Part of the Problem (Why I Won't Be Picking a President)

Well, it's finally Election Day...months of smear campaign commercials and social media politics finally come to a head on this day, as Americans are selecting their next nominal leader as I type. All over the country, people are filled with election fever, polling and proselytizing, and just being so damn proud to feel like part of the process. Well...that's most people anyway.

For me, it's just another day. Sure, a lot of people are chattering away about something they know little about, but that's no different from any other spot on the calendar...they're just all on the same topic today. However, I certainly do have a civic responsibility today...and I'm performing it right now: I hereby announce that I'm not going to vote for either candidate. In fact, I'm not going to seriously participate in the presidential election at all. In my view, it's pretty pointless.

Of course, I registered to vote at 18 because I wanted to be prepared if somebody ever came along happened to deserve my vote, but when it comes to choosing between the two available candidates, neither really appeals to me (one far less than the other, but on every other multiple-choice test I've ever taken, if the answer isn't on the paper, I've always picked "none of the above").

That's kinda what happens when you try to make two choices appeal to hundreds of millions of people...somebody somewhere isn't going to like either. I'm that guy.

As you can imagine, I'm catching plenty of real-life backlash for my decision, or lack thereof. I've heard many times that I'm "part of the problem". Many people say I'm not exercising a right that people died for me to have...which is true, but the pursuit of happiness is also a right people shed blood for, and what would make me happy is for them to shut the fuck up about it, something I pursue with this post.

Others say I have a responsibility to my people to support a certain candidate...if people of other paintjobs said stupid shit like that, the guy wouldn't stand a chance anyway.

What I find most interesting are the sources of this flack. Most of the people who are the most vocal opponents of my nonvote think the Electoral College is one of those online universities. They couldn't name the 3 branches of government with a two-branch head start, and they don't know about the Federal Reserve and its' status as a privately-owned corporation (and in some cases, I could stop that sentence after the word "Reserve").

They don't know there is nothing mandating there only be two viable parties, only a series of spike strips written into the law by Democrats and Republicans for any other parties trying to join the party. (Which isn't suspicious at all, that members of the two largest parties would conspire to keep any other options off the table.)

This means that any vote for a third party candidate that may actually be worth voting for is effectively useless. A write in vote is also popular, but only you and the person who counts your ballot will ever know it even happened, and only one of you will care. How did this happen? Why is it so? Why are you asking me, you're the one so excited about voting.

They're also blissfully unaware of the conjugation of business and state. Corporations and the government that claims to regulate them are closer than Alabama cousins. The top officials in industry are usually the top officials in elected office and appointed government are usually the top advisors and consultants to political figures. Really, whether one of these people is a public servant or a public master often depends on which year you're asking about.

If you think about it for 5 seconds, there's a very good reason why there was about 3 billion dollars donated and spent by the presidential campaigns in the midst of the greatest recession in living memory.

Quid pro quo is a concept so old, it's in Latin. Anyone who thinks one hand doesn't wash the other doesn't have any idea how washing works, and that's not a person whose opinion I trust. Those who make the donations will have their needs met first, and that ain't me. I'll bet you a low--pardon me, working class --amount of money that it's not you either.

If that's not enough for you, consider the fact that the candidates are just so damn...similar. Sure, they differ on some social issues, and even what color tie they wear, but does either oppose the war? (How about funding the military with more money than the next FIVE countries combined? There's no better use for seven hundred billion dollars?) Did I miss the part of the debates when that was discussed?

Has either expressed an interest in closing the salary gap between CEOs and the people who keep them in that position and even bailed them out when they needed it? Has either even addressed the "War on Drugs" and why it's not only not working, but that it takes a lot of money to not work? How about the fact that 3 or 4 large conglomerates control just about every newspaper, TV show, and news program? (I guess those aren't monopolies for whatever reason, but then they call their news "trust"worthy, just how much are they telling us?)

