My Slovenian ex-boyfriend asked me if I’m going to vote on Tuesday, and my jaw dropped. We were together for three years, and have mostly stayed in touch since then. He knows me. How could he think I might not vote?!
The issue of knowing me aside (and he should have known…), there really is social pressure to vote here in the US. I am fairly disengaged from the day to day details of the election. I don’t have a television and so have had no problem avoiding 100% of tv political ads. I absolutely have opinions on various issues, but I don’t feel like campaign coverage of a candidate’s political position covers issues adequately or in a meaningful or nuanced-enough way. I feel like President Obama is a vastly better choice than his opponent, but though they differ on issues, there is really not as much of a difference between them as there is between opponents in many countries.
There’s no question that electoral votes where I live will go to Obama.
I will still vote, and I will still feel morally appalled if Mitt Romney wins. I recently read that Romney is more popular among both white men and white women. This astounds me and is more evidence that I have less and less of a connection to quite a lot of people in this country.
I lived in the Balkans teaching English (only for a short period in Slovenia), and the situation is very different. It would be misleading to imply I fully understand it all, and what I do understand is still too much to fit neatly into a blog post. But I have lots of friends who won’t vote because the structure of the system that has been set up by international actors – very much including the US – essentially mandates voting along ethnic lines and reinforces the “separation along ethnic lines” ideology of war criminals. Many or most candidates who decide to work with this system share that ideology to enough of an extent that many or most normal people who actually want to live together, and not see everything in terms of ethnicity, are appalled by them. So they don’t vote.
I will vote. The situation here is different. I can’t not vote. I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t vote and Obama didn’t win. But given that my electoral votes will go to Obama regardless of if I vote or not – it’s interesting to realize that this is almost completely social pressure driving my actions.