The Honking Goose

something to honk about

the fallacy of: if you don’t vote, you can’t complain

With the election this week and all the talk about it, I’ve been exposed multiple times to the erroneous statement that some people love to make: “If you don’t vote in the election, you can’t complain about politics in this nation.” WTF?

Let me first qualify what I’m about to say with this: I did vote in the election on Tuesday.

your vote counts button

The conviction that if someone doesn’t vote, they don’t deserve to complain is logically unsound. I don’t even begin to understand why people persist in this idiotic belief. Does voting = voice being heard? No. Does voice being heard = giving up the right to complain? No. Therefore it is a logical fallacy.

Is there some other connecting factor that I haven’t considered? One that somehow makes the statement true? If you think so, please comment and let me know, because I can’t imagine what it could be.

Furthermore: Can our vote force corporations to be held accountable for bankrupting the public trust? Can our vote eliminate the income gap between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor? Can our vote prevent environmental destruction of massive proportions? Can our vote stop our military from killing innocent people abroad?

No. No. No. and No.

rainforest clearcut in Brazil

this sucks! will voting change that?

Those are all political and social concerns that we should absolutely complain about regardless of whether or not we feel empowered to vote in an election. And then, when we are finished complaining, we should actively attempt to create positive change.

Voting is a right and a privilege, but it is not the be all and end of all of social and political action. If only people could admit that, then maybe our nation could begin to save itself from idiocracy.

If you agree, I want to hear from you. If you don’t agree I really want to hear from you. Honk at me!

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75 comments on “the fallacy of: if you don’t vote, you can’t complain

  1. Ellen Hawley
    November 27, 2016

    So many people have stopped voting because they feel it’s a meaningless exercise. I don’t agree with them, but I sure do understand why they feel that way. So finding other ways to complain? You bet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 27, 2016

      I can see both sides: people can be empowered by voting OR feel that it doesn’t have a very great impact. Both are true, in a way.

      Like

  2. kerbey
    November 10, 2016

    Maybe you should just complain to yourself–or limit it to a 24 hr period or within your inner circle. But you have to accept loss. Your (not yours per se, but one’s) side is not always going to win. Some people know how to be civil and accept defeat, and some people take to the streets to block a downtown with every color of flag but the American one. I voted–but not for our Scylla and Charybdis choices–and I am hopeful and optimistic, not scared like so many. I suppose you can vote and then complain, but then you need to have a reality check and accept that the liberal media and Hollywood elite don’t speak for those folks more concerned with trying to pay bills and get doctor referrals than icebergs melting and which Frankengender gets to pee in which restroom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 10, 2016

      I have been thinking today very much about how divisive these anti-Trump-POTUS rallies are. The people that voted him did so in large part because they felt marginalized by the mainstream progressive agenda. To further discredit them by protesting their chosen representative just furthers the IDEA of division and differences. It does nothing to find common ground.

      I’m not saying that people don’t have a right to protest, they do. They have a right to be heard too. Just where my head has been at today…

      Liked by 1 person

      • kerbey
        November 10, 2016

        Precisely! It’s saying, “Everyone who voted for him is a racist, misogynistic idiot, and their votes shouldn’t count.” Which makes the marginalized feel yet more defensive–about their non-progressive views, their faiths, their traditions, etc. Like they say, we have to get behind the pilot of the aircraft (even if we hate him) bc he’s the one flying.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. that little voice
    November 5, 2016

    What a treat to read your posts and the lively discussions. Welcome to that little voice and thanks for the blog follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 10, 2016

      Hey, thanks, I appreciate it. The lively discussions in the comments section is my favorite part about what I’m trying to do here at the Honking Goose. Thanks for noticing!