Of course not, because their interests are those of the companies who make the bombs, planes and other instruments of war. Their interests are those of the people who own the prisons and are paid to house as many prisoners as possible. Their interests are those of the media conglomerates, the domestic companies with an overseas workforce, the companies who took their bailout money and immediately paid their top executives millions of dollars for fucking up so well. They fund the campaigns, they have the powerful lobbying groups, they have the money...and that, my friends, is influence...not choosing which puppet will lead the next 4 years of the military-industrial dynasty.

If you're wondering how these things can go on in what's called a free country, it's because nobody is calling them on it, at least not loudly enough.

Throughout history, real change has never really been made at the ballot box...ending slavery, giving women the right to vote, getting out of Vietnam, letting people my color come through the front door of any building that they please...none of those were accomplished through an election. They were done because a people--not a guy, not a group, not a celebrity, but a people--held their government accountable for something within their control. A government that is not accountable to those it governs is useless...detrimental, even. Voting is something like prayer...but faith without works is dead.

Of course, I can't completely throw today away and still call myself a responsible citizen. The election is more than the presidential popularity contest, and those are the things everyone should contribute their opinion on. For one, the president can do nothing without Congress--hell, just look at the last 4 years--and that is a place where one can effect some actual change. Your senators and local representatives have your interests more at heart than the celebrity face of the country, mostly because if you don't like them they stand a real chance at losing their jobs. It's not as popular as the big race, but it's exponentially more important.

There are also things like referendums and policy polls that allow average citizens the chance to directly vote on what laws and initiatives they would like the place they live in to have. As that is the purest form of civilized democracy (read: only form without torches and pitchforks), that's something you definitely have a responsibility as a citizen to participate in. That, I'll certainly be at my local polling place for...having your voice heard by those who are actually listening is what this country is all about.

In closing, I'd like to think I'm a bit more politically aware than the average American (not saying much, but in case it needed to be typed). I've studied the plans and policies of both candidates, and that's how I can confidently say neither suit my needs. I know how the system works, and that's how I know it's broken. I know all the things I just typed, and as a result, I can say that nobody is the right choice to fix it, so I'm not going to vote at all. Feeling like part of the process has it's appeal, but I'd rather be part of why it changes.

My abstaining from the presidential election IS my vote...a vote of no confidence. Hey, at least I can tell you why I'm voting the way I am in a logical fashion with well-considered detail...if you can't, then guess who's ACTUALLY part of the problem?


Neel Joshi said...

While your point is interesting and compelling (one of the best thought-through cases for abstaining from voting), here's my issue: my multiple choice tests have always asked that I choose the best possible answer.

From your own post it's clear that even if you dislike both candidates, you do prefer one over the other. Thus, you have a best answer here. Perhaps a third candidate is even more desirable. Best possible answer.

The only way "none of the above" makes sense to me is if everyone is so bad that you actually don't care who leads the country for the next four years. Perhaps that's what you think (you do argue that the Presidency is in big business' pocket anyway). If so, I get it, and I'm sorry you're so disillusioned. I do think that the Presidency still matters, and that's why I vote.

captNaj said...

First of all, welcome to umf! Always glad to see new faces and the new voices that come from them.

On topic, I'll openly admit to preferring one candidate to the other, but that's because the other was almost comically unqualified for the position. Even for the "poster boy" role I feel the president mostly plays, I wouldn't really want to call that guy the leader of the place I live.

I also admit to being a little too stubborn to give my support to someone I don't actively support, because I feel that's an endorsement of the status quo (and an insincere endorsement...as a brand in the making, I can't be accused of giving those out).

My other main point is that the real power to impact your day-to-day life lies in local and state affairs. I feel those are woefully misrepresented in their importance, and to see people whipped up into a frothy frenzy for the big election and care next to nothing about the ones closer to them really frustrates me.

I know there are different perspectives from mine, and if you feel that making an informed vote is the right thing to do, I can damn sure respect you acting on your convictions just as I do. It takes all kinds of citizen to keep a country like ours going...one who thinks the Presidency is something that should be revered and held sacred certainly ain't the worst kind. (In fact, I believe it too...that's part of what upsets me so much about the whole thing.)

Thanks for the comment!