A Reason to Vote Even When You’re Voting Against My Interest
When someone says that they won’t vote, I can usually place them into one of two categories.
The first category breaks my heart. Often they are marginalized people who mean well but likely do not have all the information or understanding of what’s at stake. They’re too busy providing for their families to sit down and read up on policy proposals by one candidate or the other, who, very often, fail to deliver once they do assume their roles.
Then there’s the second category. Often they are young people who have grown up in privileged households, and honestly, they just haven’t had enough of a life experience to make up their mind about voting. They often iterate the voices they hear in their homes or schools, from their parents or peers. Often when I come across these people, I hope they’ll grow up and change their minds. Just like I did.
I’m not an activist. I do not go out there and ask people who they vote for or do not vote for. So yes, it is entirely possible that my personal experience is lacking and the people who do not vote go well beyond the two categories I mentioned above.
That said, when I read a certain article titled “Why I Won’t Vote” from someone whose name I’ve heard from my blogger friends (James Altucher), someone who has written multiple best-seller books, someone who apparently hangs out with smart people and is regarded as somewhat of an intellectual himself, I was taken back. He isn’t young. He doesn’t have to work a minimum pay job to provide for his kids. However you look at him, he’s a rich fellow with a Cornell degree who has big words for the people who listen to him. And many do listen to him.
So, while I’m not an activist, and we’re only days away from the election, consider this my little contribution to reach out to the undecided voters or those who have decided not to vote. I cannot change the minds of the likes of Altucher. Considering his standing in society, if his peers couldn’t change his mind, then there’s no way I could. But for the rest, here’s a little something.
The following points were taken directly from the article I linked above to pose a counter-argument.
“Are you qualified to vote?”
Altucher thinks most people shouldn’t vote because their votes are not based on educated decisions and based on hearsay instead.
It is curious that even though the title of [Altucher’s] article gives the impression that we’d learn why Altucher himself wouldn’t vote, this point (in his article) basically outlines why Altucher thinks nobody else should vote (unless he is suggesting that he is not qualified to vote.)
Regardless, he brings up some fine points, and with that in mind, I wish to give you (my readers) some things to think about so that you may educate yourself on various issues that will, directly or indirectly, have an impact on your life and your loved ones.
a) What are five or more differences in policies between Trump and Biden (excluding tax)?
- Climate — Trump walked out of the Paris climate accord, and he has no plans of any sort when it comes to climate change. I mean, the guy doesn’t even believe that climate change is real and often confuses climate with weather. On the contrary, on day one of his presidency, Biden will sign executive orders enacting policies to achieve zero-emissions and a clean-energy economy by no later than 2050. If the climate is a concern for you (and it should be a concern for you), you should take this seriously. If you’re a skeptic who doesn’t believe in a politician's words, I don’t blame you. But even so, consider under whose leadership you’ll have a better chance at addressing the climate issue. (You can read more about Biden-Harris’s planned climate initiatives here.)
- Immigration — Did you know that over 500 children who were separated from their parents during Trump’s inhuman family separation and zero-tolerance policy have yet to be reunited with their parents? Whether you agree with Trump’s stance on immigration and only want Norwegians to migrate to the US, or have a more inclusive and effective immigration policy under Biden, is up to you. However, I want you to understand that it is a big issue, and you should do your part in learning the key differences.
- Healthcare — Trump and his team have been trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act from the beginning of his presidency. They haven’t been able to for two key reasons: public pressure and their inability to develop a suitable alternative. On the other hand, Biden has proposed a plan that would allow all Americans a more affordable healthcare plan, which builds upon and expands the current Affordable Care Act. Personally, I would have liked to see free healthcare for all Americans, but even so, Biden’s plans are a significant step forward to a more progressive stance on healthcare (public health insurance option, a lowered Medicare eligibility age, Medicaid expansion, etc.)
- Abortion — Back in 2017, Trump supported a bill that would have banned abortion past 20 weeks. In case you’re still going on and on about the sanctity of life, do keep in mind that by banning abortion, you’re only sentencing a lot more mothers to death. Mona Chalabi did a wonderful illustration showing the maternal death rate directly related to the legalities of abortion (not in the US, but it is still relevant.) Take a look. With a more right-leaning supreme court now, it is that much more important that you contribute to establishing a United States government that will do its best to protect your rights to choose.
