It’s popular (and easy) to pick on Trump voters. It isn’t effective in our efforts to improve the country, but I mainly understand it when it is from the perspective of politically active people. I have a much bigger problem with people who don’t vote at all. There is just no logic to disengaging with the process entirely, and it is unpatriotic.
Why do people ignore voting? There are way too many reasons, with different levels of validity. The worst type of nonvoter, though, is the one that claims to be doing it as a political statement. These are the people who think that non-voting sends a message to politicians that we want better politicians. It’s kind of like they think it is a boycott, with one major gap: in a boycott, the other party actually experiences problems associated with that boycott.
For example, if a bunch of people stopped buying things from Amazon in an attempt to encourage different employment practices, it’s possible for Amazon to experience a loss of profit or internet reach. That, I would call real impact. On the other hand, what happens if a bunch of people decide not to vote? Does a politician think, “oh less people are voting so I’m going to give them what they want or leave politics”? No; they don’t need the volume of votes like a company needs volume of sales. They need the better percentage of the people who DO vote.
So if your local politician knows/thinks that you are going to be a non-voter, they will spend more time courting people who are willing to influence the process. Sure, the candidates and parties do “get out the vote” projects to get people to vote. But by the time they are doing those efforts, they have already decided their political objectives. In order to reduce the harm that the political system does to you, you need to at least be a voter.
This doesn’t mean you need to vote for a major party candidate, but it does mean you need to participate in some way. You need to show that you are willing to come to the polls if you expect a politician to address your demands. If you are still with me to this point, you may be wondering, “well doesn’t it make more sense that you choose the lesser evil of the main parties?” That’s not my opinion.
A vote for an independent party or candidate is still a vote. It still says “I am taking the time to do this even though the options are trash.” It is something more than the non-vote, which is honestly more often laziness than real protest.
There is an obvious reason that republicans consider expanded voting to be a power-grab. It’s the same reason that drives progressive candidates to get more people to vote because voting is the place for the will of the people. I haven’t seen a lot of situations where a lack of willpower is considered a strength. Vote.