America’s Reality-Show Election

I know this isn’t my normal day to post my blog, but with the election next week, I felt compelled to write a special one . . .

Four years ago I wrote about my decision to vote for the first time in my life (you can read parts 1 and 2 of that blog here and here).  This year it didn’t occur to me not to vote, but this might be the last year that I do so.

I was right in fearing the floodgates opening up once I started thinking more about politics.  The last several months have been exhausting to me.  With all the social media blurbs about this candidate or that one–not to mention the fact that The Daily Show (a satirical news show on Comedy Central) has talked of practically nothing else–the only way I can avoid hearing about the latest scandal or lawsuit is to put my nose in a book, or get outside (both of which I have done, with great pleasure).

And it wasn’t just the non-stop, in your face coverage that got to me; that happens every election year.  It was also the ridiculous reality-show vibe of the entire thing.

First off, there were . . . what . . . 17 Republican candidates originally (not counting another 5 who had filed the correct paperwork, but were never included on ballots or in debates)?  I’m fairly certain that’s unprecedented.  As the months wore on and the debates happened, they kept dropping like contestants on Survivor, and many of my friends who normally vote Republican said there wasn’t a good option in the bunch (I agreed with them, but I’m not Republican, so that’s not surprising).

Then, there were the issues with corruption in the Democratic National Committee.  I was a HUGE Bernie Sanders supporter, and actually looked forward to the election with the prospect of him in office.  So the voter suppression and other shenanigans that happened around the primaries were disheartening and angering to witness.  And I’d probably be happier about breaking the glass ceiling if our first female Presidential candidate was someone I trusted and liked more than Hillary Clinton . . . like Elizabeth Warren.

And then, looking at all the local and state-wide proposals in my vote-by-mail ballot became a daunting task.  When I saw the size of the booklet explaining the proposals for California, I about fell on the floor.  I wanted to make sure that I understood each issue before voting on it, so I read the unbiased summary and then each “For” and “Against” comment.  And those damned rebuttals!  The ones that weren’t full of fear-tactics were so childish, they boiled down to “Nuh-uh!  You’re the liars!”

The whole process of actually reading the proposals and filling out the ballot took me 3 three days.  Granted, I spent only an hour or so each day, but still, that went on WAY too long!

But the worst part of this year’s election, in my opinion, is how Donald Trump’s presence as the Republican nominee has brought out all the racists, misogynists, and the like who have been keeping their mouths shut because the wind was blowing in a different direction.  But now, with all the inflammatory things he says, these ignorant (not stupid, mind you, just ignorant) and closed-minded people feel free to openly slam, bully, or worse whatever race, religion, sexual orientation, or other category of people they feel threatened by.  We’re approximately 150 years out of slavery and about 60 years out of segregation, for goodness sake!  I realize those are relatively short periods of time in the history of the world, but I can’t bear the thought of us reverting back into those days!  Not to mention all of the other great stride’s we’ve made for equality recently.

As much as I don’t care for Hillary, I think she’s a FAR better candidate than Donald.  And, even if he did win (which I highly doubt), it’s not HIM I’m afraid of; it’s the hordes of people who agree with the crap that comes out of his mouth.  I personally believe he says that shit just to get a reaction out of people, but those who support him really do have that kind of mentality.  And they are the people we now have to deal with every single day, regardless of whether he takes the Presidency or not.

So yeah, this might be the last year that I vote.  I understand that thousands of women fought for my right to vote (many of whom died for it), and I’m eternally grateful that they did.  I will never fully understand the hardships they went through, or the sacrifices they made.  But they fought for my right to vote, not the obligation that I do so.  And I don’t feel that I owe it to anyone to be this overwhelmed, frustrated, and frankly disheartened by a process that goes on WAY too long.

And, if Mr. Trump does win this year, I might just be moving to another country.

Fearing the Floodgates – Part 2

Here is the second part of my political rant.  Click here for the beginning of this blog, which posted last week.

To continue with my last point, I definitely have opinions on past elections, regardless of having voted or not.  I feel that Ross Perot would’ve been a GREAT President!  I think he didn’t win because 1) he gave us the cold hard truth about our country, which I applaud him for, but the majority didn’t want to hear; and 2) he chose a VP who wasn’t a very good orator.  I think Bush Jr was a HORRIBLE blow to this country in terms of international relations, outright lying to the American people, and yes, I believe he was largely responsible for the atrocity that happened on September 11, 2001.

I feel that Obama was the best choice four years ago, and I feel he’s the best choice in our current election.  He may not have been able to pull off all the things he hoped to in his first term, but much of that was due to the brick walls he kept meeting by those whose main goal was to make him a “one term President.”  Despite such opposition, I think he’s done some wonderful things for our country, and I hope he’s able to continue for another term.

