Listen. I want you to vote.
I won't make that pandering "It doesn't matter who you vote for" speech, because, geez, c'mon. It does matter.
But not voting at all is not an option. You need to vote.
I know a lot of folks are undecided, and getting mocked in the media for it. But from what I see, a lot of people have honest problems with both candidates.
I can relate. I do too. But in my opinion, voting is still critical, for a few reasons. But there's one big one: if you don't vote, how does that help?
Seriously, staying home and not voting doesn't help at all, and in fact hurts. Why? Because, for one thing, I bet you don't hate everything about both candidates. A lot of people frame it as the lesser of two evils, but I think it's more positive to consider it as the better of the two choices.
Looking over the choices, there must be one who edges out the other, for whatever issues matter to you. That matters. It truly does. And not voting hurts you, directly. If you don't vote, you have no say in what the government can do for or with or to you. You're letting other people make that decision for you. And I think you probably know better what you want than other people do.
Don't vote, and you are freely allowing others to declare how much tax you should pay, where that money goes, whether or not you have access to health care, how women are treated (whether through pay, health benefits, or a myriad of other ways), and even whether science or nonsense gets taught in schools.
Another argument I hear is that one vote doesn't count. Lets be honest: in many places, that's probably true. But not everywhere, and it can be hard to tell just where. Remember, in 2000, the entire national election boiled down to a few hundred votes in Florida. A few hundred.
I look at the swing states, places that can swing the election and where it's hard to tell who's ahead, and I wonder. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida... all these states have big universities, with student populations in the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. A single freshman class at one of those schools could swing this entire election.
Still think your vote doesn't count?
I know a lot of younger folks read my blog. You have way more riding on this election than I do. Maybe you're looking for a job, or have one already. How much tax do you think is fair to pay? What rights will you have with your employer? What kind of health insurance will you get? It's not sexy to think about health insurance, but it's going to suck mightily when you break your leg or you need to get your wisdom teeth out, and you find out it's going to be a cash only out-of-pocket transaction.
Also, you'll have to live in the future longer than I will. What's that future going to be like? One where global warming slams us every summer with stronger hurricanes because the government ignored the scientists? One where your kids are taught the Earth is 6000 years old? One where you can't get contraception?
That's what your vote means.
On these issues - and a whole passel more - the two major candidates are worlds apart. These issues impact you, now, today. Health care, taxes, women's rights, corporate law, international policy, gay marriage, climate change... do even a modicum of research and you'll see the differences shining like a beacon. And we may have a Supreme Court justice retire in the next four years; think about how the two candidates differ on whom they would nominate for that.
And if you like a third party candidate, then great! Go vote for him or her! But don't complain that it's a waste of time because they can't win. It's a certainty they can't if you don't vote for them, and if enough people vote for them they may start to get noticed.
For me, a lot of the decisions I make when I vote boil down to how the candidate faces science, faces reality - which are in many ways the same thing. Maybe you agree. And that brings up a final major point: this election is not just to decide who will be President. We're voting for Congress as well, and these are the people who make the laws. Congress has the lowest public approval rating they've had in decades, and for good reason. But you know what can be done? You can throw out the ones who won't face reality!
Look up who's who in your state and district and see what your Congresscritters think. I'll guarantee there are huge differences between candidates for Congress. And the majority party picks who runs the committees - for example, the House Science Committee, where several of the sitting members are as blatantly antiscience as anyone I've ever seen.
Do you love science as much as I do? You can vote them out!
I'll also note that in local elections there will be people running for school board. Think that's not important? Think again. This election is about far more than electing a President. It could mean four more years of science obstructionism, four years we cannot afford to lose.
I'm not a single issue voter, and I hope you aren't either. But then, reality isn't a single issue. Antiscience affects global warming legislation, textbooks and class curricula, women's rights, technology development, medical research, energy production, religious incursions on the First Amendment, and much more. Our very economy is largely based on science and engineering. It's not too much to ask for people in power to understand that.
In fact, it's a rock bottom requirement.
So speaking of bottoms, get off yours. The only way you can waste your vote is by not casting one.