      Like

  4. grevisangel73
    October 28, 2016

    Honkinggoose, thanks for following my blog, I am now following yours, and I am really impressed by the very first post I read concerning voting. I agree with you about that statement “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain”. I have never understood why people say that. I thought I was the only one that felt that way. Your argument is spot on. I will be voting too, but only because I think Trump is insane. I don’t see why it matters if you vote or not, you’re still a citizen, and have an opinion, a voice, and if you choose not to vote, that right should apply.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 28, 2016

      I’m glad you found something here that you agree with. And if you ever find something here you disagree with, I’m totally open to that too. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      • grevisangel73
        October 28, 2016

        Thanks, if everyone had your attitude the world would be a different and better place. So many people are hostile if you don’t think or live the the same way as they do, they don’t want to have a conversation and listen to the opposing view. They wouldn’t even consider it, they are very narrow minded.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lori
    October 27, 2016

    The analogy I have always heard is that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about who is elected. This makes perfect sense to me. However, we still have freedom of speech which many people are confused by. Yes, you have the freedom to speak, but that does not require anyone to hear or listen to what you have to say.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 27, 2016

      So true. And the media industry gets to buy the rights to be heard, whether it is telling the truth, spreading lies, or just confusing the issues.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. latskojerry
    October 27, 2016

    It seems as though the more democracy is diminished the more voting we get to do without really having any effect. I vote, but I don’t expect much out of it. Only real organizing, boycotting, and demonstrating works but then they marginalize you or, if you’re really effective, they kill you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tails Around the Ranch
    October 25, 2016

    Thank ou for swinging by the “Ranch” and for the follow. We πŸ’™ visitors, especially ones that make uprights think. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mr. Militant Negro
    October 23, 2016

    While I fully understand your thoughts & opinions on this blog post subject, I disagree. It’s like complaining about that loud ass noise you hear from your car engine every time you accelerate…you step on the gas pedal and there’s that damn noise. Now unless you take the automobile into somebody’s car repair shop, or fix it yourself, the noise continues.

    Voting is the auto mechanic’s shop, or you fixing your car yourself. The negative harmful issues we face as a nation, will never fix themselves, much like that car I mentioned above. Voting has never fixed all the problems USA faces but, like the car, if issues/problems are not fixed AND allowed to pile up…..as my grandfather used to tell me…you gon hafta throw dem cars away boy.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 25, 2016

      I wouldn’t be opposed to a rule similar to what Australia has where everyone is required to vote. But at the same time, when the voting citizens are crucially misinformed by a controlled mass media, they are not making informed decisions. So what good does that do?

      And consider the long term plans/goals set by the ruling elite. I don’t know what those plans are, no one does, they won’t ever tell us. And we won’t ever get to vote that up or down. Goals of crucial importance to our nation that voting cannot effect. I reserve the right to complain about that whether I vote or not.

      Like

  9. Bryan Wood
    May 9, 2015

    I’m a little late to this, but I’ll post anyways. I hate politics. I trust very little involving them. However, in the last presidential election I decided I would give voting a go. I didn’t like Romney and I didn’t like Obama. Despite being told a vote for anybody besides Romney was a vote for Obama, I did a write-in vote for Ron Paul (because I wanted to). I then found out that write-ins didn’t count in my county even though it was an option on the ballet. Now I’m not stupid. Write-ins don’t really count because it’s a broken system and a third party would never win in it as it is now, but adding my vote to the count would have at least made it feel like I did something. Instead my vote literally did not count. I was and still am very disenfranchised with the way our government works vs. the way I believe it is meant to or supposed to work.

    My decision to no longer vote is my “vote” against the system in general. In my opinion it makes more sense that if you vote for a candidate, that candidate wins, and he is a horrible (insert title of office here), then you have less ground to stand on when trying to complain. You still have the right, but it’s not my fault for not voting when I believe either choice is bad, it’s yours (in the generally sense) for choosing somebody because he was the “lesser evil”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2016

      Hey, speaking of being late to things… Just read your comment and I really appreciate it.

