To The 100 Million Americans Who Didn’t Vote

I don’t think about you all that often.

I’m usually too busy.

Like many people, I’ve spent most of the waking moments over the past year fighting.

I’ve spent much of my days pushing back, against:
relentless assaults on healthcare,
legislative attacks on Muslims,
the gutting of environmental protections,
emboldened nazis and racists marching without hoods,
white supremacists in the Cabinet,
nepotism in the White House,

vanishing LGBTQ protections,
evangelists and preachers defending rapists,
oil pipelines dug into sacred lands,
midnight tax bills leveling poor people and coddling the wealthy,
a burgeoning Theocracy of Bible-sanctioned bigotry,
ranting, nonsensical, nuke-baiting Tweets,

the vilifying of kneeling black athletes,
and on and on and on…

The sheer volume of the violence has been so great and its velocity so fierce—that there has been little time to rest or to lose focus. By their design, there simply isn’t a moment to stop or breathe or to think of much else—let alone to dwell upon you.

But every once in a while my mind does drift toward all of you; the 100 million eligible voters who opted out of the 2016 election—and I wonder what you’re thinking right now.

I wonder what your story has been since that day:

Did you realize on November 9th that you’d made a terrible mistake?
Did you become overnight activists, immediately joining the resistance to a filth you felt you helped release?
Did you walk in the Women’s March alongside grieving voters and feel a twinge of guilt?
Are you mortified at your recognized error and still hiding in your anonymity?
Did you simply stop paying attention to politics to avoid the shame it yielded?
Have you convinced yourself that your vote wouldn’t have mattered?
Are you fully sickened by what you’re seeing right now and merely silent?
Are you perfectly happy with the country you see on your timeline and out your windows?
Is this the change you were expecting by your silence?

Do you feel any regret or remorse?
Are you as disconnected now as you seemed to be then?
Would you still opt-out, if the election were today?

Honestly, I don’t like to think of you too often because I feel the sadness in me rise to the surface.
I don’t want to resent you but I do.
I don’t want to see you as complicit in the sickness we are now afflicted with, but I can’t help it. 
I don’t want my blood to boil at either your apathy or laziness or fatigue or spitefulness—but ocassionally it does.
I don’t want to still be disheartened thinking about you, but I am.

While I may not agree with those who voted Third Party while knowing the likely impact of their decision on the outcome, or those who cast a vote as some middle finger revolt against the status quo—at least they spoke, they participated in the process, they stood for something—even if it’s something I am fully opposed to.
I much prefer an honest, visible adversary than a silent one I can’t see.

The number is still beyond belief.
100 million people.
100 million people thought so little of the freedoms Americans who came before them protested and were jailed for, were beaten and imprisoned for, fought and died for—that they would simply abstain.
100 million people didn’t find a compelling enough reason to leave the house and allot a couple of hours to speak into the future of their children, of their country, of the planet.
100 million people just opted out of one of the most critical responsibilities we have as citizens of this country.
And for whatever reason, you were among this multitude.

I’ve heard every reason and excuse, every justification and motivation and I honestly don’t disregard them—it’s just that none of them seem to be worth this unequivocal mess we currently find ourselves stuck in.

If you are one of those 100 million people who stayed home last November when you were eligible to vote, I hope your abstaining was a momentary lapse; some perfect storm of anger and exhaustion and frustration.
I hope you’ve engaged or re-engaged the political process now, that you’ve found your personal activism, that you are intentionally leveraging your influence again.
I hope you’re working hard for equality and justice and diversity, that you’re openly opposing hatred.
I hope you are using your voice in more ways than by not using it.

I don’t know why you were silent in 2016, but I want you to know that your silence was costly regardless. Your abstinence was loud, and so your presence now needs to be even louder in making it right.

Today tens of millions of us will continue to be the kind of people the world needs, we will keep pushing back against so much that seems so very wrong since the election, and I really hope to see you alongside us—even if we never meet or have a conversation about the election.

