-- OriginalOwner_ writes:
The Center for American Progress reports
On [February 27], days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own."I believe it's an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we're seeing real violence around that", Sessions said. "Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think and there's big money involved."In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized.Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales in Colorado. Overall property crime dropped by 8.9 percent [PDF] in the same period there, according to figures from the Drug Policy Alliance. In Washington, violent crime rates dropped by 10 percent [PDF] from 2011 to 2014. Voters legalized recreational marijuana there in 2012.Medical marijuana laws, which have a longer track record for academics than recreational pot legalization, are also associated with stable or falling violent crime rates. In one 2014 study of the 11 states that legalized medical pot from 1990 to 2006, there was no increase in the seven major categories of violent crime and "some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime, namely homicide and assault."[...] Elsewhere in his remarks, Sessions unwittingly made the case against treating pot activity like serious crime. "You can't sue somebody for drug debt". he said. "The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that."Legalizing, regulating, and taxing the sale of marijuana is the surest way to remedying that exact tendency for pot commerce to trigger violent score-settling. Legalization invites pot business into the light, granting cannabusinesses at least partial access to official modes of recourse when they are defrauded.
On [February 27], days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own.
"I believe it's an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we're seeing real violence around that", Sessions said. "Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think and there's big money involved."
In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized.
Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales in Colorado. Overall property crime dropped by 8.9 percent [PDF] in the same period there, according to figures from the Drug Policy Alliance. In Washington, violent crime rates dropped by 10 percent [PDF] from 2011 to 2014. Voters legalized recreational marijuana there in 2012.
Medical marijuana laws, which have a longer track record for academics than recreational pot legalization, are also associated with stable or falling violent crime rates. In one 2014 study of the 11 states that legalized medical pot from 1990 to 2006, there was no increase in the seven major categories of violent crime and "some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime, namely homicide and assault."
[...] Elsewhere in his remarks, Sessions unwittingly made the case against treating pot activity like serious crime. "You can't sue somebody for drug debt". he said. "The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that."
Legalizing, regulating, and taxing the sale of marijuana is the surest way to remedying that exact tendency for pot commerce to trigger violent score-settling. Legalization invites pot business into the light, granting cannabusinesses at least partial access to official modes of recourse when they are defrauded.
8 states and the District of Columbia have legalised marijuana for recreational use.Ever see anyone use cannabis and become more aggressive rather than more mellow?
Note: ThinkProgress redirects all accesses of their pages and will attach tracking numbers. I have made sure that those are not in the URLs.
The opinions of all the eligible voters who didn't bother voting don't count.
Yes, they do. I refused to vote my entire life till this election, and my opinion very much fucking counts. It informs MY WALLET, and that fucking counts. It forms my decisions to obey laws, it forms my decisions to support whatever initiatives they attempt, it forms my decisions as a citizen and how I will operate in this country.
The opinions of that 74% very much fucking matter because they didn't just disappear after "failing" to vote. Not everyone that is protesting right now voted. I protested plenty in the past, and I never voted, but abstained. Not all protests have to be in a street with signs either. Civil disobedience?
When will people start to fucking understand that ABSTAINING IS VOTING? Do you truly not understand that a very large portion of that 74% are not giving an opinion, but a vote of a no confidence in the system?
That, and the vote is a delusion anyways. Before, just like now, the votes are irrelevant when WHAT we vote on is CONTROLLED by those in power. Voting is a purely delusional activity, and I participated in it out of desperation. Nothing more.
When will people start to fucking understand that ABSTAINING IS VOTING?
Because abstaining isn't voting. You talk about voting with your wallet. Please tell me when taxes became discretionary spending by individuals.
Policies are driven by politicians and politicians don't care about people who don't vote.
IMHO, you don't have a right to complain if you didn't vote.
You are the one who needs to understand that the USA is in this situation because of you and millions like you.