      I don’t blame anyone for the way they vote. It’s confusing and complicated to start with, then add to that the fact that groups with lots of money are constantly out there spreading misinformation about the candidates and issues we citizens are voting on. Its a wonder anyone gets anything right ever.

      Like

  10. vvuureoc
    November 24, 2014

    Because of where I grew up and live voting has always been important to me

    My best friend at the time was not allowed in the same school when I started. Two years of my life was wasted because of National Service and a classmate was jailed for 3 years because he was a conscientious objector and tragically died in an accident shortly after being released.

    In every election I voted against the party/government and finally the country changed.

    I doubt very much that my 1 vote made a difference but my country’s history has taught me that extremists are the people that vote most regularly and are the first to express enforce their opinions and that the majority must take steps to ensure that they are kept in check

    Like

  11. dbp49
    November 11, 2014

    I have always believed, and I will stick to it until I die, if an individual has no understanding of the various platforms on which the different candidates and parties stand, and if they have no interest in politics at the day-to-day level, then I would be quite happy to see them forego their privilege of voting. I would never attempt to tell them they couldn’t vote if they chose to do so, but I certainly wouldn’t vilify them for making what I see as a very responsible decision if they should choose to opt out of the voting process. It just seems to me that voting is better served if it is kept the province of those among us who have taken the time from their lives to actually learn about what’s happening in the political arena. After all, if my water pipes burst, even though he/she has every right to call him/herself a plumber, I’m not likely to see my problem solved by a man/woman who has no idea what a pipe-wrench is used for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 11, 2014

      I agree. Well said.

      Like

    • Rii the Wordsmith
      November 12, 2014

      This is exactly why I don’t vote. I intend on educating myself. Then I don’t manage to do so. Then I don’t feel qualified to vote – which I’m really not.
      ‘Course my political complaints usually have little to do with who’s in charge and more to do with things that have little to do with voting so I don’t see why anyone should revoke my right to complain anyway.

      Like

  12. wiseandlovelyme
    November 11, 2014

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you. Your voting rights have absolutely nothing to do with how you feel about politics, but everything to do with the folks that currently sit in those seats. Forget the party lines for a second. Search the character of the candidates. Is this a humanitarian, will he or she be good for my state, my district. Voting is about making a difference in this country. People vote! People died so woman and minorities could vote. It’s the people who decide the government. “We the People”. You have to hold onto that. You should vote to keep our country from shutting down. You should vote so our elderly don’t suffer. Do you know the effects of this country being shut down? Our military will take the biggest jab from this. If we disappoint, disrupt any part of that branch of government, we are screwed and we wont have a government to vote against. President Obama is in the white house because American citizens put him there. If they didn’t want him there he would’ve been gone after 4 years. 2016 is around the corner VOTE to make a difference. Don’t complain,VOTE because you can. Thank you for this post thehonkinggoose πŸ™‚ and thks for following me!

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 11, 2014

      How long has it been since voting made a real impact? And if the issues that we are interesting in impacting are not on the ballot, why vote?

      At least if someone is complaining, it means they are paying attention and they care. To me that is way better than not noticing and not caring.

      Like

      • wiseandlovelyme
        November 11, 2014

        Votes do make a real impact whether good or bad. What will the complaining do besides turn citizens off from voting. How will the vote impact if not cast? I can agree it’s all frustrating to see our government back and forth on issues, but voting is our right, the one thing these politicians can’t take from us. Voting can make a difference if exercised in the right manner. Great conversation! Lets agree to disagree Lady πŸ™‚

        Like

        • dbp49
          November 11, 2014

          So you think that a bunch of people who have no idea who they are voting for, or what those strangers they are casting those votes in favor of, stand for or against, are going to end up bringing about a better country…exactly how? I don’t want to hear about how it’s their “right” to do so, because so is burping, but unless the person who is voting has some idea who, or what, they are voting for, then the burp at least, has far less chance of bringing about a national disaster. I’m not suggesting we refuse to let anyone vote who wishes to do so, I am only saying we should not be criticizing those who responsibly exercise their right NOT to vote due to having a lack of knowledge, thus admitting to an inability to make an informed choice.

