The Value of Voting

Does voting make any difference? Is it worth the trouble?

The answer depends upon you. If you and enough other people vote for someone who has pledged to represent your interests and to work with your opposition to solve problems, then, yes, absolutely your vote will make a difference.

Politicians are highly tuned to what voters want. If they learn that lots of voters are prioritizing problem-solving, then that’s what they will focus on too. These days, it is really easy to organize people to do that – we can can use any of a variety of social media to reach people.

Why is there so much grid-lock now? Sadly, for the last few decades, too many of us have been voting for political grand-standers and loyalists instead of problem-solvers. Why? Some of us believe that our side can somehow dominate government, so we don’t see the need to elect politicians willing to work with the other side. Is that realistic?

The historical record shows it has been difficult for one party to dominate for long. There were 156 years since the end of the civil war in 1865. In that time, the two major parties managed to dominate the Presidency, the House, and the Senate (a “trifecta”) only eight times each. The longest time that one party held a trifecta was 14 years: 1897-1911 for the Republican Party and 1933-1947 for the Democratic Party. All other periods on one-party dominance were much shorter. It is also rare for one party to dominate the majority of states. In this light, if you do have some problems that need solving, your best bet is to vote for politicians who are willing to do that work for you.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, please consider doing so. Check out these two links if you need help or want to learn more about your options in the pandemic:

To learn more about our system of government, try our short courses.

Photo credit: Marc Serota, Reuters.

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