No, FUCK YOU! Abstaining IS VOTING YOU STUPID PRICK!!!!!!!!!!!
Why the FUCK should I be responsible for anything when the choices are between a shit sandwich and a douche? You sit there like a retarded fucking asshole screaming at me. "EdIII!!! derp, derpy, derp derp you didn't choose between them! You can't complain!"
Yes, I can you stupid fuck. I get to complain ABOUT THE VOTE ITSELF! The voting is fucked up and wrong and I will not be responsible when WHAT AND WHO WE GET TO VOTE FOR IS OUTSIDE OF OUR FUCKING CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We DO NOT HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!
You give me a vote that makes fucking sense, with people actually worthy for the fucking job, and I'll show up.
Until then, shut the fuck up, because my ABSTAINING IS A VOTE! I'm voting for a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN THE ENTIRE SYSTEM.
You sit there like a delusional prick thinking that progress can be made by choosing the shit sandwhich, and if only EdIII had chosen the shit sandwhich with me, things would be better. Therefore, it's EDIII's fault when the douche makes your life miserable.
No, you stupid, stupid fucker. Not voting is a vote!!!!!!
Stupid person is stupid. Film at 11.
Yeah, and that's all you can say instead of responding to the actual arguments you stupid fuck.
You make zero fucking difference with your vote. It's just a delusional dance where you believe you had any control over the dance floor, or your dance card.
You're wrong about voting, you're wrong about the value of abstaining, and I bet you are not anywhere after the fucking vote are you?
Do you call your Senators? I bet your follow through game fucking sucks, and I'M THE ONE who picks up after you by calling and writing all the time.
OK, I'll give you a more reasoned answer.
Abstaining is NOT VOTING. Go look it up in a dictionary if you need any help with this.
But, more importantly, what message does abstaining send? It sends the message: "choose whatever method you want to fuck me, and just do it, I don't care". Abstaining doesn't send a no-confidence message that anyone will hear. No one cares about you, because you chose not to send a message.
I'll explain why voting is important, even if your choice is between a cat turd and a dog turd. You have to recognize that there is a long game in play and that things may be more important then the current election.
Now, IMHO, whether the President is a (R) or (D) doesn't really matter. What matters is what these labels mean. What matters is where is the midpoint between left and right wings. The Koch brothers have recognized this and developed the Tea Party to move the center of politics to the right. Republican politicians know that they can shift right and not risk losing votes, so that's what they do. Democrats then move to the right to be nearer the center and now the center has moved further right. Rinse and repeat.
How do you fix this? Well, if you don't vote, you won't fix it. Your "vote" is for the situation to continue. The only answer is to vote for the most liberal politicians that you can choose and keep voting this way. You are sending a message to your politicians that moving to the left will result in more votes. If enough people do this, then the center can be pulled to the left.
Also, primaries. Voting in the primaries is just (if not more) important than voting in the final election. Again, you can send a message by voting, but send nothing by abstaining.
Abstain and you are "voting" to keep the same broken system. Abstain and politicians don't care about your opinion. Abstain and no one cares about you.
Liberals have decided to throw LGBT under the bus in favor of Muslims. Er, maybe throw them off the roof. This also doesn't bring us women's rights, in case you hadn't heard of the middle east. Going conservative is safer for LGBT and women. Going liberal is a vote to oppress them. Rape culture in the USA is not really a thing, but it is 100% real in the places the rapefugees come from. Oh, the Sikh guy that was shot? Muslims do that too, in a more organized way.
Liberals have also decided to throw blacks under the bus. Blacks have been hurt worst by illegal aliens. Illegals get hired, while "scary" blacks go unemployed.
Liberal-conservative is not really the best way to divide things. Better is globalist-nationalist. The globalists will gladly throw all of us little people under the bus. US representative Pelosi didn't start out rich when she entered politics. When you look at Pelosi's net worth and her salary in the house of representatives, it becomes clear that she has been in office for over 1000 years. Um, no, she's just corrupt to the tune of nearly 200 million dollars. Outsourcing works out well for these people, directly or via "campaign contributions", while American culture dies and the American people slip into poverty.