          Like

          • wiseandlovelyme
            November 12, 2014

            Hi DBP49,
            No that is not what I think, far from my thoughts. The negative thought does not consume me, it interest me. You are correct, it is your VOTE and your CHOICE. But…what’s wrong with researching the candidate your voting for, instead of letting the media dictate your thoughts and decision? This would support your lack of knowledge. Everybody in government is a stranger until you walk up to him and shake his hand, go visit his platform , his website, his history, send a letter requesting his plan for the country. I’m just saying why not pick the best candidate for your communities need. why not find a way to get involved instead of diminishing the process. If the government were to take all our voting rights away, this melting pot would melt for sure. I respectfully disagree πŸ™‚

            Like

            • thehonkinggoose
              November 12, 2014

              Sure, we can research the candidates ourselves, assuming we find enough hours in the day to do so. But what about issues that are political, but are not on the ballot? What if none of the candidates platforms resonate with our values and our priorities? THEN can we not vote and still complain?

              Like

            • wiseandlovelyme
              November 12, 2014

              You sure can! You can vote and not complain and still none of the candidates values and priorities will resonate with yours. However, the voice of the community can be heard. Government does not notice complaining and non-voting, they expect that. I’m just saying how about choose the best option for your needs. We will never be truly satisfied with a candidate, but there are choices…I don’t believe dismissing the vote should be one of them.

              Like

  13. Cathy the Bagg Lady
    November 9, 2014

    While the statement appears to be erroneous I disagree on a personal note. If you don’t bother to “do your civic responsibility” don’t bother me with your opinions is my stance! The worst reason I heard for not voting this past election was “I lost my ballot” (we live in Oregon where we can mail-in or drop-off our ballots). That is the lousiest excuse since, “I can’t make a decision based on those 30 second commercials”. Really?! My soapbox is closed..I apologize for my craziness. πŸ™‚

    I popped over to read your blog because I noticed you read one of mine. I really like your content and am now following your blog. Thank you for your follow, I appreciate all of my readers! Also, I am looking forward to reading & sharing many more posts in the future.

    Ta Ta for now, Cathy the Bagg Lady

    my creative writing blog is: https://crandeescribbles.wordpress.com

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 9, 2014

      I still don’t agree. Civic responsibility my arse. The politicians are mostly self-serving bribe-whores who sell their favor to the highest bidder. Forgive people if they don’t want to vote within those parameters. I still vote, but I don’t know what good it does most of the time.

      Anyway, agree to disagree. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

      • Cathy the Bagg Lady
        November 9, 2014

        Gotcha, I do agree to disagree. But all said and done You Still Vote! Your voice is heard, whether they listen or not.

        Like

        • Karen Call
          March 7, 2016

          I don’t think you understand the point at all.

          Voting for a criminal cartel who have dubbed themselves “the U.S. government, Incorporated” is still voting for a criminal cartel.

          Taking someone’s money by gunpoint is called “legalized theft”: you have no choice in how your money is used, how much is taken, when it is taken, or whether you want it taken at all.

          Why keep believing in an illusion of freedom by voting for robbers who destroy the environment and other nations in your name?

          That’s why I don’t vote for anyone to represent my name anymore. This year, for the first time.

          I will vote for decisions by consensus decision making (minus one or two) within a local, Vegan ecovillage community whose members agree upon the same spiritual, ethical values.

