The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

Editorial Free

No Vote, No Complaining

Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN

Next month, we get another opportunity in the United States to set the direction of our cities, states, and nation. This is not a political statement. This is a citizenry statement. Please vote!

When my daughter was growing up, she frequently heard me say, “If you don't vote, you don't get to complain.” What I meant by that was this: Citizens of the United States are granted the privilege of voting. However, if you check local, state, or national results any year, the percentage of people who vote falls far short of the number of people eligible to vote. Some people were challenged to vote because they had to secure transportation, plan for an early ballot or wait in line (and if they lived in one of our northern states and the weather was bad, that could be a real challenge), or their employer wouldn't allow them to arrive late or leave early to vote. The list goes on. Yet, all those reasons still do not account for our low voter turnout.

Although I am saddened by the low turnout, I am concerned when I listen to someone complaining (often loudly and long) about taxes, road repair, or policies (including health care), to name a few examples. I have made comments about voting and most commonly the response I hear is something to do with being too busy to do so or an expression that their voting would not make a difference. Thus, I developed my philosophy of “no vote, no complaining.”

I knew my daughter had absorbed my message when, years later, we were talking on the phone (on Election Day) and she said, “Well, I have to go because I want to vote before I go to work and I know if I don't vote, I can't complain.” Parents do not often get to hear their positive words repeated back to them at times when they matter!

We all complain about issues that are controlled by local, state, and federal government. We do so freely. That is a part of freedom of speech. Frequently that complaining is a political statement, meaning the person I voted for wasn't elected and now I can prove my vote as the right view by pointing out a failure in policy or performance of the person who won. Although we all may not agree on candidates or issues—and we do not in most elections—we do support freedom of speech. And that ability to speak out against a policy or a point of view seems to be one we value. We need to translate that desire to speak out into the action to vote. In many cases, I do not care who or what you vote for because—at least we hope—good people and good policies are at stake.

The Tri-Council for Nursing urges you to exercise your right to vote in the 2020 Election (Figure A; available in the online version of this article).

Please do not deny yourself the opportunity to vote. You may want to exercise your right to complain later. Just vote!

Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN


The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.


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