their hands dirty. Why should I get a pass?

Hmm. I could go back and forth (with myself…) like this all night. LOL! I really make for such good conversation. LOL!

:wink: John

Not voting in the US, but I tend to think its pretty simple:

If you don’t vote when you could have voted against someone who you can safely asume will narrow sympathies, make everyday peoples lives worse, cause death etc…

Well that is wrong. Your vote may not make a difference but it is like hand-wringing on wether or not to help someone.

EVEN if the other guy would ALSO do these things, but SLIGHTLY less, then you still should make that possible… any improvement is an improvement.

If something may slightly improve something or prevent sopmething slightly worse then you do it, especialy when the cost is so low… walking to a booth.

On another note:

US politics is so [more than most] absurd and I can see why people don’t vote… I catch plenty of CNN, Fox [lol-news!] and european/NZ coverage of the election and no-one there seems to talk about ANYTHING but personality and politics and terrorism and “character” etc etc etc…
when you could be talking about, I don’t know, crazy things like welfare and healthcare and labour rights… your crap standards of living [yeah I know about the appliances and GDP and stuff… I’m talking about people not being able to afford university or medical care etc…]

Lol… Ignore the rant…

To answer your question based on the assumptions laced in your post, generally a null vote is against the role of a citizen in a democratic republic. I say ‘generally’ because a degree of impracticality for every citizen to vote on every issue is assumed. The terms where I have used your assumptions are vote, citizen, and democractic republic.

Really, may I ask what about? Although all I know about the world is mediated by, let me say, ideas, Iraq is not surprising.

Why trust the radio talkshow?

The Unites States has had several war fronts existing since its rise that likely will persist until its fall. You have an underlying inkling of requiring censorship in war (though I add this note to divert some of the strong Western connotations to that word ‘censorship’). I fail to see why you specify Kerry’s negative (by your post) campaign.

You assume other citizens are more educated, and thus, more responsible voters.

I’m not familiar with Limbaugh. I have no new insight into the “us versus them” mentality, though I suspect from observation, that certain ideas exploit existing insecurities in a population, and it grows from there.

John, a rep. Democracy, as a system, is legitimate so long as it follows its obligations and offers viable candidates. You say you have a duty to this system… perhaps. If so, I submit that the system also has a duty to you. If you think both candidate A and candidate B would be bad for this country… follow your conscience and do not vote for either one. You are not obligated to a political system that does not fulfill its obligations to you. Well least not in democracies anyway. If this was a totalitarian state, then yeah, you really would have a duty to perform without any reasonable expectations of having the system do the same. But they still let us vote, or choose not to.

Just because the state doesnt seem to be fulfulling some idealist obligation to you as “political consumer” does not relinquish you of your responsibility to other human beings.

You have a tiny opportunity to weigh in at some tiny level on a state that routinely kills thousands of people around the world, often for next to no reason, certainly not for reasons that meet the interests of %99 of the world.

To not take that small opportunity is to encourage the destruction of your democracy and running of your nation by un-accountable elites.

It’s that simple. Just because the state isnt suitably entertaining you or making your choice suitably clear (although I think it would be obvious who NOT to vote for) or delivering candidates who you respect, is no reason to encourage suffering.

Democracy ISN’T a passive contractual agreement between ruler and ruled, (they deliver, you then vote) it is an active process of checks and ballances against unbridled power… that’s WHY they try and make the choice so unattractive and narrow and make the level of political discourse so revolting and irrelevant… they don’t want the bulk of the population to vote because the bulk of the population want different things from the state to the people who run it.

Yeah, I always let that whole “inalienable rights” rhetoric sway me.

Bottom line John, wait for the debates to see if you still feel undecided. If you notice, both campaigns are centered on ‘why you shouldn’t vote for the other guy’, probably because neither has much substance to stand on. Either someone will advance a positive position or it will be back to the same old same old.

Dude. He’s Monday-morning quarterbacking this guy. He’s critiquing much of Bush’s handling of the 9/11 attack from the luxury of hindsight. What is difficult to grasp here?

Now there’s a good point – a very good point. LOL I shudder to think of the ‘qualifications’ possessed by some of my fellow citizens who WILL be voting!

I expressed that I was disillusioned over invading Iraq and apparition replied, “Really, may I ask what about? Although all I know about the world is mediated by, let me say, ideas, Iraq is not surprising.” I am sorry, but your phrasing is just too confusing for me to extrapolate a question therefrom. I apologize.


most of the world, however, knew it was a bad idea. It was only through systematic distortion of peoples understandings that anyone really thought it was a good idea… except for those, of course, who had been gunning for it for years for various reasons.

