By Y. Weiss
Ok, so I have a confession to make: I never voted. I mean never, ever. I never even registered to vote.
To be quite honest my reticence to voting is left over from the old days, when registering to vote was rumored to be a ticket to jury duty- something I and everyone else I know is not interested in doing. But along the way, as it became apparent that that was no longer the case (although so far, bli ayin hora, I have never been called to jury duty), I still justified my nonvoter status based on another excuse- that no one ever one an election by one vote. Or even by two, to the best of my knowledge.
Along the way, I have been lectured by people, saying that it is my democratic duty to vote. And I just laughed. After all, living in a free country, to me meant I also have a right not to vote. And I chose to exercise that right.
I am not alone. After all, only 57% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2012 presidential elections. And, by the way, that was after 76% of eligible voters claimed they would “definitely” vote. In yesterday’s elections however, only 69% claimed they would definitely vote. I therefore presume that much less than 57% actually voted.
Last night, however something clicked within me that made me rethink this and perhaps change my perspective. At around 830 pm, I walked by a voting station and noticed people waiting on line- many for over an hour, just to vote. There were mothers with little children, who were entering the booth with them, to show them what it looked like and to allow them to watch mommy place her vote. And I ironically acknowledged that I myself don’t even know what the inside of a voting booth looks like.
Voting is an interesting thing from a psychological perspective. Although logically, I am right that there is statistically little to no chance that one vote will make a difference, voters obviously don’t see it that way. They apparently view themselves as a part of a system, a part of something much larger. They view themselves as contributing one little drop of water to the raging river of democratic elections and are content with that. They are willing to expend tremendous time and effort to be a part of that system. As they say (often around election time), “It takes a village” and that village is made of millions of individuals.
I have a friend who is a Talmud Chacham and well versed in Nach, who often tells me that by learning the stories in the Navi, you come to realize that Klal Yisroel in those times acted as units, rather than individuals. Individuality wasn’t what gave one a sense of purpose and identity, rather belonging to the sacred nation and being a part of it, is what gave people their identities. They all belonged to something much bigger and greater and individually saw themselves as playing a tiny role in that. They were a part of a Klal- the greatest Klal of all- Klal Yisroel. Klal Yisroel as a whole is much greater than any single individual can ever hope to be. And you and I can tap into and acquire that greatness, if we are willing to give up our need for individuality.
Can you imagine that you and I, tiny you and tiny I can influence who the president of the United States will be? While no election was ever decided by one vote, all elections were won because people just like you voted. As an individual, your vote was certainly not the deciding one. On a collective level however, your vote certainly contributed to the outcome of an election. That is greatness!