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Friday, February 3, 2023

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Abstainers Can’t Be Complainers

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“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato

After an election, there is always the typical bellyaching of the defeated. It is never flattering, but it is to be expected, especially in a hard-fought campaign. There is also, at times, the victor who perhaps was never taught how to win, another unflattering example of our current moral malaise.

There is a third post-Election Day moaner that deserves an extra ounce of ridicule— he is the one who failed to vote, but complains all the same.

There are many all across the political spectrum who, for many reasons, declined to vote. Perhaps they are unimpressed by the candidates, or not voting is their choice or a plethora of other reasons. Some amongst this group, realistically, do not have a candidate supporting their policies. Yet, some reasonably represented people refuse to vote and continue to complain.

They will use margins of victory in a mathematical sophistry designed to justify the futility of voting – the only cause they publicly champion. Perhaps they hate the status quo, but only hate the idea of having nothing to complain about more.

The old ‘no time to vote’ excuse loses more validity with each election cycle’s propensity to allow more opportunities to vote. And as surprise elections create close calls and upsets around the country, more candidates are becoming viable.

For those who may feel unrepresented by the two major parties, one must be worse than the other. One must present with it more challenges, threats or violations of one’s liberties than the other. With such divergent views, one party must align more with you than the other.

And with this division comes a choice— a sacred duty come election season. A duty preserved time and time again by the armed forces. A duty we exercise, lest we forget those that endured. A duty, once more, that millions are simply not exercising.

It would be more productive to cast a blank ballot than no ballot at all, because at least your frustration could be calculated along with your peers. But that is rarely the case.

While it is not necessary to be jovial, doing nothing about the status quo – resigning yourself when alternatives exist – results in forfeiture from complaining. Scores of people who desired an outcome in the previous election did not vote, and then joined the army of keyboard warriors.

This is no way to behave in a republic. It is no way to change minds.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.