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You Have a Right to Complain - Dave's World

You Have a Right to Complain

Election Day - November 8, 2022

If you don't vote, you have no right to complain.

I'm not sure when I first heard this sentiment, but I rank it up with the most overdone memes in American politics. Any time the question of whether someone should bother participating in the election is raised, I hear this slogan repeated. It's practically a tautology, a truism accepted by all good American citizens.

The reasoning behind this sentiment is, perhaps obviously, that in a democratic society, each citizen has an opportunity to voice their opinion in a very direct sense by voting. Therefore, if you choose not to participate in an election, then you forgo this opportunity, and you therefore have no legitimate basis on which to complain about the political state of affairs in your country, because you had the opportunity to change the state of things and decided not to.

Let's consider then the basis for complaints of those who do participate in elections. If you vote in an election (let's only consider one office for simplicity's sake), then your selected candidate either wins or loses.

It seems to me, then, that by this logic, nobody has any right to complain at all! It's just that the people who vote in elections want to feel better about their decision to vote and shout down people who raise their grievances with the system because they have no right to complain.

There are many reasons people might choose not to participate in elections. Maybe they are disgusted by the concept of democracy altogether and for fear of being a hypocrite they refuse to vote. Maybe they are genuinely indifferent to the outcome of the election and don't want to waste their time. Or maybe they just don't like any of the candidates on the ballot. All that matters is that it's none of your business why someone does or doesn't vote. Just as free individuals have a right to speak their mind, so do they also have a right to keep their mouth shut if they so desire, and when they decide to raise objection to what someone does at a later time, who are you to tell them that they have no right to their opinion?

Everyone has a right to complain, and even if someone chooses not to decide, they still have made a choice.