No matter why you stayed home then, I truly hope you’re with us now.

I hope you’ve joined us in the fight against the hateful people in power because we need you.

I hope you’ll raise your voice in these days, because the world needs to hear you.

Please speak.



29 thoughts on “To The 100 Million Americans Who Didn’t Vote

  1. Hi John : life is not Fair
    Not everyone in this country should be voting
    and the way things are determined in our USA
    is so out of balance , not fair, Not just, not right
    But We have a Savior who Died on a cross for all , and will set up a kingdom for those who call upon him to come in and sup with him.
    His name is Jesus Christ
    Not one turned away
    But many will turn away on thier own due to sin, choice, wrong leaders who teach them how to go to Hell and damnation with a smile, false peace, false views.
    That is right , Many will be decieved
    NOT God s Fault
    He is at the Door , All who invite Him in will be saved
    All who Accept Him, Believe Him , follow Him will be saved
    NOT one person will not have that choice.
    Many will choose thier own way
    many will choose pleasure , sin over repentance, and Holiness
    that is just Life
    Wrong Choices , Wrong friendships , Wrong decisions
    But We all have a Free Will , Free choice
    That is Gods Love , He stands at the door and waits, Knocks , wants all to have this relationship with him.
    True Knowledge , peace, love

  2. If those 100 million would have voted …. it’s likely that more states would have flipped toward Trump. (New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada).

  3. John Pavlovitz,
    I am blessed and grateful that my brother once sent me one of your posts. Now I receive them regularly and they help. Your words are my daily sermon. You have helped me be more compassionate, more courageous, and your struggles show me why I will continue to follow the Jesus path — even when so many other “followers” frighten and anger me. I thank you from my heart and soul. May God continue to protect and embrace you and your family.

  4. Thank you Mr. Pavlovitz for bring up an important issue. We have become complacent and not paid proper attention to what the Republicans have been doing for a long while now. While people were looking elsewhere, they have put their thumbs on the scale with gerrymandering and their “voters rights” propaganda. The Supreme Court has allowed endless big money into our election process. If you are not fine with wasting your only real voice in regards to this country’s future, please become involved.

    Republicans have made a concerted effort to dismantle Unions and turning states in to “right to work” states. Employee costs may go down but the goods or services they provide do not. That means the only thing that changes is their profit margin. People are in business to make money, but there are great companies who are excellent employers and they still make money. I guess it comes down to how much money is enough? Love or hate unions, their imprint is slowly being erased along with the voice of American workers. Things that so many millions take for granted was hard fought for them. Union workers are often blasted for being greedy – yet the same people admire the 10% who are equally if not more greedy and have greater and greater power to direct the way this country is going.

    I am not making a blanket statement here. There are good and bad everywhere. But, your voice, like your body and your mind are unique to you, and so far, under your complete control. Please use it while you can. Tell your Representatives and Congress People what you believe. Research. Vote them out when they forget they are supposed to represent the people who elected them – not only 1/10 of the population. And always remember that it is supposed to be majority rule. That is the price we pay for freedom. Talk to people. Help those who are elderly or infirm to fill out forms, offer rides or help them apply for a absentee ballot.

    There are many issues that can sustain the good that is in this country. There are many issues that can affect your life – not just one. There are 10 commandments – not just one.

    Let us not become complacent again. Remember every excruciating detail of how you feel, that every time we think we have hit bottom, we never have. And a plea to every over reacting drama queen or diva. Please do not cry wolf. So many who have been harmed have finally spoken up. Giving the other side more ammunition to quiet those voices is unforgiveable.

    I am grateful that my family and friends are all huggers and kissers. I hope we will never lose that.


  5. Hi John, it’s your Canadian neighbour again. I do hear your heart. But I have a confession to make.
    As a nationally born American, now living in Canada, I could have voted in your election. My parents are now also American born Canadians, who vote faithfully in the elections of both countries, which is their right.
    I, however, chose to refrain for 2 reasons.