- LGBTQ rights — Do you remember Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military? This should tell you where he stands when it comes to LGBTQ rights. If this matters to you, you know who to vote for.
- Foreign Policy — This is number-six, but personally, it is important to me, so I wanted to share. Trump has backed out of the historic Iran deal, which only places the US in a more compromised situation with its allies. There are other things like supporting the Saudi-backed war on Yemen that I find repulsive.
There are plenty of other areas where the two candidates differ in their policy proposals. The five above are just a few of them that are personally important to me. An exhaustive list can be found in this Washington Post article.
Before I move on, I wish to mention one more thing. In Altucher’s article, when he asks these questions (the one above and a few more to follow), he also says to not look up the answers… why though?
Looking up answers to questions you do not know answers to is how a person becomes smarter and wiser. So please, by all means, if you do not know something, LOOK THEM UP!
OK, on to the next point now:
b) Name three laws signed by Trump you agree or disagree with.
Trump signed a shit ton of laws since he was sworn in as presidents do. Most regular folks don’t keep track of all of those. I mean, just in 2017, the guy signed almost a hundred or so laws.
Nobody’s keeping track. It is unfair of anyone to expect regular voters to know these.
But I’ll share a few executive orders signed by Trump that most people likely know/remember (that I personally disagree with).
- One of the first things Trump did as a newly appointed president of the United States was to sign an executive order aimed at reversing the Affordable Care Act that protects over 20 million Americans. Not much came of it because nobody could come up with a suitable alternative.
- Remember the Muslim ban?
- He signed a bunch of executive orders reversing the previous administration’s attempts for clean water and power.
Trump has signed many other executive orders that affect transgender folks, abortion rights, climate, and more. Please, do look them up.
c) What is a tariff?
So, I guess the point Altucher is making is that if you do not know what a tariff is, you shouldn’t vote? Even though Altucher urged you not to look them up, you really, really should! (What is he doing, trying to actively discourage people from educating themselves?) In fact, I’ll help you out by providing this link if you do not know what a tariff is. Education and information are never wasted.
How is this relevant to this election? Well, even if you do not know what a tariff is, you may remember reading about Trump’s trade war. The link I shared above should help you decide whether or not you agree with Trump’s stance on the matter and whether or not tariffs help the US.
If this is a big deal to you, please read up and learn more about the matter.
d) and f) What countries does the US have a military presence in, and which was the last war that the US entered?
If you do not know, look them up. Also relevant, how Trump discarded the US’ Kurdish allies in the Northern Syrian region, which by the way, the Kurds found out about via Twitter.
You may disagree with previous administrations’ decisions on war. I do too! But how this administration treated the Kurds speaks volumes about how another Trump term could affect the US’s standing with its foreign allies.
e) What part of Roe vs. Wade makes abortion legal?
Is Altucher suggesting that you are not fit to vote unless you have read the fine details of Roe vs. Wade?
What is this nonsense?
Anyhow, what you need to know is that back in 1969, a woman in Texas named Norma McCorvey (pseudonym Jane Roe) challenged the Texas law that considered abortion unconstitutional and illegal. Texas attorney general Henty Wade defended the anti-abortion law. (Hence, Roe vs. Wade.)
In 1973, this case went to the US Supreme Court, and the justices ruled (seven to two) that government doesn’t have the power to prohibit abortion, and thus, abortion was legalized.
So, yes, it’s an important matter if you’re a person who believes that the government shouldn’t have the right to question a woman’s decision regarding abortion. With a 6–3 conservative majority in the Supreme Course, a second Trump administration can prove literally “deadly” for women. Anyone saying otherwise does not understand the complexities of abortion or women’s health, physical and mental. So yeah, it’s kind of important.
To Altucher’s last question in this segment — “Most people can’t answer any of the above questions. Should they vote?” — my response is, they should educate themselves. Also, even if someone cannot define “tariff,” they are still very much allowed to vote if they so wish for it. (Also, why is Altucher not voting? Does he not know what a tariff is? Or what Roe vs. Wade is for that matter?)
