The Wrong Reason to Vote

I’ve always approached voting as a bit of a chore: I don’t much care to do it one way or the other, but I know it’s important. So every election, I check it off my to-do list and bask in the self-satisfied smugness that comes from doing my civic duty. 

But this year’s election was different. I was fired up with righteous indignation – the kind I haven’t felt since I was a know-it-all college student writing papers about the merits of Eminem, of all people – and I just had to vote.

Otherwise, the terrorists would win.

I am, of course, referring to the people in this fine city who don’t share my point of view – the people who think bike lanes are stupid and who think investing in arts and culture is a waste of money and who think party politics belong at a municipal level.

As a responsible citizen, I had to take a stand against these people and their dangerous ideas. I mean, I don’t believe the bike lanes or the downtown patio are bad for the community. I don’t believe we should elect a whole slate of like-minded folks to council. And I certainly don’t believe that this city needs “fixing.” I’m against everything these people stand for.

Even so, voting against them was the wrong thing to do.

Instead of voting for the things I believe in, I voted against the things I don’t believe in. Instead of advocating for my point of view, I argued against their point of view. Instead of speaking for the people I support, I spoke against the people I don’t support.

I was so focused on the things I should vote against that I forgot about the things I should vote for. Righteous indignation may have given me a reason to vote – but it’s not the right reason to vote.

Vote because a candidate shares your vision for the community you call home. Vote because you want to help shape a better future here for your family. Vote because it’s important to have a say in who runs your city. 

Vote because standing up for something you believe in is a lot more productive than standing against something you don’t.

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