    1. I didnt like any of your candidates.
    Bernie Sanders would have been my choice if it hadn’t been for him looking like he could meet his Maker any day now. (Too old) I didn’t like either Clinton or Trump because of corruption allegations on both sides.

    2. I couldn’t justify voting for the lesser of 2 evils

    I don’t like the American judicial, medical, political, social etc. systems. I don’t like racism, or the way most reject equal rights for LGBTQ+.

    I like the fact that I don’t need to worry about my openly gay son on the streets of Toronto. I like the fact that I never paid a penny for my cancer, my hip and knee replacements. I like the freedoms my family receive in spite of being bi-racial. I like that I can afford my multiple medications regardless of my income status. I could go on, but I think catch my drift.

    There is no Utopian society in any of the “free world”. But, I would suggest looking north for some of the answers to your questions. We just might have some insights.

  6. Speak? Okay, here goes. And I’m certain you won’t like it, John; nor will anyone else. I did vote last year, even though I was still beset with depression over the death of my father and my dog within 5 months of each other. But I was also frustrated with the lack of palatable candidates. My choice, Jill Stein, didn’t stand a chance – and I knew that. I just wanted to make a personal statement against the dueling oligarchs that have commandeered the U.S. election system; the one that’s supposed to be a beacon of democracy around the world, but has become a laughingstock on the global political stage.

    Yes, I voted. But what difference does it make? I’m starting to realize that the pessimists may have it right. Have you seen the show “Mr. Robot” on the USA Network? It’s hard to follow, if you haven’t seen it from the beginning. But some elements of it ring true. The wealthiest corporate titans – both here and abroad – appear to be the ones controlling the American presidential election process. A growing body of evidence points to Russian interference in the 2016 elections. How exactly they did so is not obvious now. But Robert Mueller’s investigation may reveal that soon. And then what? What will we do? Will Trump be impeached? If he is, shouldn’t Vice-President Mike Pence be removed from office? As Trump’s running mate, he’d therefore also be ineligible to hold office.

    Here in Texas, it’s become obvious that the Republican Party has deliberately rigged the voting map to favor their candidates. They’re vehemently denying it, of course. But I have to wonder what will (can) be done about it.

    Yes, I voted last year. So what? What good will it do either way?

  7. Hi John. I usually agree with your posts, if not always with the degree of passion demonstrated in them. Maybe, though, it’s time to step back, take a break, to catch a breath or two. While I certainly get the point of your post here, and it’s true that I don’t know where you found 100 million figure used, is it possible that not everyone may have been able to make it to the polls last November? Some were women having babies, some were family members traveling to see family in the hospital–many for the last time,. Some were on long overdue vacations or were sent by their bosses at the last minute to take care of business across the country… and on and on. It’s a shame if your blood boils to the point that you accuse 100 million people of “apathy, laziness, fatigue or spitefulness.” Don’t you suppose that some couldn’t get a ride or were afraid to go because of intimidation? Some may have had to stay home to take care of kids or family, perhaps? Others may have been forced to watch their homes or businesses burn down, or were struggling to put out the fires. And while some may have been too old to get out, others may have just come of age to vote and, feeling they just didn’t know enough to make the “right” choice, opted not to make things worse by choosing the wrong candidate.
    No doubt, you are spot-on with a large number of those 100 million. But please leave the ranting to that bully in the White House.

    • Linda.
      …thanks for your comments. you made some very good points. I also think that John lacks imagination… he should know that those 100 million ‘no-shows’ would NOT have (all) voted for Hillary. The division would have been like the rest of the country –50/50.

      [It’s unlikely that those votes would have given Hillary a win in the states where she lost, in fact there is a good chance that more votes would have gone to Trump.]

