Would You Give Up Your Right To Vote For A Million Dollars?
Published 11/15/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
I was listening to the radio this morning and came upon an interesting discussion about the upcoming U.S. elections. The question proposed was this - If you could give up your right to ever vote again in an election for a million dollars-tax free, would you do it?
The seemingly innocuous question brought up certain fascinating issues. Just how much do we value our constitutionally protected right to choose our own leaders? With the U.S. election coming next November in 2008, I have already sort of decided who I plan to cast my vote for to become the next president of the United States. But would I be willing to give up that right forever for a million dollars?
The radio show fielded numerous answers from callers and the overwhelming response was an emphatic - yes. The majority of callers indicated they would be willing to give up their right to vote for the money. About 70 percent said they would take the money and only 30 percent refused to give up their voting rights.
Just Show Me The Money
As an American, as much as I'd love to think or say that I cherish and value my right to vote so much that no amount of money could ever make me give up that right, I have to say that the reality is that we live in a "show me the money" society. I think, a million dollars would probably do more for my own personal life than the results of any election ever could. With a million dollars, I could buy a house, set myself up for life, and support my family and loved ones on a real and inescapably personal level. I could pay off my student loans, credit card debts, and invest the remaining amount for my future retirement.
Even if I were concerned that by giving up my right to vote that I would be permanently giving up my right to ever have my opinions heard, don't forget that with a million dollars, I could easily buy television and radio airtime and have my views projected into the public forum more powerfully than my single vote ever could. My single vote is only one of many, but money is money. With money, I could buy political sway and affect greater change in society than I could with a single lonesome vote. But I do respect and understand those who feel they could never part with their right to vote for any amount of monetary gain.
Just for the record, I have voted in nearly every single significant election since I was eligible to do so when I hit 18. But frankly I don't recall anytime in my life when a single vote truly made a difference in any election. The last time that happened probably was in high school.
Would anyone really forfeit a million dollars tax-free just to keep their right to vote? For real? Does the ultimate result of the election really impact how you live your day to day life on such a significant level for you to give up the possibly of living a more financially secure life? Not including those who are already very wealthy and don't need the additional money anymore, I just find it hard to believe there really are people like that anymore.
It's a Sign of the Times
Unfortunately, it's also probably an indicator that we have turned into a more selfish and cynical society. I think many people, including myself, often feel that our vote really doesn't make much of a difference anymore. Some feel that the media and special interest groups ultimately sway the course of elections anyway.
But I am curious to hear what others would do. Would you be willing to forfeit your vote permanently for the remainder of your life for a million tax-free dollars right now?
Side Note: The funniest call came from a woman who responded that as long as she was married she would probably take the money because her husband and her vote always canceled each other out every election anyway. But she added that if she were single, she might consider holding onto her vote and forsake the money because she is so opinionated and would want her opinion heard! :)