I know people in the US find this hard to believe, but there are more than 2 choices to choose from.If the small, insignificant, parties start getting even 2% of the vote: the "big 2" will start adopting their policies.
Fine, you play in your little rigged games with the delusion of the "long-game" as you say.
Meanwhile, I'm going to be doing every single thing I can do to resist them at all costs, and in all ways. Voting is fucking meaningless. Surrounding their houses and families with protestors is what means something. Making sure that they can't sit in their offices without thousands of people chanting at them, means something.
You sit there and fucking vote. I'll be the one actually doing something.
It seems you are angry about the fact that once we get the General Election, it's a choice between a giant douche or a shit sandwich. Abstaining at that point is valid, but the problem is, you are perfectly camouflaged as being part of the group of people obsessed with Justin Bieber and nobody else. A better protest vote is to vote 3d party because you are then very clear in your opinion rather than ambiguous.
But setting that aside, if a person becomes interested in the race only in the GE, it is already too late. The time when your vote can make a difference in knocking out all the douches and shits, is in the primaries. If the primaries would generate as much interest as the general, we might have fewer crap candidates.
I missed the primary. I probably would've voted for somebody lame like Jeb Bush, figuring that Trump couldn't take down the felon... but then he did!!!
America has been saved. My complaints are trivial (death of net neutrality, not banning all the Muslim nations, lame wall instead of landmines...) compared to the horrors that Clinton would have foisted upon us.
I agree that you should vote in the primaries.
That can do only so much, though, to knock out the worst candidates, if the worst candidates have the backing of the people that run the election. For example, on the Democratic side, the worst candidate can lose the vote by a substantial margin and still win the nomination if they have the backing of the largely unelected "super-delegates" - Hillary Clinton nearly did this in 2008. And election officials in many US states bend the rules to try to ensure their favorite candidate wins.
You will never get a vote that makes fucking sense as long as politicians know that most people won't vote. They simply have to pander to a small base that will get them elected. You want to fix the system, get everyone to vote. It would not even matter who won, if we had a near 100% turnout for an election it would frighten the politicians more than anything else. By not voting, you are voting, you are voting to continue a broken system.
Policies are driven by politicians and politicians don't care about people who don't vote.
In all fairness, they also don't care about people who *do* vote. So ... there's that.
So you're opposed to the first amendment? If you meant it another way, what exactly do you mean and what practical effect does it have on reality? Are you saying their opinions are automatically invalid simply because they did not vote? That would be a non sequitur. Are you saying you would disagree with their opinions automatically simply because they didn't vote? Then that would make you an idiot. Are you simply saying they are foolish? Then just say so. Regardless of what you mean, the 'You didn't vote, so you have no right to complain.' argument needs to die; at best it's just unclear, and at worst it's outright illogical.
IMHO, you don't have a right to complain if you didn't vote.So you're opposed to the first amendment?
So you're opposed to the first amendment?
Yes, obviously, the first amendment also protects the rights of the weak minded idiots who don't vote, just as it protects (unfortunately) the rights of large, wealthy corporations.
My point is that people who don't vote have no moral right to complain.
Oh, yes, we fucking do.
What you are saying is that because we recognize the game is rigged, because we recognize that there is no way to win, because we recognize that it's not in our best interests, and finally STOP playing the game, that we don't get to complain?
No, fuck you. I get to fucking complain, and protest, and perform civil disobedience as much as I want to. It's my moral right to fight rigged games filled with cheats and liars. It absolutely fucking is.
The game is fucking rigged. Why the fuck would you still play in it? Then why the fuck would you insult and demean the people pointing out that you are the fool playing in a game that will never benefit you?
