Opinion: Haven't voted yet? Get on that shit

Opinion: Haven't voted yet? Get on that shit
Credit: Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

The only thing more ridiculous than that Lil Jon video is the fact that those celebrities felt the need to make it in the first place (even though many of them didn't vote). Why can't you assholes just vote?

OK, I get it. You hate the two-party system. You hate Democrats and Republicans in equal measure. You think that voting for the lesser of two evils is still endorsing evil, and you don't want any part of it. You think that all politicians are disingenuous morons, so it doesn't really matter which one holds office.

I'm not saying that your feelings are totally unjustified. I'm just saying you should still vote.  

Maybe you're not voting as a form of protest. You think voting means supporting a system you hate, and that violates your principles. I understand how you feel in theory—fuck the system. But there's a difference between theory and practice. No matter what you believe, the system is (unfortunately) the system. You can believe in Marxism, but you can't really practice it. You can be an anarchist, but you still have to pay taxes. If you get caught breaking the law, you'll go to jail regardless of how you feel about prison reform.

You can hate the system all you want, and there's a lot to hate. But until the revolution, can you just take a few minutes to vote so that things don't totally suck in the meantime?

Fuck, people have died fighting for the right to vote. And yeah, I went there, because you should feel bad about yourself if you don't exercise that right. The system is broken, and you're making it worse. The country is full of lazy people, but the 15-year-old rape survivor in Texas still deserves the right to decide if she wants an abortion—the 35-year-old married woman in Baltimore deserves that right, too—and when pro-choice people neglect to vote for pro-choice candidates, they're really fucking those women over.

Politicians—Democrats and Republicans alike—might be equally terrible, but they're terrible in different ways. And those differences are important. You can't tell me the issues don't matter; they do.

On a national scale, it's the obvious stuff: The people you put in office determine the future of education, immigration reform, marriage equality, health care, and, yes, weed. (On an even larger scale, those people determine the future of the whole planet: Think about the politicians who don't believe in climate change.)

In Maryland, the governor's race (between Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan) is important. Some people—including President Obama, who made a point to stop in Upper Marlboro to rally the base—think the gubernatorial race could be close; others say Brown has it in the bag. The thing is, no one really knows for sure, largely because voter turnout is so unpredictable. It isn't about how many people back Brown or Hogan in theory; it's about HOW MANY PEOPLE FUCKING VOTE FOR THEM.

Do you know what governors do? Because governors have some serious power. They head the state's executive branch. They can veto state bills. They can appoint judges, as well as department and agency heads. They oversee state budgets, which means they can fund programs that impact reproductive rights, for instance.

Midterm elections matter. In this case, Democrats are desperately fighting to keep control of the Senate; if they lose it, the GOP could control both houses of Congress, which is major. On a local level, the outcome of the midterm elections has big impacts closer to home. Being decided on the local ballot: Maryland's eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives, all 188 members of the state legislature, state attorney general, comptroller, and races for other local offices. As we wrote before, some of those races are foregone conclusions because there's no competition—such as the choices for state's attorney and most courthouse positions, including for circuit- and appellate-court judges. But some local elections are more interesting. Here's our rundown, in case you missed it.

You can say, "Nothing is going to change," and maybe that's true on some levels. And maybe nothing will change for you personally. But the world doesn't revolve around you. Despite all the bullshit, politics deeply affect people's lives.

So just vote today. (And make it a habit.)