With the election mere days away, I’m pretty darn tired of being bombarded by all the “Go Vote!” campaigns. Though I have several reasons why, the primary issue I have is that if you aren’t going to the polls without lots of peer pressure and expensive campaigns, you shouldn’t be voting in the first place.
I know by the title of this post it sounds like I’m anti-voting, but I’m not. I actually put a bit of time studying before hitting the polls. I look up the ballot, go to each candidate’s website, check out their Facebook pages, and take a few notes. About 90% of the time I lean right, but that doesn’t keep me from crawling all over the Independent’s and Democrat’s agendas with an open mind.
Even with several hours worth of homework in hand, my vote only counts as one, and any buffoon can cancel my vote out because he or she likes the way a politician’s name sounds, or because they saw more signs for that candidate on the way in.
When I really think about the nature of the whole process, it’s downright irritating. Once I vote, I forget all about it and don’t give it another thought. It’s comforting for me to know that, for the most part, it’s not nearly important as it’s cracked up to be.
Personal Responsibility Trumps Government Policies
Nine times out of ten, new politicians don’t have much (if any) impact on my personal life. And what impact they do have is tiny and minute compared to the personal control that I have of myself.
Part of this comes from privilege, and part of this comes from personal responsibility.
Before I start this, I just want to acknowledge that though I have the ability to take control of my life, others may not be able to do so quite as easily.
If you’re solidly middle class or above, this does pertain to you, and you do have more control than many others. I am privileged in the ways that I don’t rely on social security or some form of government assistance, such as SNAP, WIC, EBT, public housing, Medicare, or Medicaid. I know that inherently means that government decisions affect me far less than the 21.3% of the population that does rely on these programs.
I also have the privilege of having a savings account, which allows me a little more financial freedom than the 57% of Americans who have less than $1000 in savings.
I have more control because I take personal responsibility in what happens to me, and what I do about it.
I cannot control how much the government decides to tax me. But I can control my spending habits as a
I cannot control health insurance coverage. But I can eat healthy, run on my treadmill, use common sense (stay away from all drugs and alcohol, drive the speed limit, and avoid activities that are commonly preceded by “hold my beer”). I have also used alternative private
I cannot control auto insurance. But I can drive cheap old vehicles, follow the law, and self insure for damage on top of a simple liability coverage policy.
I cannot control public education. But I can take responsibility in what I teach and do for my future children. I will teach them about various religions, global affairs, general sex education, basic math, the importance of reading, personal finance, people skills and good etiquette. If I have any major issues with the curriculum, I can always speak directly with teachers, join the PTA, or even homeschool.
I cannot control trade deals, tariffs, or how private companies conduct their business. But I can choose to shop ethically and American-made.
I cannot control how the government chooses to spend my tax money. But I can volunteer my time, money, and resources to causes and private organizations (this is one of my favorites) that I believe in.
I cannot control how prisons operate. But I can do my very best to walk the line so I hopefully never see the inside of one.
I cannot control how often local parks, cemeteries, and roadsides are mowed and maintained. But I’m free to go mow or pick up trash myself.
Personal responsibility goes a long way.
My county was recently internationally recognized (criticized?) for its stunningly high number of HIV+ residents. Drug use in my area is rampant, to say the least. Even with these literal world record-breaking statistics in a little town less than 5 miles away from my house, I’ve never been affected by drugs or STDs. I was privileged to be born as a neurotypical into a good, healthy family and then avoided the questionable people, the drug houses, the sketchy streets, and I limited my body count to just one- my husband. Needles along the roadways and in public parks have been an issue, so I avoid those areas for the most part and have even been responsible for calling in/disposing of needles I find during my county’s annual volunteer clean sweep.
Focus on What You Can Do
Voting is important. But aside from starting petitions, calling congressmen, or running for office yourself, it’s the only way you can influence politics or the current government. You’re far better off to focus your time and energy to what you *can* do as an individual, rather than worrying about what the elected officials are doing. By limiting the time and energy wasted on the stuff I can’t control, I increase the time and energy I have available for what I can control, which makes me a happier, healthier, and more effective person.
- How do you approach voting? How important is it to you (and why)?
- Do you stress about politics and current events?
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