          Like

  14. Grumpa Joe
    November 8, 2014

    I think you missed the point of the adage. It refers to complaining about the government and the people that run it. Otherwise you are correct.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 8, 2014

      That is exactly the point I am referring to. And I strongly feel that people should complain, whether they have voted or not, about the government and the people that run it because those people are doing a sucky job. I think you know that. And complaining about it at least means you care, which is better than not giving a rats ass.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Glynis Jolly
    November 7, 2014

    I definitely agree with you. I’m past complaining though. It’s so obvious that the common man/woman is not going to be heard. The wind is changing for this country whether anyone will see it or not.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 7, 2014

      Yeah, I’m with you on being past complaining. I have better things to do with my energy (well, most of the time). πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. Creative Blog Mom
    November 7, 2014

    Reblogged this on Creative Blog Mom and commented:
    Thank you to this blogger for expressing what I have such a hard time expressing when people wonder why I don’t like to vote.

    Like

  17. Creative Blog Mom
    November 7, 2014

    Thank goodness! Finally someone said what I have been unable to express! I completely agree and thank you!

    Like

  18. hya21
    November 7, 2014

    I don’t cotton to that idea either. Whoever’s there – whether I helped put them there or not should be subject to criticism, but I vote when I think one candidate can make a difference, and I don’t when I think neither of them will.

    Like

  19. helen meikle's scribblefest
    November 7, 2014

    I agree with almost everything you say – but I still think it’s important to vote. To me, it’s about taking responsibility for the democratic process – or making the bastards accountable, if you like. Reminding them they’re only there because we put them there, and we can remove them again if they represent their own interests instead of ours. And reminding ourselves as well, that we get what we vote for, so it’s up to us take that responsibility.
    But I’m Australian, and I guess the political system is different. For a start, voting is compulsory (yes, I know the arguments against it, but I still agree with it), and secondly, campaign funds are strictly controlled. Maybe this gives voters more power than they have in the US.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 7, 2014

      If making bastards accountable was the real result of voting, I would be a lot more enthusiastic about it. But maybe it is different over there in Australia. I sense that a majority of voters here in the U.S. are hopelessly misinformed.

      Like

  20. mjmsprt40
    November 6, 2014

    I never noticed that not voting ever stopped anybody from complaining. Some people are really good at it, and I doubt that whether they voted or not would make any difference.

    One other fallacy that bothers me is the idea that if you don’t vote either Democrat or Republican, you’ve wasted your vote. I’m more worried about the folk that mindlessly vote party-line than I would be about anybody who votes their conscience.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 7, 2014

      That fallacy was especially irksome when third party voters were blamed for taking the Presidency from Al Gore and handing it to George Bush. A choice that wasn’t even decided by the voters, but by the Supreme Court, anyway. And if either Democrats or Republicans had wanted those third party votes, it was on them to earn them with policy, not on the voters to give up their rights and hand their vote to a party that didn’t represent them.

      It seems like third party voters may have been scared off by those events, which is a shame. Third parties are probably our best chance at bringing reason to a broken system.

      Like

  21. crazysnake513
    November 6, 2014

    I’ve heard this all my life, I myself don’t never vote, even though I’m registered too. I don’t complain either about the things going on, I’m not even a political person. Seeing how the candidates put each other down, and bicker is laughable at best to me.

    All that pretty much sums up why I don’t vote. I do get a kick out of people that do vote though. No one ever seems to be happy, if this side wins, the other side isn’t happy, and the same if its flipped around. But really, I can’t say much, I’m still very young, so what do I know? Haha, I enjoyed this post.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 7, 2014

      The whole thing seems like such a farce doesn’t it? I don’t know if it has always been that way. But back when minorities and women didn’t have the right to vote, the system was deficient in other ways. We’ve got a long way to go towards an ideal system.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Tory Thames
    November 6, 2014

    I watched the video from divorcedandsingleblog. It’s interesting view point. The questions I always wonder: If he’s truly about equality in pay (or however he put it), then does the people that work for him, make just as much as him? If he wants to make it where we share the wealthy, then does he set the example? I’ve always wondered about that when people start talking that way. Other than that, I like your view point.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 7, 2014

      It is hard not to do, but I don’t want to judge people based on how wealthy they are and what they choose to do with it. Mainly because I wouldn’t want the tables turned on me. πŸ™‚

      Like

      • Tory Thames
        November 7, 2014

        Me either. If I work hard for my money, then I don’t want to just give it away to make it even. Ouch! Not judging, just dang curious whenever someone starts talking that way. I’ve might of killed off a couple lives with my curiosity. πŸ™‚ I did like how we should make a statement that it must change without voting, but that would be very hard for me. I’m all about voting.

