Voting sure doesn’t matter

I was an opinion columnist for University of Maryland’s student newspaper The Diamondback for three semesters before I graduated. The columns I wrote are still up on the web archive, but I’d rather not depend on The Diamondback to host them indefinitely. Thus, I have decided to repost them on this blog, not only to archive them in a place under my control, but also so you readers here can have an idea of my writing in college. Here is the third of my opinion columns, Voting sure doesn’t matter, originally published April 11, 2006.

I should point out that this opinion column was quite controversial, with many readers unable to tell that I was being sarcastic. Many students (and some professors) angrily wrote to and called The Diamondback’s offices. I was even contacted by Emma Simson, the candidate for SGA President who went on to win the election and who I knew from high school, asking if I was seriously discouraging people from voting. In hindsight, though, my sarcasm still looks incredibly obvious (the argumentum ad hitlerum really gives it away). I cannot believe anyone took me at face value. Still, my editor prohibited me from using sarcasm throughout an entire column ever again, even if it was an effective rhetorical device.


There’s an election today, but like the national elections in 2000 and 2004, it doesn’t matter one whit. It’s just an SGA election, and we all know that the Student Government Association does absolutely nothing. So don’t bother wasting five minutes of your precious time logging into the site and voting, because voting is worthless and one vote really can’t make a difference anyway.

The SGA has several trivial issues ahead of it this year that anyone with half a brain can figure out to everyone’s satisfaction (just like this past year’s SGA President Andrew Rose). Yeah, crime may be increasing in frequency and severity, but that doesn’t mean you should vote, because, hey, you haven’t been the victim of a crime yet. And for the few hundreds of who have, I’m sorry, but lots of people voted for previous candidates and that never helped solve crime. How about we try a new tactic: Don’t vote and hope that decreases crime rates. That’ll show those criminals.

The SGA is in charge of distributing over $1 million in student activity fees every year. But that’s really a trivial amount of money compared to, say, the U.S. National Debt. And keep in mind how many thousands of students go to the University of Maryland. On average, you spend more money each day for clothing than you do on student activity fees … on the days you do buy clothing, anyway. One million is just a one with six zeros after it. And six is just a number with zero zeros after it. By this brilliant mathematical logic, anyone can see that a million dollars really isn’t a big amount at all.

Rioting also seems to be a big issue this election cycle (thank you, women’s basketball team; men’s basketball team, not so much). The University Senate recently enacted legislation allowing the expulsion of students who haven’t actually been convicted of doing anything illegal. But this certainly shouldn’t make you want to vote. It’s the Senate, not the SGA, that deals with these issues, and in this new era of Orwellian university management, just voting for an anti-expulsion SGA candidate might leave you up against the wall when the expulsions start getting handed out. Better not risk it.

It look like we’re going to have an artist whose name you’ve never heard of playing Art Attack, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with the SGA. Sure, Student Entertainment Events, the group responsible for putting on Art Attack, may be composed of students in elected positions, and technically it is an “arm of the Student Government Association” – but let’s be real here. SEE is just like Dubai Ports World and United Arab Emirates; they’re totally separate. Who cares if we get to hear Common play this year instead of, say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Since neither is your absolute favorite band you’re not going to be satisfied either way. And if you are a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, I’m sorry, but you’re outnumbered.

Voting has a long and sordid history. Some of history’s greatest dictators (including a certain leader of the National Socialist Worker’s Party) were voted into power. You really don’t want to associate yourself with a crazed institution like that. If you do vote for a candidate you always run the risk of making a bad choice you may regret.

But if you don’t vote for anyone, no matter how things turn out, you can always be smug and self-satisfied and tell people, “See, this is why I didn’t vote for him.”

And for all of the potheads out there, there’s no reason whatsoever you should get up off your lazy, pot-addled asses today and shuffle over to your computer to vote, because there’s absolutely nothing of interest for you in this election. At all.


Note: There was, in fact, a student referendum on lessening university penalties for marijuana on the ballot. Its effect would have been to decrease penalties for marijuana usage in dorms from expulsion from on-campus housing to something more on par with how alcohol citations were handled. It ended up passing with two-thirds of the vote, but the University Senate never acted on it. Still, it did cause University of Maryland, College Park to be ranked the #1 Counterculture College in America by High Times magazine.

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