I already know that this post is going to get a lot of negative comments like the religion one. And that's because this "every vote counts" dogma that everyone loves so much shares a lot with religion. It's a belief that's held true without a single bit of compelling evidence, and it's a strong belief.
But before I get into that, let's talk about some other things.
First, Obama won and I'm happy about that. I don't think that he's a superhero like a lot of people do. When I look at his positions I disagree with most of them. I disagree with most of McCain's positions as well.
But there are three reasons I was hoping Obama would win.
1. I try to stay clear of conspiracy theories, but I definitely fell into the camp that believed that votes were being hacked. This outcome means that I'm either wrong or that the hacking isn't as serious as some people think. I'm glad to know that the political process isn't as corrupt as I thought it was.
2. Obama is smart. When he's faced with a problem he consults with experts and makes a well thought out decision. I don't trust McCain to do the same, especially considering how much he's sold out to get his nomination (I liked him a lot in 2000).
3. The world at large loves Obama. I travel a lot and I think that Obama will do TONS to restore our image in the world.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised that he won. Logically I knew that it was the only reasonable outcome, but I had that niggling fear that the election would be rigged.
The other day I saw a sign that said "vote straight democratic". To me this is high idiocy.
I'm equally offended to be called a Republican or a Democrat. Know what I am? Someone who thinks for himself and makes up his own mind. People who follow their party blindly are idiots.
It would be a CRAZY coincidence if someone researched issues and agreed 100% with everything the democrats stand for. When someone says that they do, I assume that they are a sheep.
This blind faith to parties really troubles me. Even at the election party I was at, which was all democrats, they were like Pavlov dogs, booing any time a republican was on the screen and cheering whenever a democrat was there.
McCain gave his concession speech. He's not a great speaker, but I thought that his speech was pretty sincere and gracious. People at the party were booing him. And even at his own rally people were booing what he was saying because he was being so gracious to Obama.
Ridiculous and immature.
Anyway, Obama's here and hopefully some good will come of that.
Okay, now on to why I didn't vote.
First, the idea that "your vote counts'" is total garbage. It doesn't. I tried to find examples of really close elections, but couldn't find any presidential elections where a state was won by less than 6000 votes. I did find one school board vote where the winner won 1202 to 1201, so for small local offices, my ideas don't hold true necessarily.
"But Tynan, what if everyone thought like you and didn't vote?"
Well, that has nothing to do with the situation. If I don't vote I don't impact ANYONE else. Most of my closest friends voted, and if I can't affect them, who can I affect?
I'm not NEARLY arrogant enough to think that my influence extends far enough to affect anything in the election. You're going to vote or not whether I want you to or not. But still, I admit that it's conceivable that I have more influence than the average voter, so I didn't write this until after the election.
If I DID think that I could influence the vote, by the way, I would be voting early, having a camera following me, and making sure everyone knew.
Masses of people voting matter. One vote doesn't.
I trust the numbers. Look at fivethirtyeight.com. As of this writing they predicted EVERY single state correctly. If I call in and say, "Hey... just want to let you know that I'm voting for Obama," is that going to change their predictions? Nope.
Texas, where I'm registered to vote, has McCain up by 10%. There is NO way that my vote is going to affect that. Even if EVERY SINGLE Texan I knew and every single Texan who read my blog magically decided to vote like me, that still wouldn't register in the polls.
Not to mention that Texas doesn't even matter to Obama. Not a single pollster thought that Texas mattered in the race.
If I was in a serious battleground state in a close race I might consider voting. If I had a huge audience I would consider voting. If I could log in and vote instantly online, I'd vote.
As things stand now it is an unqualified waste of time.
Voting is the illusion that you're doing something without actually having to do anything at all. This isn't apathy, this is realism. When Ron Paul was in the running way back then I spent hours working on a project, talking to political consultants and video producers. It didn't amount to anything, but there was the potential. One vote has no potential.
I know that there are local issues too, and that realistically they can have just as big an effect on local citizens as the national election. Going to vote for those sorts of things could be worthwhile in some cases, but again, the odds of one vote mattering on an issue I actually care strongly about and am educated on are next to none.
Obama won, even without my vote. Proof that at least in this instance, my vote didn't matter and yours didn't either.
EDIT: Check out my friend Dova's post about this. He beat me by a day on it and addressed some good points I left out. Read it here.
I like to bet. For those of you who have read the story about how I was a professional gambler, this is obvious. What I don't like to do is exercise. At one point in my life, these two activities joined to provide an interesting story.
I have a friend named Hayden. He likes to bet me. For a while we had a running string of bets, and I was down overall because I failed to get 10x his score in a Tony Hawk competition. At one point I was one of the top 10 Tony Hawk players in the world. That lasted for about 5 minutes until someone from Japan beat my score.
Hayden and I sat across from my kitchen table.
It was a few years ago, and I walked into the dining hall and sat with my friends. Pretty routine day. I was a freshman, and my first year was winding down. I was one month into my new frat and life was good.
My friend, a class senator in student government, had a piece of paper laying on the table. I picked it up and read the big title "Run for Student Government", and I immediately joked that I was dropping everything to run for President. I was just joking of course; I had seen a bunch of other Baylor freshmen run for various positions earlier in the year during freshmen elections, and I had no interest in running.
But then my friend said bluntly, "No seriously you should totally do it. The current president is an idiot, and the senators don't like him. We need someone smart." (Note I think pretty highly of the other guy, these aren't my words) That got me thinking that it would be cool to put up a bunch of posters with my name on them around campus. See, I realized nobody gave a shit about it, and every campaign I had seen didn't take advantage of that fact.