Election 2012

Your Excuse Sucks, and Other Bad Pro-Voting Propaganda

If you're not voting today (and you probably shouldn't) the folks at Cultivated Wit and Fight for the Future would like you to know that your excuse for not voting sucks.


vote or die

Happy Election Day!

If you're not voting today (and you probably shouldn't) the folks at Cultivated Wit and Fight for the Future would like you to know that your excuse for not voting sucks.

Appropriately enough, they are conveying that message at yourexcusesucks.com. But given that they bothered to buy the URL and throw up this site, you'd think they could have tried a little bit harder to muster some decent arguments.

To voters concerned (probably quite reasonably) that they aren't well informed enough to vote, the site offers this reassurance:

Don't worry silly, you can still vote. We have the electoral college to protect us from dummies like you.

Since when has democracy ever been about knowing what you're doing?

Do you understand how airplanes fly? No, but you don't mind participating in that process, do you?

I can't even…

vote or die

I'll let you, the readers, fill in your own refutations of that logic. You can do it! Then visit the site for seven more inarticulate, inchoate pro-voting arguments!

Of course, there are far more subtle and intelligent people out there arguing against the legions (well OK, small milling clusters) of non-voters like me. Take tech policy guy Timothy B. Lee. Today at Forbes, he sets out to take a dent out of non-voting. Unfortunately, this smart guy has chosen to take on one of the least compelling slices of an otherwise decent blog post about the ethics of non-voting.

Lee quotes Eli Dourado arguing that the correct response to a corrupt system is to say: "Take your democracy and shove it." (Dourado is legitimately grumpy about the drug war, but this is not his finest rhetorical moment.)

vote or die

Lee argues—quite persuasilvely—for the glories of living in a representative democracy. 

By world and historical standards…we residents of the United States have been blessed with a phenomenally humane and competent system of governance.


The remarkable thing about our system of government isn't how much injustice it produces, but how little injustice it causes relative to the political system of almost any other society in the history of the world.


A majority of Americans vote even though it would be in their personal self-interest to skip it.


As much as I love all the flag waving here (no sarcasm, I really do love it!) it's a red herring. Lee's real concern is that voting is a classic collective action problem, which we are currently overcoming with strong pro-voting social norms. 

vote or die

But then he takes a bite out of his own argument:

"Principled" non-voters have the luxury of not participating in the political process because millions of others are doing the hard work of making democracy work, thereby staving off the much larger injustices that tend to occur in non-democratic political systems. We're a wealthy and peaceful society, so we can tolerate a large number of such freeloaders.

In fact, some of us "principled" non-voters are also the people doing the "hard work of making democracy work." You know, like political journalism. Or writing Facebook posts about the crappiness of the choices available on our ballots. Calling us freeloaders, to borrow a phrase from Lee, "ignores what the actual universe of possibilities is" for helping to sustain our super awesome system.

Lee is right that we are lucky to live in a place where elections are happening today. But he's wrong that the individual decision to check a box in secret behind a curtain is a particularly significant one.

NEXT: My Preferences in Presidential Elections: A Brief History

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  1. First.

    There were races in my town where somebody was running unopposed. Would not voting in those races be a bad excuse?

    (For the record, I cast write-in votes for Howard Roark and Dominique Francon.)

    1. I had upwards of 25 people running unopposed on my ballot. For some reason, in the races that had only a D and an R, there was a write-in spot. For all the Ds running unopposed, there was not. The best I could do was blank.

      And yes, I fucking voted and I feel dirty about it. But my polling place is my coffeeshop and I got to witness a sufficient amount of disgruntled-voter hilarity to make it well worth it.

      1. Every time I see a race with no third parties or write-ins, I think “damn, I should’ve registered myself as a write-in, if only so that there’d be a line on the ballot for people to write in whoever/whatever they want.”

        Maybe one day I’ll actually remember to do this before the election. (I don’t know about other states, but in Florida there’s no fee to register as a write-in.)

    2. I wrote in myself for Jefferson County District Attorney.

    3. I actually always vote for the person running unopposed because if you don’t vote in any of the races, at the end, the computer takes you back to those to ask you if you’re sure you didn’t want to vote in them. Takes an extra minute so it’s easier just to select them first time through.