      PS to John: there is no such thing as the ‘Popular Vote’. In essence we have ’50’ different elections, and we add up the States’ votes. That way, ALL of America is considered, not just heavily populated Urban areas. [i.e., 2,626 counties voted Trump — 487 counties voted Hillary.]

  8. I have voted in every election since I was able. My grandmothers used to tell about when they were second class citizens and could not vote. They talked about how that right to vote was painfully earned by women not sitting back and “knowing their place”. I am disappointed in every woman who did not vote, did not care or did not bother. They let all those brave women down. Thank you again John for all you do. I have hopes that there are more of you out there so my grandchildren have a world that is worthy of them. Peace and Love,

  9. This has probably been one of the toughest of my 71 years in my wonderful country. I have cried and cried, then tried to understand what was going on in my country that I didn’t even see coming. Then the terrible anger came upon me, then the guilty thoughts of, I want you all that help put this monster in office really pay for what you’ve done. Now, I’m scared I will start feeling total indifference toward anyone that thinks or feels this way. I don’t think I can ever understand why, but I do understand why we have generations that have no emotional connection to our country. I’m old enough to know that until their is passion in someone’s heart, no matter what age, not much really changes. Just telling someone that they stand on other shoulders that came before them is like saying, it will be alright. NO, IT WILL NOT BE ALRIGHT. It is not alright that you don’t understand what your Constitution is all about, it is not alright that you don’t even know what took place to even get that Constitution in place, it is not alright that you don’t know that million of people have died to keep you safe and give you the wonderful freedoms you have, but MOST OF ALL , it is NOT ALRIGHT THAT YOU TAKE ALL OF IT FOR GRANTED THAT IF YOU DO NOT DO YOUR PART,,,,,,,,,YOU MAY LOSE IT ALL. There is so much resistance going on in this country and I think that is good, but we need another resistance…….Our schools barely teach history, much less how we got started and what it took to keep it. My grandson has barely been taught about Hitler and how close we came to losing our freedoms and the lengths he went to rule the world. Why does it take seeing a 911 actually happen on our soil to get new patriots, does it have to happen again for anything to change. Loving your country and knowing how fragile your democracy is , is the only answer that will make anyone believe that JUST ONE VOTE , can make the difference . Everyone is either part of the problem or part of the solution. Choose to be PART OF THE SOLUTION…TAKE YOUR TIME TO VOTE AND WALK OUT OF THAT BOOTH WITH PRIDE AND A SMILE ON YOUR FACE.

  10. I didn’t vote and I have no regrets! I wouldn’t vote for the Bitch, Hillary, even if my life was on the line. I’m glad that she will not be our country’s first female president!

    Trump is doing well! The stock market is the highest it has ever been, joblessness is way down, the job killing regulations have been reversed, people overseas are respecting America again, Isis is on the run, and as of today, the Black home ownership is at it’s highest ever!

    This man is kicking butt! Hillary can kiss my entire backside! I’m glad that she is not and shall never be President!

    • Bobo,

      Well, it’s interesting that during Obama’s term, Trump made a big deal of the jobless figures being fake, and there’s some truth in that. However, now that he’s in, he basks in the glow of the, admittedly improved, but nevertheless-still-fake, numbers, without a murmur about them.

      He also chided Obama with “Our friends don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us.” True or not of Obama, it’s certainly become (more) true under Trump. He worried our NATO allies by first calling the organization “obsolete”, and later gave his less-than-full-hearted support to it, and demanding payments from them by totally misunderstanding how NATO funding works. And it’s clear that Putin and Kim don’t fear us. In fact, Trump is a laughingstock among friends and foes alike: his obvious narcissism, and his well-documented disregard for any concept of truth, including contradicting himself constantly, without even apparently being aware of it, make him supremely unfit for the office.

      Not only so, his “Tax Reform Bill” is designed to benefit the already-wealthy at the expense of the ordinary people he constantly claimed to champion during the campaign. Guess what? The tax reductions for the middle class will expire shortly after the next election, and become tax increases. Also, the business-friendly so-called “job-killing regulations” will make life even harder for ordinary working people, who will lose valuable protections from predatory corporations, which already rely on Welfare to supplement wages that are below the poverty level.