        Like

  23. divorcedandsingleblog
    November 6, 2014

    I have this much to say about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YR4CseY9pk

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 6, 2014

      After listening to my rant last night, my husband put on that very video. And we watched the whole thing even though we have both seen it before. Brand is so intelligent and coherent and quick with his answers. I really admire him.

      Like

      • divorcedandsingleblog
        November 6, 2014

        I love the guy. Sometimes he uses words I don’t understand, but that makes him even more admirable in my eyes.

        Like

        • thehonkinggoose
          November 6, 2014

          He’s not bad to look at either. πŸ˜‰

          Like

          • divorcedandsingleblog
            November 6, 2014

            Agree! I think now he looks much better than acouple of years back with his funny hair and skinny jeans.
            I wish I could find a guy who talks like him. I think his brain is as sexy as his outside.

            Liked by 1 person

  24. MrJohnson
    November 6, 2014

    I think there was a time when voting was much more important. The ones that give you grief for not voting today are just on their moral high horse.

    People don’t vote because they don’t believe there are any issues that are important enough to vote for. I tell people my vote is like my heart..I don’t just give it away to anyone.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 6, 2014

      That’s a good philosophy. Probably won’t satisfy the naysayers, but that’s their problem.

      Like

  25. Kristin
    November 6, 2014

    ha. ain’t gonna lie. i wrote it on Tuesday. and i stand by it. i believe you have to work within the process (as sucky and corrupt as it may be). but i also agree that you shouldn’t stop there. real change comes from working outside the traditional process, too, and speaking out about, supporting, campaigning for causes and beliefs via methods outside the typical slow political machinations and BS.

    i guess, though, that the saying really comes from people being fed up with other people who are all talk and no action — complainers who have an opinion about everything, but don’t really stand for or get involved in anything. they certainly can complain, but (i still think πŸ˜‰ ) they just shouldn’t.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 6, 2014

      I’m more worried about how many people go along with the status quo and don’t question anything than I am with people complaining about that same status quo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kristin
        November 6, 2014

        true. the people who complain are at least questioning!

        Like

  26. John
    November 6, 2014

    You are wading into hot water with politics – I avoid politics like the plague these days and will not even watch or listen to the so-called news these days. I did vote in our elections but do not feel as though it really makes a hill of beans difference.

    More so with the presidential elections. The president is no more than Pinocchio on strings. The reigns of power are held by others lurking in the shadows. Who knows who that might be… And both parties are today too much alike for my very much right-wing conservative beliefs.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 6, 2014

      It doesn’t feel hot yet. Maybe because I’m not taking on one side of the other, but the general idea of voting at all.

      Like

  27. NotAPunkRocker
    November 6, 2014

    I did a write up on those who may want to vote but can’t. I do agree that there are other ways to try to influence change, through speech, actions, petition, accountability, etc. Putting a voice behind the decision.

    Voting for some people is like those who only go to Mass on Easter and Christmas Eve: obligation until the next time, but no real dedication or conviction behind it.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      November 6, 2014

      I don’t blame them. It’s hard to be dedicated about something that can easily feel ineffective and pointless.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Invisible Mikey
    November 6, 2014

    Oh, I agree. You don’t waive your First Amendment rights either by voting or by not voting. The Constitution specifies the right to vote and the right to express political dissension separately from each other. There’s no cause and effect relationship between the two.

    Like

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2014 by in Unsolicited Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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