  2. I’m taking guesses on how many of the above T-shirted celebrities know who Lysander Spooner is.

    1. Maybe one. I mostly arrive at that number by the fact of how many of the above celebs I know: Maybe one. (I think the nipples with the blonde attached is Paris… Whatserface.)

    2. Dude, I was at a tennis practice and was talking to another dude who was trying out for the team. He said he was a political philosophy professor at UW. I said “what do you think of Lysander Spooner?”

      He had no idea who that was. Yay!

      1. Then please do not ask him who Wordsworth Donisthorpe is?

        1. Thankfully he ended up on another team and we didn’t have to go there.

      2. Silly Epi, “political philosophy” is just short for “The Glorious History of Marxism for Benefit of Whole World!”

        Why would they need to cover Spooner?

      3. I had a college professor who did her thesis on Poe and the American Tradition of Horror and had never heard of H. P. Lovecraft.

        1. I think that’s even more ridiculous than my story. Ideology blinders can explain my story. Nothing can explain yours, which, come to think of it, is par for the course with you.

  3. “Principled” non-voters have the luxury of not participating in the political process because millions of others are doing the hard work of making democracy work,

    Voting is hard work? The toughest thing about voting was making myself crawl out of really cozy bed.

    1. What if principled nonvoters actually don’t want any “help” with “making democracy work”?

      1. I have no problem with nonvoters, principled or not. I just think the “hard work” statement is ludicrous on the face of it.

        1. Oh, I didn’t mean you. It’s definitely ludicrous on its face. But what’s even more ludicrous is the idea that a principled nonvoter would think he was freeloading. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s what an apathetic nonvoter thinks.

    2. Was it harder to crawl out of bed than it was to stay in bed?

      1. Certainly. But then I started the ribs. Then I went to vote. I still got there before they opened.

    Yes, the system is rigged to offer no discernible pattern for the last 236 years.
    So what, then you just wasted part of your day pushing buttons or pulling levers? Who doesn’t love pushing buttons and pulling levers!?!

    This is the best they could do? For fuck’s sake.

    1. Now, if the lever was for the trapdoor of a gallows?

      1. Actually, I guess it is; unfortunately, my life, liberty and property (so to speak) are what’s wearing the noose.

  5. Maybe it’s just because I’m a man, but if Paris Hilton and whoever that chick in the third picture is were intimately involved I could be bothered to cast a vote. Other than that, meh.

    1. Laila Ali

      1. Laila Ali


        1. Mohammad’s daughter. Beautiful lady. google is your friend here, trust me.

          1. I know who Laila Ali is. Those question marks were more “what are you looking at?” than “who are you talking about?”

            1. I know who Laila Ali is. Those question marks were more “what are you looking at?”

              Got it, because I wondered the same thing. But I guess all black people look alike to crackers.

              /I keed Kristen, I keed

        2. I’m totally gonna get the RACISSSST! response, but Keys and Ali look remarkably alike.

          1. No, not racist…but damn…you need glasses, girl.


    2. Alicia Keys.

        1. We all would, Mulatto. We all would.

        2. So say we all.

    3. Kanye West.

      1. He’s a gay fish?

  6. Do you understand how airplanes fly?

    I’ve got a better idea. We should turn this around 180 degrees.

    How about if you don’t understand how planes fly, we don’t let you vote, either?

    1. If you don’t understand how airplanes fly, I really don’t want you flipping levers on it!

  7. As much as Katherine Mangu-Ward sucks. And believe me she does. This website is so insane I’m thinking about skipping my voting privleges this year.

    OH yeah, and I vote in Franklin County.

    People innundated with vote or die or any of that BS are so far up their own asses it’s like talking to a liberal or something.

    1. Wow, a sub-literate thinks Katherine Mangu-Ward sucks. How devastating for her!

      1. So sub-literate as to believe there’s only one Franklin County.
        Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina… That makes seven. Did I miss any?

        1. Tennessee, New York, Alabama… 10.

        2. Ohio is the only one of those states that actually count though.

      2. Who effectively names themselves TheToiletBowl?

    2. BelowTheRim

      Franklin County

      So you are a Morlock?

      1. It’s Ohio.

        Just sayin, fuck these votetards.

        Pissin me off…

        1. Oh, 75% graduation rate. You are the 25% huh?

        2. Ah.

          I figured the odds of two Franklin Counties with a Rim/Pit split would be rare.

