By Felipe Bida – 1851 Contributor
I know my request will fall on deaf ears and this is somewhat of a lost cause. As of this writing, the United States is a week away from what many are calling the most important Presidential election of our lifetimes. I’m not saying those people are wrong, but they did also say that about the last one. By now, even those most disinterested in politics have had to endure someone insisting they need to exercise their civic duty and vote. According to NPR, 66 million early votes have already been cast, which is almost half of the total votes cast 4 years ago. And, full disclosure, I myself have already voted. So, why would I be encouraging other people not to vote?
First, let’s get on some common ground. Regardless of where you lean, republicans and democrats would probably both agree that our country feels divided right now. According to a few Pew research studies, 75% of Americans believe the news media is biased when covering political or social issues, and about one-fifth of democrats and republicans get all their news from inside a media bubble. This means there is a minority in the U.S. who, over time have shaped their social media newsfeed to only tell them what they want to hear. These are people who could have been considered political junkies in the 80s, but a more appropriate label today would be a fanatic. Even when faced with facts to the contrary, these people will ignore or actively try to discredit those facts because it doesn’t fit with their worldview. I’m not here to say the fanatics are right or wrong, just that there is no point in having an honest debate with these people. Their vote is out of loyalty to their party, and anything to the contrary would betray their own identity, since their party has become so closely tied to who they see themselves as.
To acknowledge that only a minority is fanatical about politics does not mean the rest of the country is actively engaged. Most people are not splitting time between Fox News and MSNBC and using their judgment to split the difference.
That’s why I don’t want you to vote. In the last four years, if your brain shut down every time friends talked politics around you, I don’t want you to vote. If you’re making your decision based on which candidate you think has the best smile, I don’t want you to vote. If you’ve never sat through an entire Trump or Biden speech, tried to follow a White House press conference, or even half-listened to a couple roundtable debates on TV, I don’t want you to vote. As unpopular as this opinion may be, if your idea of doing your civic duty means only taking your head out of the sand once every four years, I believe you owe it to the rest of us who have been paying attention to sit this one out.
In the run up to any election, disinformation is at its most intense, and the ignorant voters are the most susceptible to it. In this election, basic facts surrounding every issue have been made uncertain, not only by contradicting news stations, but politicians, the administration, and foreign bad actors as well. There is no shame in admitting you have not been keeping up and are not informed enough to make a good decision.