Don’t protest if you don’t vote

By Brian Villalba

If you don’t vote you are telling the government you don’t care because everything is going perfectly.  Clearly things are far from perfect, but some of us seem to not care.  If you consider yourself a political activist and you are not registered to vote, then can you really still consider yourself a political activist?

To vote is to participate in government. That is one way that we are supposed to be equal.  Everyone’s vote is worth one vote.  The problem is if you don’t vote it isn’t worth anything. If you register to vote then you have taken the first step.  The next step is that you must participate in the elections by showing up to your polls and voting.

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar only 53 percent of registered voters turned out for the last gubernatorial election in 2010.  If you did not show up to the polls that day and you don’t like the current political circumstances, are you not partly to blame? The answer is yes.

If you didn’t vote in that election, which had a ton of media coverage, you likely didn’t vote in the many local elections that affect all sorts of important issues like our Los Angeles Community College District budget.

Since 2009, Los Angeles has elected two new congresspersons.  One election was in 2009 and another in 2011.  In the 2011 election which saw Janice Hahn become the next representative from California’s 36th congressional district, the voter turnout was 25 percent.  The 36th district is on the west side of Los Angeles south of Santa Monica.

The 2009 election which saw Judy Chu, who was a professor at East Los Angeles College for 13 years, become our next representative from California’s 32nd congressional district, voter turnout was a whopping 10 percent. The 32nd district is all around ELAC.  Many ELAC students live in the 32nd district. With a voter turnout like that, Judy Chu could have had her extended friends and family show up to the polls and win in a landslide as a result.

These elections certainly got less press than the gubernatorial election but they affect us just as much, if not more.  Local elections tend to have lower voter turnouts than national elections. Local elections affect our tuition rates, taxes, laws and just about everything else local government does. There are plenty of people who are protesting fee hikes but where were these people on election day?

Too many of them didn’t vote.  If they had just showed up to vote then perhaps there would have been less reason to protest. The next time ELAC students want to occupy something they should consider looking to their peers.

If everyone sympathetic to the occupy movement voted, perhaps there would not have been such a need for an occupy movement in the first place. Also there would not likely have been such a ruthless and systematic national crackdown.  Elected officials would likely have used more caution.

It wouldn’t be wise for elected officials to be so adversarial with the very constituents that are responsible for their job security. So long as voter turnout is near 10% we shouldn’t expect elected officials to listen to us because we aren’t saying anything.

This article has 2 Comments

  1. I find Brian Villalba’s article to be profoundly uninspiring. The only person I would vote for is someone like Vermin Supreme. I know he isn’t seriously running for election, but its the attitude that reflects my views, which Mr. Villalba neglects. Not only is it wrong to say that it’s the non-voters fault for political imperfections, it’s scapegoating. Since so many who have faith in the government like to place words in the non-voters mouth, I will state that I do not find the options given to me by the wealthy to be representative of the working class, and I will not have faith in a system that breaks it down based on how much wealth one has at their disposal. Greed is never a merit in my book, nor is the pursuit of power to control my destiny. If you want my participation, make me care, and if you want my cooperation, seek truth and justice. Democracy is such a scam, and this article is just one example of the hype the wealthy have built on such false terms. Not only are we not allowed to actually choose who we vote for, our votes really don’t count at all if one is of the working class. Many are too busy struggling to survive in an unjust system that represents itself by abusing and exploiting the underprivileged to care about the whole. Makes sense to me, since the middle and upper class are often too narcissistic to care about our needs, and refuse to fulfill their obligations to us. What a lazy and exploitative culture of cowards we are here in the US of A.


    The protests will continue, until there is no other way, than I suspect the actions we take will become less peaceful.

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