          Guess not.

  8. The witless attempts at snark are worse than the excuses almost every time. Voting is too complicated? No worries, Try to think of it as operating a microwave that reheats the day-old burrito that is our national government. Maybe that will help you figure it out. Only a moron would actually encourage other morons to vote. I guess there’s retard strength in numbers.

  9. So my hair salon is offering a discount for anyone who wears and “I Voted” sticker to the salon, or who posts a pic of themselves with a sticker to the salon’s Facebook page. I happen to have a hair appointment tomorrow.

    Do I take an old “I Voted” sticker (yes, I have them) and post a pic and get my discount? I don’t think “conscientious objector” will get me the discount, is what I’m sayin’.

    1. Obviously. And when you leave, steal a magazine or two.

    2. Did they say when you actually vote? Technically, if you have voted in the past, you have indeed voted.

    3. Yeah, that’s the only reason I took my sticker. I knew some places had discounts.

      1. How can that be legal?

    4. You knock over a old lady a steal hers.

    5. You should cancel your appointment and tell them it’s because they’re encouraging democracy.

  10. would like you to know that your excuse for not voting sucks.

    excuse, noun: A reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.

    I’ll address this using their level of snark: At least they aren’t begging the question or anything.

  11. My boss accepts “I was in line to vote” as a reason to come in to work an hour late. So voting was in my self-interest.

    1. So did you use that hour to sleep in and than go vote on your lunch break?

      1. Why would he/she go vote on their lunch break?

      2. Sadly, my wife set the alarm for four in the morning. “Sleep in” was not in the cards today.

  12. Why “politicians are all the same” is bullshit:

    That’s not true at all. There are actually 13 animatronic models for public officials.

    The same in that they all have the power to directly affect our lives and their jobs are 100% dependent on our approval? Yes, in that way they are all the same.

    That may be so, but what about all the other people who ride their coattails into office? You’re voting for Secretary of Energy Steven Chu as much as you’re voting for Obama, and I think we can all agree that Chu’s got at least another four years in him.

    Hurr-durr, dey’s snarkin’ at me! Hurr-durr animatronics!

    A politicians job is not dependant on your personal approval, you are a statistical non-factor compared to the thousands to millions of voters that the candidate of your choice has already promised favors, services and largesse to.

    What about all of the lobbyists and donors that rode Obama’s fucking coattails into office? Does Romney have a list of his lobbyists and donors who will be assuming appointee positions in the executive branch? No? Then why the fuck should I vote based on wild-assed speculation?

    As far as Steven Chu goes, fuck you Chrysler, Fiat, Solyndra, Ener-One, and Beacon Power.

  13. Ever done your taxes? You can handle voting. Haven’t done your taxes? Congratulations, you’re a member of the one percent and can just buy the politician you want.

    Oh, fuck these people so goddamned hard. There are so many layers of fail here. Not the least of which is that lots of their favourite liberal bullshit is accomplished by… guess what? Making taxes more complicated. And lots of times, their beloved poor people can’t even figure out how to claim their beloved handouts, so tax professionals volunteer to help them for free every goddamned fucking year.

    I hate today.

    1. Well, today hates you back harder.

    2. Also, what are the chances that if you haven’t done your taxes you are super-rich vs. super-(legal-income-)poor.

      1. A lot higher than 1%.

    3. Give em a break. It’s not like they could say, “Ever gotten a state ID? You can handle voting.”

  14. In the immortal words of Rhymefest (who would, ironically, later go on to unsuccessfully run for alderman): “I feel like Puff Daddy lied, coz I ain’t vote and I ain’t die.”

  15. Don’t worry silly, you can still vote. We have the electoral college to protect us from dummies like you.

    The problem is that ALL OF THEM are “dummies like you.”

  16. Since when have you needed an excuse to not give 2 fucks?

  17. I just have to wonder: if all the smart libertarians who know their vote doesn’t matter voted, the LP could get enough votes to qualify for matching funding. Having a few mil extra to spend on advertising really could change the race and get Johnson or whomever into the debates.

    That said, fully aware that your one vote will not be the one that decides whether or not he ends up over the 5% threshold. I still don’t get the idea that just because voting doesn’t change the outcome it’s a waste of time. I feel fantastic after voting straight ticket libertarian, but I guess I’m just a psychological tool of the votemongers…

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