When I was about seven, my dad was explaining the presidential election to me. This was the 1988 election, and my father was planning to vote for Michael Dukakis. So he probably could have voted for President Mighty Mouse, and it would have mattered as much. When I asked why he would bother voting for a man who would most definitely not win, he explained calmly, “Because I want that son of a bitch to know I didn’t vote for him.” In the intervening years, I chalked that statement up to my father’s overblown-ego and sense of self-importance. But now that Trump is president, I got you, Dad. I got you.
Which is also why this message will always bear repeating.
I live in the second most populous city in Illinois, and our recent mayoral primary garnered 9,389 votes in total. That’s under five percent of the city’s citizens. And in our defense, all four candidates are sane, competent, and have largely the same positions. It’s more about small differences than anything else. So maybe the good people of Aurora felt they’d be happy with any of the candidates and decided to stay home. And decided that since the mayor is a good, competent person, we don’t need to monitor their work that closely. We don’t need to know about day-to-day operations because City Hall’s got this.
Only we don’t vote to only make sure that we’ve got good, competent people running over government. V for Vendetta is a terrible movie, but they were right about the government being afraid of its citizens. Jason Chaffetz should dread facing his town hall meetings because he’s a fuck up. Marco Rubio should have to publicly acknowledge that he won’t hold a public meeting because he’s a coward. Local Rep. Randy Hultgren (‘sup, St. Charles?) should feel like an asshole when he locks himself in his office, refusing to meet with his constituents, because they’re more than ready to meet with him. Everyone who has gotten used to having an unengaged electorate unconcerned with government affairs should be terrified of the new microscope we’ve put them under. And the only way to make sure they all know we’re watching is by voting for every single thing every single time. We vote to remind our elected officials, “I didn’t vote for you, you son of a bitch.”