Letters: Response to why its not essential to vote column

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This is a response to Ethan Vassar’s opinion piece, “Why it’s not essential to vote,” and I really appreciate Vassar giving a voice to what is probably a segment of the population that is not often taken seriously.


It seems like everywhere on a college campus, students abound ready to extol the virtues of voting, and enabling the conditions that allow for an engaged populous.  But Vassar’s perspective seems to take a form of political engagement separate from directly engaging with the electorate, which I find a fascinating argument. 

At the same time, I find some inconsistency in Vassar’s approach to legitimizing a categorical imperative not to engage politically through the observation that his views are “immensely over-represented.”

While I agree that the voices that are heard more often circumstantially arise from the throats of other, as Vassar identifies himself, “straight, White, middle-class male[s],” let it not be forgotten that race, class, gender and sexuality do not dictate what your political views are.  This is a common misconception that I see prevailing most often in the voices of those who, like both you and myself, have the historic comfort of our rights remaining “pretty much the same”. 

Political engagement is not something that should be manipulated in such a way to give disproportionate advantages to any segment of a population based off of arbitrary distinctions (or perceived distinctions) in one’s geneotype, sexuality and etc. 

One of the facts of life, as you have mentioned, is the fact that because policies have been instituted and represented in the fashion that they have historically been, people like you and I benefit from political engagement in a way that is “entirely separate from many of the issues marginalized populations would like to see the government address and ultimately find solutions to”.

What frustrates me most about Vassar’s stance on the efficacy of voting is that he recognizes that political engagement in the past has done things to objectively usher in a better world, like the abolition of slavery.

He closes his article by saying that “there are no rights that the government needs to do a better job of enforcing for me, and no rights that others have which I don’t.”

But that’s the thing Vassar doesn’t realize, representative democracy wasn’t created just for him.  

Timothy Bates

CSU-College of Liberal Arts


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