“A vote now is a vote for polarization.”
A vote now is a vote for or against inhuman immigration policies, climate reform, re-establishing trust among foreign allies, making sure women’s rights to abortion are protected, LGBTQ rights are protected, electing a man who doesn’t believe in science or scientists, electing a man who publicly supports nationalism, is racist, is xenophobic, is a misogynist, lies significantly more than other politicians, is often unhinged, and much, much more.
“The lesser of two evils is still evil.”
The question is then, under whose government we the people can demand reform and get what we want?
In my self-interest, I’m inclined to suggest that everyone should vote for Biden because under his administration, I can see some of my self-interest coming to fruition or at least move towards the direction I want.
If you, my reader, in on the other side of the spectrum, then you have a chance to make that decision for your self-interest by voting for your preferred candidate.
No one person can ever make all the wrongs right for the people. We need to ask ourselves not who is perfect, but who will move our agendas — the people’s agendas — in the right direction. As a voter, you get to choose what “the right direction” means to you and then vote accordingly.
Even if your vote is against my self-interest or your neighbor’s self-interest, it’s fine because that is what democracy is. And one of the things that make American great is its democracy. By voting, you’re exercising your right as a citizen of this great democracy. Don’t take it lightly.
“Nobody really wants you to vote.”
I think I have already responded to this in the previous section, but just in case, I’ll say this — sure, everybody who wants you to vote really just wants you to vote for the candidate they like. It is part of the self-interest I mentioned before.
But you as a grown-ass person shouldn’t have to care about what other people want you to do. Vote because you believe in something. If you do not see a clear choice, then educate yourself. And if you still do not see a clear choice, then of course, as a citizen of this great democratic nation, you are within your rights to not vote.
But that doesn’t give you the right to say whether other people should or shouldn’t vote. Which, it appears, was the whole point of Altucher’s article titled “Why I Won’t Vote.”
“A none-vote is a vote in favor of more choices.”
Uhh… I’d very much like to respond, but he totally lost me on that one…
“It doesn’t matter.”
According to Altucher, “If you live in NY state, for instance, we already know which direction that state is going to go.”
So I guess he is suggesting that because other people are more responsible than he is, and they’re about to do their job, Altucher can just forget about voting because who cares? Everybody else is being a good citizen, so how much bad could one bad apple really do, eh?
Such a great argument!
“Does this mean you don’t care about society?”
Here Altucher goes into great detail about how he uses his platform to address the causes he cares about, such as racism. How he helped start a company that manufactures non-lethal weapons for law enforcement. Etc.
And yet, we have George Floyd dead, from a knee on his neck.
I don't even know what to say.
OK, I do know what to say. Bear with me here.
The government exists for a reason. They make the policies. No matter how much Altucher helps folks manufacture non-lethal weapons, nothing will change unless the government does something about it. And yes, only the government can do something to reverse systemic racism. It’s too much for one individual. It’s impossible.
The first electronic vehicle was designed in 1881, and yet, electric vehicles are still not sustainable because the infrastructure simply doesn’t exist. Individuals cannot do anything about it. Only the governments of the World can. That is why it is so important that we vote.
Will Biden make sweeping changes?
I doubt it, and it’s sad. But I know that his administration will decidedly do more than the alternative.
And the climate is really just one of the issues facing the Americans this election cycle.
You can decide not to vote because other, more responsible citizens are voting. Maybe you do not feel the urgency because none of this directly affects you. But that’s not a thoughtful response to why you’ve decided not to vote; it’s simply irresponsibility and ignorance.
So, have you decided not to vote? Then I urge you to think twice and really look at what’s at stake. If you’ve decided not to vote, then at least have the decency to say that you don’t give a shit instead of trying to come up with nonsensical arguments.
The better person you are, the better your family and community become. The better your community is, the more impact you have on the world, making the world a better place.
But the truth is, one person alone cannot really make a whole lot of differences. You can get away with not voting when the stakes are low. But this election cycle, the stakes are high. Really, really high. If you want the best for your family and community, saying it’s better not to vote’s not going to cut it whether you’re right-leaning, left-leaning, or moderates who just want to go on living their lives in peace.