Election Day: If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain!

In case you missed the memo, today is Election Day.

Now, as a teacher, I love Election Day because it gets me out of school, but Election Day also annoys the crap out of me. Not because I don’t like voting. I love voting; I hate the people who can’t be bothered to vote.

That’s right. If you have no intention of voting, you’re worse than a Springsteen-hating, Delaware-living, ostrich-owning, Cowboys fan to me.

Admittedly, there are quite a few things about my generation that I just don’t understand. Rap music does nothing for me. Nor does any of the pop/dance/house stuff that you hear at any bar or club. (With the exception of Lady Gaga. I do like her. But I’ll address that another day.) I don’t get the obsession with Family Guy, when The Simpsons is CLEARLY the better show. I think Crocs are too ugly to have any redeeming value and that anyone who wears them shouldn’t be allowed to pick out their own clothes.

But I REALLY don’t understand the people who express their disillusionment with the government by NOT doing anything about it.

Granted, I come from a rather politically charged family. My parents met at a riot protesting the Vietnam War, my father started bringing me to work the polls with him when I was eight, and my brother and I used to have a pool going to figure out when our dad and his Republican cousin (there’s a black sheep in every family, I guess) would start fighting at family functions.

A picture my dad took at the UMD riot the day my parents met (5/5/71)

But I enjoy voting. I don’t wear the little “I voted/Yo voté” sticker (because I don’t wear stickers of any kind. Ever. Especially not nametags.), but I DO enjoy being a part of the political process. I remember being so excited for my first election, even though it wasn’t a presidential one, when I was 18. Current Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler was running for Montgomery County State’s Attorney and he was at my elementary school when I went to vote, and he loved that I was so enthusiastic about getting to vote for the first time.

My first presidential election was slightly less exciting. Well, okay, it was MORE exciting, until I got home from voting, and my boyfriend at the time (who was a Republican—I know, I know, we all do stupid stuff when we’re young and rebelling against our parents) told me that he had cancelled out my vote for Al Gore by voting for George W. Bush, which took some of the wind out of my sails. Needless to say, he and I didn’t last all that long.

In general though, I know that the midterm elections aren’t as exciting as the presidential election. And I know that it’s DEFINITELY not as exciting as the 2008 election was. You don’t exactly see me wearing a sparkly O’Malley shirt this year, despite the fact that I think he’s a WAY better choice than Ehrlich.

But this election is important, and not just to the future of education in Maryland. What worries me is that a lot of people are saying they’re disappointed in Obama and his whole administration and are therefore not voting.

Unlike a certain Tea Party candidate, Obama never claimed to be a witch. He doesn’t have magical powers. I know everyone thought he’d get into office and wave a magic wand and fix all the damage that was done during the past eight years, but I hate to break it to you, unless you elect Harry Potter, that’s never going to happen.

The economic crisis of the last couple years is still the result of the previous administration. If you voted for Obama, it’s even MORE important that you go out and vote in this election to keep the party that will support what he wants to do in power so that he CAN deliver the points he campaigned on.

I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday, which restored SOME of my faith in people to understand what’s really important and stand up for it.

All rally photos taken by my dad, Jordan Goodman

But while the signs were funny and the rally was a really good time (and I liked the zombie pope), I think the main point that I’m trying to make is that if you want change, the only way to get it is to DO something. Voting may not always feel like you’re making that much of a difference, but you really are. And that’s what we’re doing here in this country. Our ancestors (some more distant than others) came here for freedom, be it of religion, speech, or political beliefs. And yes, technically, you CAN demonstrate your freedom by choosing to abstain from voting. But don’t not vote because you’re lazy or apathetic.

Because if you don’t vote for one of those reasons, I don’t want to hear it when you complain about the government.

If you vote, you can complain all you want.

Unless you’re a Republican. In which case, you’re still ALLOWED to complain if you voted. I just don’t want to hear it.