It’s a tacky suggestion, but I suggest some Chomsky as a springboard to an exploration of the facts…

it’s not a case of hindsight, its a case of exploitation and manipulation for elite interests… which is the case of course with a great deal of politics…

GCT, your comments have been of great help, I appreciate it much.

Rob_9942 dunno why but, I get the feeling that… You just don’t seem to like us very much. :laughing: And you definitely don’t care for Mr. Don’t Fuck With Texas. Well I’m sorry Rob, but you see it’s just a different world for my country now. We didn’t start this thing; this weird band of Islamic “idealists” brought it straight to us. They served clear notice one bright September morning that they and their crusade on world conversion did NOT exclude the U.S.A. …And this group demonstrated that it observed no boundaries and were morally capable of anything. Women, children, innocents - no consequence. No quarter. No rules. A country could almost be forgiven for being heavy-handed and over-reaching in response.


Don’t really see it as an “us” “them” thing… but you might have your own views on violence… that’s a seperate discussion.

As for:

I wasnt only talking about events post 911, which is probably the point I think… but this isnt the place to discuss world politics/modern history…

Although I suggest you explore it… there’s is plenty of info out there…

Best wishes.

Well, personally I think if everyone who didnt want to vote voted for a third party maybe the republican/democrat hold on office will be broken. I believe that if you dont vote, you dont have the right to be upset over whichever person ends up in office. Although…if maybe everyone who was undecided (which seem to be the majority this election year) just stayed home on election day in protest perhaps that would send a sign to both parties that there needs to be a shake up in the world of politics. Or maybe thats too idealistic of me?

Either way, if you do vote I would sayvote for the person who will benefit you the most. Both candidates do not seem to hold the secret for a new and better America, so I guess it is time to be a bit selfish.

Rob & apparition, I just noticed you two are brand spankin’ new to the board. Accept my apologies for the gruffness and please accept a warm welcome to ILP!

Truth is, I had just come away from from listening to Zell Miller at the RNC last night, and I was pumped! :evilfun:

You see, I believe that if everyone was as weak, wobbly, and muddied in their convictions as I have demonstrated on here? my country wouldn’t last another decade. We’d be over-frickin’-run. Consider it a personal inner struggle.

My strong language and stong feelings aren’t directed toward others per se.


I have a general question for anyone. What do you see as the difference between Bush and Kerry?

What I meant was that the United States has been at war since its beginning, so why isolate Kerry’s choice of campaign with the present assortment of war fronts without recalling other candidates’ choices of campaigns in earlier U.S. history?

I forget I should be more careful in when I use the word ‘educated’. By it I hardly mean formal schooling or other such qualifications. Though I do not use it as a general rule, at times I hold qualifications against the so-called educated.

No I apologize then. I wanted to know what you feel disillusioned about. I personally do not feel disillusioned because I rarely find an event surprising.

One misled the nation to start an unjust war, the other one didn’t. At this point that is enough for me.

Hm, my mistake, there are of course obvious circumstantial differences like one is a President and the other is not. I mean in political thought, what do you see as the differences between Bush and Kerry?

I just realized there is an existing thread on these two…

bush didn’t mislead the us. he went off bad information. slight difference. it was also the same information that kerry had access to when he supported going into iraq. i’m not in support for kerry pertaining to military just because he was associated with jane fonda, my father was a veitnam vet.

prior to the Secretary of State appearing before the U.N to make his plea for war, I had already been assigned the task of writing a paper on the situation with Iraq. Amongst everything else that I found, a simple google search revealed a plethora of news articles dealing with questionable, fabricated, and in one case, outright forged evidence used in support for the war. If a college student can take five minutes to find good evidence, surely the most powerful man in the world has access to the same. Either that, or some of his advisors had to have lied to him outright. Any of them been publicly reprimanded for that yet? Won’t many of the people responsible for feeding our commander in chief bad info still be amongst his advisors and cabinet, if he were to be re elected?

Are we so cycnical now that something that leads to the deaths of thousands of people can simply be excused by an, “oh he didn’t know… whoopsie”.

I kind of expect the president to be more accountable then that. And yes, unless he was living under a rock the entire time or he really is THAT moronic, he had to of chosen to continue the charade. And that is if I assume the very best. Worst case, he knew the truth all along… that being the same truth that was known before hand publicly and that which was revealed after the fact.