The Honking Goose

something to honk about

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

Originally posted on November 6, 2014

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

  1. michelle213norton
    October 27, 2016

    Some would argue that not voting puts you in the position to blame the voters for the turnout! (Well I didn’t vote that @^$hole in!)

    Like

  2. Elyse
    October 26, 2016

    I’m a voting maniac. I work at the polls, and feel really strongly that everybody needs to pay attention and vote. But even I don’t say this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2016

      I think I could support a system similar to what Australia has where everyone is required to vote. It seems like just getting more people to participate would increase positive changes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Holly
    October 26, 2016

    There are plenty of law-abiding, tax-paying, legal resident aliens who can’t vote. Because they are following the rules and care about what happens to the community/state/country they live and work in without access to that right is why I get mad at the blanket “no vote, no say” argument. I always tell my friend perhaps they should just not pay property taxes in protest (don’t worry, they never listen to me)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Melanie
      October 26, 2016

      Legal resident aliens have choices, though. They might wish to go through the process to become a citizen. But they may not have intention to stay here long-term, OR they may not wish to become a citizen in the US because their home country may stipulate they cannot have dual citizenship. If they do not become a citizen, they can still help with campaigns, and help others who wish to become cotizens get through the red tape to do so. I DO think we should make it a little easier to become a citizen so long as a person is not a violent criminal. But a legal resident alien is making an active choice when they maintain that status for whatever reason, and our Constitution and federal laws have restrictions about voters being US citizens in order to help prevent foreign interests from manipulating our elections. This is a direct result and reaction to what would sometimes happen in countries throughout Europe at the time that the American Colonies were becoming an independent nation. If I choose to live in another country with no intention of becoming a citizen, I wouldn’t expect to vote there. But taxes paid are not relevant to my vote. Taxes don’t buy me a ticket to cast a ballot. Taxes pay for services we all use, like roads and bridges and police forces and emergency personnel and public schools, regardless of citizenship. Legal resident aliens may use these services as much as I do, hence they pay taxes as I do.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2016

      That is an interesting point that I hadn’t even considered. Thank you for sharing that perspective.

      Like

  4. Melanie
    October 26, 2016

    So, I disagree for several reasons. First off, if you don’t vote, you are voluntarily removing your own voice, opinion, values, and priorities from the conversation. Second, while voting by any one person has limited effect, it still has an effect that is, in whatever small way, part of the overall process of deciding who represents your voice, opinion, values, and priorities when it comes time for legislation and policy to be made. But the key is to know who the candidates are in all of the races for which you are eligible to cast a vote. If you only vote in Presidential elections, you’re removing your voice, opinion, values, and priorities from being part of which candidates ever make it that far in the process. Every politician starts somewhere. Many Presidential candidates served as US Senators or Representatives. Before that, many of those Senators and Reps served as governors, mayors, or other state- and local-level officials. Your neighbor running for school board may someday run for mayor or state representative. Your state rep may run for Congress. Your local judge (the elected variety, I mean) may someday build an impressive record and garner the attention of the President, and become a potential choice for Supreme Court Justice. ALL elections matter; I argue that the lowest-level positions are where most politicians get their start, and those folks end up in the positions of most actual power–Congress. Congress declares war, and Congress decides how federal dollars are spent. That’s a hugely powerful position, and not one to be entered into lightly. If you elect NOT to vote, you are saying that you have no opinion (or don’t care) about who ends up in these more-powerful-than-the-President positions. So, please, use that vote.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2016

      I do vote. And I agree with you that we do have the potential to impact important decisions with our vote. I think we can have the most impact in local elections; so I really feel empowered when I’m voting on local issues.

      As you point out, “voting by any one person has limited effect”. But that effect is further diminished or even taken away by the system of electoral colleges. If Presidential elections were decided by popular vote, then I might alter my opinion, but alas, they are not.

      All I’m saying is that “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” is a fallacy. Complain away people, complain away…

      Like

    • MrJohnson
      October 26, 2016

      Sometimes your options for who to vote for are limited to constipation or diarrhea. You don’t like either of them but the only reason you have to vote is because you’re sick of having one of them for 4 years. My vote is like my heart, I don’t just give it away to anybody.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thehonkinggoose
        October 26, 2016

        I feel pretty good about voting for Jill Stein in the upcoming election. I know she doesn’t have a chance of beating Clinton or Trump, but there are other good reasons for voting. As I understand it, when a political party gets 5% of the votes, they become eligible for federal election funds. Which means they can run a stronger campaign next time and have more political influence.

        Liked by 1 person

    • vvuureoc
      October 26, 2016

      A portion of the none-voters do not care about what is happening in government agreed.
      BUT
      There is a portion that simply did not find a party or candidate they agree with enough.
      Withholding their vote is the only way they can encourage change in the current paties / candidates or formation of new ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thehonkinggoose
        October 26, 2016

        Do people withhold their vote with that intent? I don’t see how that would work. I figured most people that don’t vote are either too fed up with the system, or content enough with the status quo.

        Like

  5. TheOriginalPhoenix
    October 26, 2016

    You actually make an excellent point of view and I agree with you now. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fast eddy edwards
    October 26, 2016

    Reblogged this on Black Market Media Canada.

    Like

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This entry was posted on October 26, 2016 by in Politics, Unsolicited Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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