It never has. Americans, specifically the poor and middle class, have never, not once, not even remotely, been benefited by voting and politics. Only when there is massive strife, deaths, and bloody riots, have American's lives temporarily improved.
The system acknowledges your abstention. Your lack of opinion is duly noted and we will all work tirelessly day and night wondering what you were thinking about. Thank you so much.
You don't need to wonder what I'm fucking thinking about. All you need to do is pick up the fucking phone, or read your email, or pick up the letter I sent.
While I don't vote, I DO VERY MUCH CALL MY SENATORS. I call Congressmen. I leave messages for the chief of police.
I'm moving and active in the community you stupid fuck, and putting plenty of energy into the proceedings.
The only thing I will not be forced to do is participate in the delusion that a choice between two things I don't control, and don't believe in, suddenly make a difference and are the only thing entitling me to participate.
No, I get to participate while not voting. Voting is just ONE of the activities that make a difference, and is fact, JUST THE BEGINNING. People don't fucking follow through after the vote and HOUND the FUCK out of their Senator or Congressmen. You can't vote on Monday and not also be there on Friday asking the Senator what he has accomplished and what his plans are.
What we need, and I help provide, are the slammed phone systems in Washington, D.C and other offices. I'm the follow through that you stupid voting fuckers can't be bothered to do.
No. Abstaining is not voting. The reason is because there are numerous reasons why a person wouldn't vote. For example:1) They love both major candidates and have no problem with either one winning.2) They were apathetic and didn't see how the president could affect their lives for better or worse.3) They tried to vote, but were unable to (couldn't find transportation, were confused with date or location, etc)4) They tried to vote, but were denied (improper identification, racial profiling, etc)5) They hate all candidates and think the system is rigged and pointless
Each of those has a different connotation, message, and "way to fix it" if that was a goal.
A vote of "no confidence" (keeping in mind that that is a technical term and not applicable how the US government works) is to vote and put in a write-in of some kind. A lesser version which is probably more productive is to vote for a third candidate who aligns with what you believe. For example, I guarantee you right now that if Stein or Johnson had gotten 20% of the popular vote, politics would be playing out FAR differently than it is right now.
Frankly, if you didn't vote, your vote didn't count. That's not to say you should be dismissed, but you don't count and politicans care far less about you. Ideologically it's because they don't know how to read your confusing message, and pragmatically it's because they have little to gain from your support. You could become a rabid fan and vote in the future, but as an retailer will tell you, it is far easier and more profitable to get somebody who has bought $100 shoes in the past to come in and buy another pair than to try to get a completely new customer in to buy their first pair.
Nope. Voting is just the beginning. You claim that they have no information about me based on the vote. WRONG.
When the vote is on Monday, I'm the one there the next week calling on his staff in his office to tell him my DEMANDS upon him as a CONSTITUENT.
That is far more effective than the fucking vote. The vote was bullshit from the beginning, the politician knew that, and only had to dupe you enough to get in. What happens afterward is what truly informs him about how his constituency feels.
Your opinion is utterly worthless if you don't vote. There's no way anyone can figure out what you want or what your grievance is if you don't bother to make your voice heard. And no, what you vote on is NOT controlled by those in power, not completely. You always have the option to write-in a name, including "Mickey Mouse". People who do that at least are making their voice heard, that they bothered to show up, that they care enough to spend the time needed to vote, but are completely unhappy with the choices on the ballot. Your lazy ass couldn't even be bothered to do that.
You don't have to vote for one of the mainstream choices. You can always vote for one of the numerous third-party choices, or you can write in a name on the ballot, or even cast a ballot with nothing selected. If 2/3 of the voters cast ballots with "Mickey Mouse" on them, that would be a real wake-up call, and cast the political system into disarray, causing real changes. 2/3 of the voters not even bothering to cast a vote doesn't do that; they're just ignored as lazy, apathetic fools. And if 2/3 of the voters cast ballots for some 3rd-part candidate no one expected to win, we'd also have real changes, just like we're getting now with Trump, where a whole bunch of voters cast votes for someone the establishment and those in power never expected to have a chance of winning, and now he has (and the results aren't pretty). So while lazy fools like you can't be bothered to vote, even for an outsider, people who were angry and *could* be bothered to vote now have voted for a different outsider they like who'll (IMO) cause real problems for the country.
