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to vote or not to vote, that is the obsession

January 5, 2008

sorry for my lack of posts recently.

i’ve been bogged down in a graphic arts project that is giving me some small difficulty.

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so i was on my way to work today and i got to thinking about this ugly little trend we’ve had going on since the reagan administration wherein we try to coerce folk who would not otherwise come out to vote to come out to vote.

it started in the late eighties with mtv’s whole *rock the vote* campaign which attempted to entice younger voters to get involved, take the voting process seriously, blah, blah, blah . . .

focus began shifting from the hard core party liners to that undecided middle voter

more and more pressure was applied each year with political machines encouraging more and more people to do their american duty and come out and vote.

of course, 9/11 came and the language got stronger, allowing them to make that final mccarthian push, until voting became not just a civic duty, but an act of patriotism . . . and non-voting became *unamerican* (hey, i saw it on a bumper sticker – it’s gospel)

now, anyone familiar with my politics (or non-politics as the case may be) knows i am no fan of voting. the electoral college makes a mockery of the individual vote and has been somewhat passe since the lincoln administration.

in a country where the president can win the popular vote and still lose the election . . . sorry, i’m just not a believer.

i am also not a hypocrite. i don’t vote, so i don’t get to kvetch about the guy who gets elected. seems fair to me. it has been a long time since it mattered. every election i’ve witnessed has offered me nothing more than the choice between two knuckleheads who are going to screw up.

they will screw up and benefit the country differently, of course, following party lines, but there really is no lesser degree of evil . . . just a different manifestation.

fortunately for the world, as an ex-con i am not eligible to vote anyway.

but i find it curious that we have become so forceful in our attempt to drive souls to the ballot box.

sure, i’m all for educating kids, teaching them the process, encouraging them to *get involved* in the process . . . at its most idealistic that is what the rock the vote campaign was all about.

if you are going to not vote it should be because you don’t believe in or care about the process, not because you were too lazy to look into it.

but this whole goading people into voting thing seems counter intuitive to me.

back in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s most of the folk who voted did so either out of a sense of duty or because they legitimately cared about the issues. those who didn’t care or were too lazy or whatever stayed home and watched the polls and whined and made lame predictions – good little couch potatoes staying out of the way of responsible citizens.

but now we’ve told these apathetic couch potatoes that it’s unamerican not to vote. that if they don’t vote they are scum sucking bottom dwellers; no better than terrorists.

so out of a sense of shame, still not caring, still having done no research into the candidates, they swarm out to vote. and we hear praise on all the news channels about these insipid voters who come out so they can say they voted and prove their american-ness to their neighbors and friends.

to me it is the equivalent of the umpires encouraging all the fans to come down and take their turn at bat and in the field in hopes of improving the game, overwhelming the pros with swarms of fat, greasy, hot dog eating amateurs . . .

me, i wish the people who didn’t care would just stay the f*ck home and let the people who do care carry the vote. we’d end up with better politicians. we’d end up with politicians who actually had to do their jobs because they’d know they were answering to people who didn’t put them in office on the strength of their hairdo or power tie or sax playing ability . . .

they wouldn’t be able to play it any other way.

they wouldn’t keep their positions if they did.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Red permalink
    January 6, 2008 00:33

    Sorry. I dont vote. I never have. I dont see myself doing it in the future either. And no I dont bitch about the president, no hypocrite here.
    This post is a keeper. Mucho kudos to you, my friend.

  2. January 6, 2008 13:22

    I completely agree with you, as usual. I’m very involved in the political process. I work on campaigns sometimes, I write about it, I study it, and I love it.

    But, I’ve never encouraged anyone else to vote as opposed to not voting. I’d rather people stayed home. I’d rather my opinion, my voice, my vote, be more powerful rather than diluted by all those nitwits who watch daytime television, know why Britney’s in the news, and engage whole-heartedly in the democracy of American Idol.

    I don’t tell people to vote for my candidate over theirs. I tell them not to bother, their guy isn’t going to help them.

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