      I criticize Trump, but I don’t use foul language about him. Anyway, as you say, Hillary is history, so I don’t see the point of it.

      I could go on, but I suspect you’re not listening.

  11. John and Folks. They did not vote simply because they did not care. That is what they always do in most elections. There is a widespread feeling in this country that our problems are so great that each individual is powerless in the face of those problems—so why even try. It would be tempting to call it “apathy,” but I am not sure that it is the right word that captures what is really going on. I think the proper word would be “hopelessness,” so why even waste the time to vote is the situation in our country is so obviously hopeless and one person’s vote is just a tiny drop in an ocean of people.

    I guess my only answer to these people would be:

    “Yes, I see your point. But the whole idea of voting is that if each and every one of you 100,000,000 would just get off your ass and go vote, your collective votes would make a difference. It is not your individual vote all by itself that changes things. It is the collective votes of you—plus 99,999,999 other votes from people who feel just as hopeless and disgusted as you do. However, for that to happen, each and every individual one of YOU has to get off your can next November, go to the polls, and actually vote.”

    I have a number of new and interesting posts up on the “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism” blog if anyone would like to visit. The safe link to click is as follows:

    Merry Christmas to everyone….and Ho!!! Ho!!! Ho!!!

  12. Yeah…how about NO?

    They had a choice between two assholes – and they chose to stay home

    Can’t blame them for that

    Give them better candidates – ones who actually give a shit about the working class, and the poor, and people of color – or don’t cry when they don’t vote

    The Republicans serve Wall Street, the Defense contractors, the oil industry and the nation’s small business/sweatshop owners

    The Democrats serve Wall Street (common denominator between both parties), Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the Ivy League colleges (and their endowments) and the “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” salaried professional elite

    Neither party speaks for the working class, or the poor, or for Blacks or Latinos (although the Democrats treat unionized workers and Blacks like voting chattel obligated to vote for them, and the Republicans cynically appeal to White populism….except when it comes to tax breaks for the rich – and both parties worked together to crush the American labor union movement)

    So, until we get a party that speaks for the working class…please don’t ask us to vote for the corporate politicians

    • I think Gregory’s on to something — establishing a viable third party that does address a broader range of citizens, giving them an option to exercise votes for candidates who will actually address their needs and desires.

      That said, he lost me in his last statement. It’s a passive complaint, that “until we get a party,” he doesn’t want to be asked to vote for a candidate he cannot support. In fact, a third party is forming: it’s being created out of the Indivisible resistance movement, and it is having major impact on public policy and Congress.

      Nothing is going to happen unless WE MAKE IT HAPPEN. We, the people, who number in the hundreds of millions, cannot continue with the expectation that we will be presented with reasonable options coming from the two very well-established political parties, when they have shown us with their actions that the monied interests of corporations and the ultra-rich neo-aristocracy are all they care about.

      Change starts with each individual, with the decision to take a direct, positive action toward an outcome. As Judge Damon J. Keith, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, once wrote, “Democracy dies in the dark.” I would add to that what Albert Einstein noted, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

      I hope you’ll vote at the next opportunity you have.

  13. While this is *generally* a good idea, it’s unlikely to have changed the outcome. Statistics would probably be the same division for each voting demographic and therefore close to the same outcome. The only way this would have been changed *Might* have been if people in low voting turnout demographics, with a high demographic voting split, showed up more.

    In this case – Minority turnout, and millenial turnout, was much lower than white turnout. Yet each of those groups overwhelmingly favored Clinton. Had they shown up at the same turnout rate as whites, the election *Might* have gone a different way. But it might not have. Gerrymandering in this country is so overwhelming, and so controlling of the Electoral College, that it might have made zero difference if EVERYONE had turned out.