Sorry dude, but fuck you. My vote to abstain is not worthless.
I'm not lazy. You can go fuck yourself with that. When somebody is so angry and disillusioned that they REFUSE to participate in a illusion of a choice, that is not laziness. That is the conscious recognition that you are playing in a rigged game where the only purpose of it is serving those in power.
You want to claim laziness? Where the fuck were you 4 months after you voted? Did you write in a letter? Did you have weekly conversations with their staff about your demands as a constituent? Did you participate in canvassing neighborhoods with flyers? Have you been at a protest? Firing off a single vote doesn't fucking impress me at all, and YOU PEOPLE are the fucking problem.
Voting is just one tiny part of the participation in government, and is the most pointless out all of them when we DO NOT CONTROL THE WHO AND WHAT OF VOTING. We don't control that.
The only exception is when we get to vote on a what and not a who, and even in those cases, you still see laws that are proposed with lies and mental games to trick people into voting for one thing or another. Or some rider exists where pork is being handed out. Very few votes are legitimate votes that weren't designed to game the system in some way.
The problem, as the GP explained, is that staying home does not communicate your grievances. It is very easy to claim that everybody staying home does not care: even if it is not true.
Spoiling your ballot leaves a paper trail. It shows that you are willing to show up and vote: if only there was a viable candidate to choose from.
Myself, I advocate voting third-party. That requires some extra research, since the media is apparently not going to tell you about the candidates.
Considering that third parties don't usually get over 5% a piece, the best way IMO is to vote for the third party that's doing the best in order to push them towards that 15% threshold, regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
One problem with strategic voting is that polls are wrong 1 time out of 20 (corollary to being within the margin of error 19 times out of 20).
Canada has 308 ridings. Last election somebody was advocating strategically voting for the candidate most likely to win in about 12 "close" ridings. The only problem: 308 x 0.05 (5%) = 15.4 or 15 ridings. You would expect the polls to be wrong in that many ridings.
Polls often ignore third-party candidates as well.
I'm not talking about strategic voting. Voting for a third party that has virtually zero chance of winning doesn't do anything other than make a statement.
In voting methods, tactical voting (or strategic voting or sophisticated voting or insincere voting) occurs, in elections with more than two candidates, when a voter supports another candidate more strongly than his or her sincere preference in order to prevent an undesirable outcome.
It sounds like in order to qualify as strategic voting, there has to be a chance in hell of the candidate you're voting for actually winning.
If all you are doing is making a statement, why vote for a candidate you don't like?
... the best way IMO is to vote for the third party that's doing the best in order to push them towards that 15% threshold, regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
How do you know which third-party is "doing the best" without polls?
in order to push them towards that 15% threshold
The televised debate/campaign finance one.
a candidate you don't like
regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
Oh, *that's* what you meant. I wasn't sure why you were replying to me from my first reading of your post.
So, do you have 5 fucking minutes? Put up, or shut up, mother fucker.
Mike McGuire - 916-651-4002 or 707-576-2771You can call up and tell them whether or not you support SB562 (Single payer medical).
Lazy huh? I'll send you a comment every week of who you can be calling. It's not limited to people like McGuire. Feel like calling the cops that were abusing the fuck out of people in the NODAPL protests?
I'll give you their number.
I find your ideas interesting, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
What said your vote was the only way to communicate or be involved in civic duty? open your eyes.
Voting is one way to make your voice heard.
There are others - many more effective than voting, but they generally take more time and effort than voting.
