Robert Bryce's articles have appeared in dozens of publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Counterpunch and Atlantic Monthly to Oklahoma Stripper. His third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence," was published in 2008. Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His most recent book, Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy, and the Real Fuels of the Future, was published in 2010 by PublicAffairs. He lives in Austin.
The differences between the precinct and the parish are few. In the precinct, we share a zip code. In the parish, we share a faith. But in both, we are self-selecting groups who are more alike than we are different.
Now, I'm not arguing for church-based government. Far from it. I'm only saying that voting deserves the same kind of significance in our lives as religious belief. Voting is a right. It is also, I believe, a moral obligation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ an obligation for membership in our society.
I like voting. I like the process. Of course, I'm never organized enough to have my voter registration card with me when I go to the polls, so I have to show them my drivers license and then sign on the yellow sheet with upside down writing on one side.
When I get to the voting booth and am forced to choose, I'm often a contrarian. I'll vote for people that I know nothing about, just because I like their name. Or in a race where one candidate is almost certain to prevail, I'll vote for a person who has absolutely no chance of winning.
I don't think of it as wasting my vote. Not at all. Instead, I'm exercising my right to support a candidate Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who unlike me, whose political career ended when I lost my bid to be the secretary of my high school's student council in 1976 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has decided to endure the ultimate popularity contest, and all the frustration and pain that comes with it.
My favorite quote about voting comes from one of my favorite presidents, Lyndon Johnson. He called voting, the "most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."Â
Johnson saw voting as a way to connect people, to bind them in a common purpose, a common belief in a government of the people. And in that connection there is something that borders on the sacred.