Many of us voted; many of us didn't. There's an assumption that at least if you vote, you have a right to complain, but those who refuse to participate in a process that feels problematic from the onset have right to not waste their effort endorsing a system that they believe generates false or manufactured hope. Others voted for third party believing that by doing so, they supported change, and so they too have the right to complain about whoever was elected. But here's my new standard and challenge for all who read this. No one has a right to complain if all you have done is vote or not voted. I'm going to go with Henry David Thoreau on this one and one of my favorite points that he makes:
"I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote."
In my travels, discussions, and trips down the rabbit hole that is the internet, I have yet to find anyone who is anywhere near happy that this is how things have happened; to say the least, most of us are angered and disappointed by the whole process. This is a theme repeated election after election, probably since time immemorial. And it has to do with today, the day after the election. The vast majority of us sit back and decide that "I've done my job; I voted." But voting is literally the least thing you can do in a democratic republic such as ours. As Thoreau points out, it's merely reaffirming the majority but not necessarily addressing what it is that got so many of us up in arms (sometimes, literally, in this election season).
I know that many of us are just exhausted. We've been assaulted with ads, news, faux-news, memes, misinformation, accusations, conspiracies, and just about everything in the 24+ month campaign season. So many of us have been waiting for it to be over for months and have felt deep anxiety around so much of it. We want to be free of it for now; to breathe, to relax, to just return to some level of normality. But that won't happen. The election cycle will continue to get longer; these theatrics will continue to get more ridiculous; the inability to find actual truth and quality news will continue to diminish. This will continue and it will continue because today is November 9th and we are all deciding we can finally stop caring.
So I implore all of us to not stop today. To get up and find a course of action to take that will make us all better as nation.
So what needs changing? Lots--that's for sure. I'm going to steer clear of what I generally think of the bigger issues that I see as that which needs addressing because they are larger issues that we are all likely to vehemently disagree (as the election bears out). But I want to highlight or find some ways of improving what it is that we're doing when we participate in a democratic republic. Maybe you have ideas or maybe you know things are wrong but are unsure of which issues resonate most with your or even where to start. This collection of links provides some ideas about what to change and some even show you how or at least direct you towards resources to get you started.
- 4 Simple Ways to Improve Voting
- 10 ideas to improve voting, elections
- 10 Ways to Improve American Electoral Process
- Change campaign finance laws (many places would appreciate the help).
- Educate yourself about the presidential election process to determine where you think the weakest points are.
- How do we improve the election process?
- Improving Elections
- Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s Report and Recommendations
- Run for office and change the system from within.
Some of my favorites from that list that I'm hoping to pursue in some way include:
These's two from 10 Ways to Improve American Electoral Process
“Establish an ad hoc committee to monitor the quality of public opinion polls taken and reported by newspapers, television stations and networks. This committee would have no sanctioning power over the media, but it would issue a report when it found poll results to be misinterpreted.”
"Add a new line to the election ballot that says "Favors a New Election." If that option gets more votes than any candidate on the ballot, a new election with new candidates would be ordered."This gem from the How do we imrpove the election process?
“Replace the debates with something less confrontational and more informative. For example, an interview conducted by an impartial interviewer who allows the candidate to give a complete answer but doesn't allow him/her to dodge the question.”4 Simple Ways to Improve Voting had this great idea:
“Revamp voter registration. The system relies heavily on pen-and-paper forms, which lead to typos and errors in registration records. Adding more electronic options would help get more voters on the rolls and keep them there by increasing accuracy and efficiency. For instance, online registration allows eligible citizens to register -- and to more easily check and update their records -- through a secure online portal. New York offers online registration to those with a Department of Motor Vehicles identification, but that should be expanded to include more eligible citizens. If voters can bank and shop online, it makes no sense that they cannot register to vote online, too.”I also liked this idea from 10 ideas to improve voting, elections
“Open up voting: A few commenters complained about the party system, and one suggested allowing people to vote for more than one candidate.”These are some of the ideas that I came across and it's a quick leap from there to finding out how to help those organizations that are involved in these efforts or to start your own organization to pursue this. I'd love to hear from people in the comments about other ways to help or change the system. I'm happy to do follow-up posts with additional concepts, ideas, and resources.
If you need ways to get politically involved, there are a plenty of suggestions and methods for big and small actions. You just need to be willing to start. Here are two resources to help think about ways to get more politically involved (essentially a beginner's guide and a massive listing of ideas)
- A beginners' guide to getting politically involved
- The Activist’s Handbook: 1000 Ways to Politically and Socially Activate Your Life
Today, November 9th is a start, not a finish for anyone who wants to change the system. You can't start with the end result (the election), you start with what comes before. So you have 4 years to change it. You may be exhausted but if you want to actually change it, you need to keep going. If you want more out of this country, you gotta get out and do something, today.
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.