Your vote doesn’t count, but you should still do it.
The U.S. election is here, we will soon decide who leads us for the next four years. Four years, that’s the standard length for a military service contract. It didn’t seem like a long time, I mean four years out of what, on average eighty or so that we get to live? Yet the last four have felt like decades and it reminds me that while your vote doesn’t count, you should still do it.
One person, one vote. It shouldn’t need to be more complex than that, right? If you currently think that’s how voting works, well I wouldn’t blame you since the US educational system is, in a word, fucked. However, thanks to racism (yes, really) depending on where you live, you may have more sway over the election than someone else. Does that sound like a democracy to you?
The United States, “land of the free!” * Cue distant bald eagle screech * the place I call home. Truly the world is our home, but that’s not the point. The point is that like a lot of things in this world the U.S. was founded on a few basic principles, one of them of course was racism. No, it wasn’t morally acceptable when the U.S. was formed (really)(no, really). That’s a myth and even if it were true, why keep the system they created if you acknowledge it’s racist now? Oh that’s white.
We’ve already had a discussion on the electoral college here along with gerrymandering. However, like all history if we don’t learn from it we’re doomed to repeat it. The electoral college was founded because of racism. I think that sums it up and we’ll get into why I know that and why you (should) know that too, but first let’s talk about the voting process here in the states.
One person, one vote… but not quite. When you cast your vote for president you aren’t ACTUALLY voting for president. Instead you’re voting for someone to vote for you for president. Sound convoluted? Well that’s because it is and that’s kind of the point. In school I was taught the less true version of the formation of the electoral college, that the founding fathers didn’t trust the American people to make the right choices. If that were true, well * waves vaguely at the last four years * that’s the less “controversial” take on the electoral college. Sort of like they put disclaimers when talking about evolution people don’t want you to know the truth.
Thankfully the truth is… out there? The history of the electoral college comes from slavery. To put it as bluntly and succinctly as possible if you were black, you were 3/5 a person when it came to representation (more). When the “end” of slavery happened (quotes because let’s be real, it never ended it just changed forms, like this) black people still didn’t have the right to vote and white people were up in arms. See the north and south had roughly the same amount of people, but about a third of the people living in the south just happen to be black. As James Madison put it,
There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections.– James Madison
By using the popular vote the south would suddenly not have as much say as the north, which is how the electoral college came into existence (more). The system is horribly effective too. In both 2000 and 2016 the president of the United States was NOT selected based on the popular vote, instead it was decided by the electoral college (notice they are both republican…). This is why states are won or lost when we hear voting tallies. Each state is represented by a certain number of electors, one for each U.S. senator and representative, and three additional electors representing the District of Columbia (since they have no representation).
So all hope is lost, we should just stay home? Nope, vote. That’s right, the only way out of the system is to vote. Although voting isn’t enough, we need to protest and fight. We need to make noise and elect people who will dismantle the electoral college so that once and for all, one vote will truly equal one vote. If your vote didn’t matter the people in charge wouldn’t be making it so difficult for you to use your power. They wouldn’t create electoral colleges or poll taxes, laws preventing certain groups from voting, or limiting ways you can vote.
While your vote doesn’t have the power it should, you should never confuse that with no power at all. Each vote has power and no matter what you believe or who you want to be president, you should cast your vote. Make a plan, do the work, and get to the ballot box. It can’t get better without your voice. You may just be one person, but if we all come together, they can’t ignore us.
In short, get out and vote. You’re our only hope!