By Erin Drushel

[avatar user=”ErinDrushel” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]Erin Drushel[/avatar]It was a tough decision, but I did it… 

Or rather, I didn’t do it.  I didn’t watch either the Republican or the Democratic convention on television.  I didn’t see any speeches, no cutesy children stealing the show, nor did I see Clint Eastwood speak to a chair.

It may come as a surprise… but I did it intentionally.

Anyone can be swayed by emotional arguments.  And the more charismatic the orator is, the more impactful the speech will be.  But how many people just “check out” when politicians come on television?

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people watching conventions are not watching them to be swayed.  Those people have already made a choice.  And, likely, those who have chosen are only watching the other side’s convention looking for missteps and political fodder.

Generally speaking, Democrats are going to vote Democrat; Republicans are going to vote Republican.

I want to talk to those people who have checked out (or at least to their friends who are still paying attention) – you know who they are, the forty-odd percent who don’t vote.  And I thought the best way to do that was to not watch the conventions as well.

Some people check out because they are disillusioned with both parties or just with politicians in general.    There are people who say politics don’t matter and those that believe their votes don’t count.  These excuses are used as reasons to not vote.

Rhetoric and the onslaught of dubious attacks get very tiresome.  It’s hard to be bothered listening when there is only screaming and finger-pointing.  Democracy is a tremendous responsibility with difficult decisions and a lot of floating excrement to swim through, but it must be done if you believe your opinion matters (which it does).

My advice: don’t base your decisions on emotionally-charged attack ads or divisive speeches; these are tools of manipulation.  Put aside the impassioned pleas, and take the time to read the most important information that came out of the conventions – the Democratic platform and the Republican platform.  These documents are statements of values, beliefs and intentions.  Of course there’s going to be rhetoric in them, but you can look beyond that and read the substance of each party’s intent.  Look at websites such as to help you sort through the rhetoric.

Even if you have to choose between the “lesser of two evils,” you will have made a choice, thus making your opinions matter.    If the 40% of citizens who don’t currently vote made it known how they wanted their country run, just imagine what could happen… proof that every vote counts.

I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but I will tell you that you must vote.

I truly believe that by giving up your right to vote, you also give up your right to complain.  And really, why should anyone care about what you have to say if you didn’t bother to exercise your civic responsibility to say it?

And if you’re still not persuaded that voting is important or worthwhile, consider this:  if you’re not going to vote, you can be certain that the fanatics will – giving them the power to make your decisions for you.

– Erin Drushel