I’ve long heard it said that the American who chooses not to vote gives up the right to complain about the state of the union. There was a time—a time when I believed I was voting for one candidate over another and not just against the other candidate—when I believed that. However, I’ve recently come to consider the power of the non-vote.
Consider the message that voting for today’s political candidate sends the establishment in Washington. Frankly, does the typical voter believe that one candidate is better, or different, than any other candidate? I daresay most voters vote on issues more than on integrity or morals, and more on looks and charisma than on issues. And the winning candidate understands that he doesn’t have to believe the promises he makes to voters, or make good on them. He just has to convince the voter he believes them and that he will make good on them.
Casting a vote today sends the message that the voter believes in the two-party system, and that they believe in the candidate for whom they are voting. By voting, we give our two-thumbs up approval of the gridlock in Washington, that we endorse the petty squabbles between parties, and that we don’t expect solutions.
President Obama recently said, “There is something wrong with our politics.”
And he’s right. When Democrat would rather stick it to Republican, and vice versa, than work together to do what’s right for America—for the people who elected them—then something is indeed seriously wrong with our politics, and continuing to vote for corrupt candidates who spend their days taking money from special interest groups tells the establishment that America has hope and confidence in our political system.
But what if they held an election and no one voted?
I think it’s time we sent a different message, a demand for real change in politics.
I think the way business is conducted in Washington today would change greatly if just a few things were changed, as American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Warren Buffett suggested during a recent interview with CNBC:
- Pass a law that makes all sitting members of Congress ineligible for reelection should the national deficit reach more than three percent of GDP.
- No tenure/no pension. A Congress person collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.
- Congress (past, present and future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund should be immediately moved to the Social Security system. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
- Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
- Congress can no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lesser of Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 3%.
- Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
- Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
- All contracts with past and present Congress persons are void, effective January 1, 2012. The American people did not make this contract with Congress persons. Congress persons made all these contracts for themselves.
- If voting is a right, then serving in Congress is an honor, not a career! The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators; therefore, legislators should serve their term(s) and return to work.
Until I see real change in Washington, I refuse to give my stamp of approval on the current dysfunctional system by voting.