Personally, I feel obligated to vote, but what I would really like to see is the possibility of a "Vote Against." Not a vote cast for the opponent of a candidate (which is what I usually do), but a straight, -1 vote against a particular candidate. Or, even less likely to be implemented, a "None of the Above" vote that splits my one negative vote amongst all of the candidates for a particular office.
That could allow for protest votes without requiring me to vote for the lesser evil, so to speak.
Maybe it could require a minimum threshold for total votes below which no one can take office, triggering a new election. Of course, that would lengthen the campaign season, which would be almost worse...
I'm down for that. I'm not lazy, just disillusioned with the voting process itself.
If I did have the option to vote something like, "No, you all suck", I would be at the voting booths every single time. As it stands, my only way to tell them the true depths of my disapproval is to actually pick up the telephone and call them.
Which I do.
As it stands, my only way to tell them the true depths of my disapproval is to actually pick up the telephone and call them.
And I vote, but I don't call --I guess that between the two of us we make one active citizen. :)
That's fine, but I wish you engaged in the follow through and hounded the fuck out of your candidate day and night. I'm not going to ever vote for a candidate again. I'll vote on measures, or initiatives that make sense. Otherwise, it's all a rigged game, and "my" player was cheated out the game anyways. I don't play in rigged games. I play to destroy the playing field of a rigged game underneath the players that are doing it.
I didn't vote for Hillary. I voted for Trump to *not win*. There is a huge difference between the two.
I'm done with voting. It takes energy away from resisting in every way, shape, and form that I can. What frustrates me is that people believe voting is actually resisting, when it's only the dancing with devil in the pale moonlight.
When you show up at their offices screaming, when you surround their homes and their families, when you make sure that their phone systems are slammed 24/7, when you shutdown streets with thousands of protestors, when you use your wallet to not support the Establishment, when you hack and dox the fuck out them to bring sunlight to the cockroaches.... that's resisting.
Anything else is playing their game, and they own every aspect of the playing field. They make the rules selling the delusion that we were involved in their creation. There is simply no hope of winning whatsoever. They made sure of that. Which is why we show up and attempt to thwart every single one of their goals of initiatives. Resistance is all we have.... until that blossoms into civil war. At that point, we will find true and meaningful change and the possibility of returning back to an America that is truly for the people and by the people.
You make a good point.
Maybe voting should be the startpoint of the process, and maybe the followthrough is what provides meaning to the vote, especially if you stand in opposition.
My question would be, how do you engage with your elected officials in a meaningful way, one that will bring some sort of constructive progress, or at least will result in him or her listening in a serious way?
Because, and forgive me my saying it, but the strategy of constant attack you laid out in your comment, while emotionally satisfying, seems to me to be more likely to cause anger and retrenchment, which would result in the reinforcing of those things you are protesting out of sheer contrariness.
Protests bring out the fact that you are frustrated, yes, but, judging from the comments that I am hearing around me (I live in strong Trump supporter country, oh my, do I ever), your protests are viewed with bemusement ("I don't know what they're protesting about"); looked down on with revulsion ("in my day, people were more polite"), or seen with satisfaction or glee ("well, now they know how we feel", "now we've got a bit of our own back"). They don't get it, and, because you don't have a channel to communicate directly with them in their silos, you have very little chance of changing their votes--and They Do Vote.
And chivaree/charivari, while once an effective tactic, in this age of sound-cancelling technologies and insulation, has been reduced to a memory of wedding rituals of a time long past, at least in my town. :)
So--Given that some sort of action is necessary to bring meaning to my vote, what do you do that's been effective? Do you ever actually get to talk to your congresscritters (or their staffers) directly/one-on-one? Do you write letters or emails, or do petitions? Do you attend legislative sessions or town hall forums? Do you work with any organizations (also, are they effective)? My professional organizations and a couple of other organizations with which I am affiliated do lobbying, but it mostly consists of asking us to forward form letters, and, besides the fact that blockquotes rarely reflect my thoughts and concerns, pre-written material has always seemed to me to be readily ignorable.
