Why I’m not votingBy
I’m the guy who got into arguments with friends in college who said they wouldn’t vote. I chastised a classmate of my when I was first studying abroad in Ireland in 2006 for failing to obtain an absentee ballot. I worked on GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaigns in 2004. I believed (and still do) that voting is not just a right but a responsibility every American has a moral duty to fulfil.
But this year, I can’t bring myself to vote in the American presidential election.
Even though I’ve lived abroad for nearly three years, I’ve continued to read more American media than most of my friends back home. I’ve followed this ridiculous election cycle/bad reality show for its two year existence, and I’ve listened with increasing disbelief and candidates argue against concepts so central to European life that it gets translated into garbled, white noise. “Does not compute,” my brain seems to tell me as I hear Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan argue not how a government should provide basic healthcare to its people, but whether it should at all.
They talk about reducing the burden on college students by making student loans more readily available, as if adding more student debt is a solution to a country where I can emerge from university with thirty-freaking-thousand dollars in debt (payments starting six months from the day I graduated, regardless of my ability to pay). Remember, the UK was a place where students rioted and attacked Prince Charles and Camilla’s car over a tuition increase that would increase tuition to $14,500 (that’s in US dollars. the average US tuition rate is $21,500 for public, $42,000 for private universities).
The presidential candidates argue over not just abortion, but whether birth control can should be included in government healthcare plans when Viagra long since has been.
They talk about gay marriage as if it’s not a forgone conclusion that every person should be free to make whichever choice they’d like regarding whom they would marry.
And although I’m inclined to cast a vote for President Obama due to our similar policy positions, the fact that he entertains the debate instead of brushing off these counter-arguments like the Crazy-Homeless-Person-Shouting-in-the-Street arguments they are is insane to me.
I don’t actually think he should brush off those arguments, speaking from a political perspective — but I find myself increasingly removed from the society that allows these debates to continue.
That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t vote this year. I’m too far removed from the the country that is staging this election. I moved out of America before President Obama had finished his first year in office. I’m no longer a resident of the United States of America.
It’s where I’m from.
It’s what I sound like.
It’s informed much of the person I am today.
But it’s not where I am now, and hearing debates over issues that are so far from European culture has made me realise I don’t want to be part of the machine this election cycle. It would be far more appopriate for me to vote in a U.K. election.
If only doing so wouldn’t threaten my the status of my U.S. citizenship.