    So it’s great to advocate something different, but just “showing up” may not be it.

  14. Sadly, the apathy of this past election was magnified by recent voter registration drives. All too often there is a knock on the door of someone who can’t be bothered to register, not someone who has been otherwise denied the ability to register ~ so someone registers with no intention to vote at all.

    I don’t know the answer to this dilemma as I would much rather have compulsory voting in elections over a week-long process with exclusions only handed out for medical reasons.

    Our last General Election was a National Disgrace and not (just) because of who won, but because of the horrifically low voter turnout.

    I am a firm believer in this saying: “Those who don’t vote have cast their vote for whomever won.”

    By their silence, they have given their blessing to those whose votes are magnified by their absence. 100 million people may not have cast votes for Donald Trump, but they definitely decided they were going to accept whomever did win because it was within their power to alter the outcome and most of them actively chose to NOT do so.

    This is a Democratic Republic for Pete’s Sake and we only diminish our vote by not casting it. If you don’t like your choices, vote ‘No Confidence’. Even if your State doesn’t count ‘write in’ votes, it will have to record how many votes WERE NOT COUNTED which is a voter revolt all its own. Do something, or accept the government others have decided to give you.

    Peace be with you all and Happy Holidays.

  15. Pingback: For Alabama Voters – And The Rest of Us - JaxPolitix - Disambiguation from the political and social musings of Jack Altschuler

  16. I didn’t vote because I no longer care. The country is going to hell in a handbasket and as far as I’m concerned….let it burn. We have corrupt jackasses on both sides and votes don’t really matter. They’re all owned by special interest groups. My opinion is that the whole government needs to be taken down somehow, throw ALL the bums out and start over…however, when people like Mitch McConnell are in office for decades there’s no real hope for any sea change in government. So…let it burn. Let it turn into the American Revolution part 2. And…before anyone yells at me about patriotism, I’m the child of immigrants (first generation on one side, second on the other) and am the daughter, daughter in law, wife, sister in law and mother of veterans…my patriotism goes only as far as wanting all Vets taken care of while they’re serving and afterwards. The rest of the idiots can go to hell.

  17. Fine if you want to hold on to your frustrations and vent on those who don ‘t vote, but there are some of us who have principles we are following. I personally don’t think the outcome would have been much different in the state I live in, might have been even redder. I struggle with the fact that we usually end up voting for the lesser of two evils, not for something positive. My preferred candidate never gets past the primaries and I struggle with voting for just a party at the end. Our system had this coming for a long time and I think there will be a lot of this kind of selection in the ensuing elections until the internal corrosion causes a systemic collapse. Sorry to be a voice of doom but I just can’t come up with another scenario unless there is a major outbreak of people caring for others that are not of their own tribe.

  18. You express exactly what I see and feel. Thanks..

    John, your site is extremely distracting and infected with horrible flashing ads, stupid videos and one an ad that swallows the entire page that requires me to completely bail so I don’t accidentally click something. No other blogs I go to has this to the extent yours does so I don’t think it’s just my iPad. Sigh.

    I am still here. As of right now I’m taking a News Vacation as the despair and fear is too great. I guess I still have hope so I think cleansing myself from the poison and the scary feeling I’m in some kind of Trump/GOP reality show where we are just unpaid cast members with no benefits or rights will recede a bit and I can get closer to Jesus. Since the horror is coming from all directions and places I am overwhelmed. I don’t believe LOVE is just a feeling but ACTION too. Where do I fit to pushback? Which issue can He use me? There is just so much destruction going on. Truly, God help us.

  19. Read every one of your posts. You might want to make a book out of them.
    America has lost to apathy and lack of political interest. There is no involvement and this time ignorance, hatred and total disregard for human beings took charge of our country.
    Not wanted to sound pessimistic but I find difficult to imagine that our beloved country will raise from the debacle we are witnessing, in spite of our resistance…

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