No, if we had a system like Australia where voting is compulsory (which does in fact have a "none of the above" IIRC), *then* abstaining would "be voting." A lack of vote for us is indistinguishable between 1) boycott, 2) laziness, 3) uninformedness.
No, if we had a system like Australia where voting is compulsory
What do you mean by "we"? Are we not all Australians here? I thought we were talking about Yanks.
ABSTAINING IS VOTING
If somehow your abstaining counted for anything (for instance, if one needed to win a majority of ELIGIBLE voters, not just ones that actually voted) you'd have a point. Unfortunately the way it works is that your abstaining simply doesn't count for anything other than a statistic. It simply does not affect the outcome of the election in any way.
I wish it did; this travesty of an election would have gone differently.
So you can arbitrarily decide whose opinions count and under what conditions? Who made you an authority over such a thing?
Are you stupid? If you don't vote, in a democratic system, then by definition your opinion doesn't count, because you haven't done anything to choose the leadership.
We don't live in a democratic system; we have an oligarchy. There is massive bias against third parties, we have a winner-take-all system, and we have a staggering amount of corruption in our government. Most voters vote for 'the lesser of two evils'. You cannot call such a system "democratic" just because you technically can vote; it's barely democratic at all.
Anyway, there are other ways to make your opinions heard than just by voting. Voting actually does not communicate much, because you're not voting for individual policies, but for an individual who supports many different things that you may or may not support. Many people vote for candidates they mostly disagree with simply because they believe said candidates are the 'lesser evil'. You need to make your opinion heard in other ways if you want it to truly count. You're likely deluding yourself if you think your opinion counts just because you voted, or that someone's opinion doesn't count just because they did not vote.
Voting is the only way to actually *force* your opinion to become policy. All these other "ways to make your opinions heard" do not. You can scream at politicians all you want, but they're perfectly free to ignore you and tell you to take a hike. If you're not even voting for them, and you're not voting against them either, then why should they listen to you? You mean nothing to them, and you have no power over them because you've specifically chosen to not exercise that power.
Yes, we have a two party system that gives little power to third parties. But there is very little evidence of any actual voting fraud or election fraud. *We* are electing these people into power, willingly. If all the whiners who refuse to vote got together and voted for a third party, that party would have a lot more power (getting over 15% gets you matching funds IIRC), and if enough people voted that way, the third party would get elected. Have you forgotten what happened in Minnesota a while ago? Everyone was so mad at the two incumbent candidates and their parties that they voted for Jesse Ventura, who won in a big surprise. Something a little similar has happened now with Trump. When people are mad and vote against the mainstream candidates, we get outsiders in power. (Of course, with Trump it appears this isn't really a good thing, but time will tell I suppose.) So claiming your vote is useless is obviously stupid, as the Trumpists have proven by getting their guy elected against all expectations.
In the end, the *only* thing that matters is voting. You can yell at politicians all you want, you can talk to other citizens all you want, but if none of you actually *vote* for what you want, you're not going to get it. So yes, your opinion does not count if you don't vote. If you disagree, feel free to prove how anyone has actually effected real political change without either voting or using violence. In any political system, there are only two ways to effect change: through the mechanisms already set up in the system (i.e., voting, for a nominally democratic system), or by using violence to bypass the existing system (i.e., revolution). None of you are talking about revolution here, so that only leaves voting. (There's also a third option, which is utilizing the judiciary, but none of you are talking about bringing lawsuits against the government either. You're just talking about whining loudly.)
> Voting is the only way to actually *force* your opinion to become policy.
Geek binary thinking failure mode on display.
Politics isn't about force, its about persuasion. And all the stuff you denounce as ineffective is how politics actually works when it isn't an extreme edge case. Focus on the general case because that's something you do have the ability to affect.