Which is why I actually contemplated voting this year, so badly did I want Obama to stay in the Oval Office.  There’s been a serious war inside me over this.  I REALLY wanted Obama in for the next four years, and I truly feared for our country if  Romney got elected!  But I also REALLY don’t think my vote matters when it’s “counted” in the EC way.  Nor do I like the over-saturation of ads, slams, slings and arrows that both sides have flung at each other for the last year.  Neither side took the high road, and in many cases they were both so misleading or took whatever was said by the other out of context.  So I’ve had to hunt down the facts for what was actually said/written for the last several months.

I’ve spent more energy on politics this year than I ever had before.  Which makes me worry that I’ll spend just as much time and energy (or more) in every future election.  I fear that voting this year would open the floodgates of political information into my life, which I really don’t want, and I’ll have to do twice as much research on every issue, every debate, every sound bite, in order to make sure I’ve got the correct facts.  And yes, that’s probably what should be happening with people who vote; we should be paying very close attention to what’s being proposed to us . . . but who’s got that kind of time on their hands?

There’s a wonderful clip from the movie Protocol with Goldie Hawn that talks about this very thing.  I LOVE this clip, and I agree with the sentiment, that We the People should be watching our government like hawks, and getting up in arms when we’re unhappy with how they run things.  But, I just don’t know if I can afford to expend all my energy that way from now on, or if I even want to.

After deliberating long and hard about this, I had actually decided NOT to register/vote this year just a week before the registration deadline.  But then I found myself hounding Craig to get his absentee vote in before we left for our honeymoon, and realized I was doing that because I wanted ONE of our voices to be heard.  I finally decided that I had to put my own two cents into the ring, regardless of whether or not it would count.  It wasn’t fair of me to make Craig be the voice for both of us.

So I actually voted this year.  I registered and filled out my absentee ballot for the first time ever.  Since I don’t know any of the local candidates, or much info on the propositions, I was up until midnight looking into it. The good thing to take away from this is I now have an understanding of what people go through when they vote.  The down side is there’s no way to know if I made the right choices.

I can’t guarantee I’ll ever vote again, but who knows?  Until this year, it had never crossed my mind, and I would never have written such a long blog on politics.  I could’ve gone on even longer, believe me.  But I’m exhausted, as I’m sure you are, dear readers, of this whole process.

I thank you for reading, and I welcome your comments.  But know that I might not respond to them, other than to say “Thanks,” simply because I’ve said my piece.

Fearing the Floodgates – Part 1

*NOTE: This blog became so long that I had to separate it into two parts.*

I’ve been contemplating something that never even crossed my mind since I was 18 . . . I’m thinking about registering to vote.

Yes, I’ve lived 24 years without EVER voting in a single election.  No city propositions, no state gubernatorial, and no Senate or Presidential votes have come from me.  Before you decide to flog me, however, let me explain why.

In my senior year of high school, I had to take a Government class.  Up until then, I’d never paid attention to the government.  News and politics weren’t things we focused on in my household.  I always assumed I’d have to vote when I turned 18, but I didn’t realize I had to actually register to do so.  Nor did I realize that I had a choice.

My Government teacher was very passionate about the subject, which resulted in us being more interested and involved.  When we were discussing the idea of capital punishment, he had us all vote how we felt about it, then made us watch the video Faces of Death that focused on capital punishment.  Let me tell you, many of those in favor switched their votes right away after being faced with the horrors of what capital punishment looks like.

When we got to voting, it was quite an eye-opening experience for me.  I learned then that the Electoral College is a VERY flawed system.  It’s been 22 years since the class, but I distinctly remember my teacher saying that the popular and Electoral College votes have matched in less than five elections.  That was the moment I decided not to vote.  If my vote wasn’t going to be counted individually, what was the point?  It didn’t matter.

Since high school I’ve had people tell me the info I received is incorrect, so I did a little research on the Electoral College myself.  Please note, I plucked this paragraph directly from the government’s archives on the EC (this is no Wikipedia research) 😉 :

“Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate.”

An upcoming documentary on the Electoral College

If I understand this correctly, that means if I vote Democrat–but live in a largely Republican section of California (1 of the 55 EC votes that CA gets)–then my section’s EC vote will go Republican.  And if the majority of the EC sections here in CA are Republican, then that’s where ALL 55 EC votes go, regardless of whether or not the ratio was 28/27 or 40/15.  Regardless of whether a tally of the individual votes for Democrat outweighed those for Republican.  Explain to me HOW my individual vote counts in that election again?!

Anyway, after school I went about my life for the next couple of decades, again only marginally paying attention to what was happening out in D.C.  All the muckraking that goes on during campaigns and all the in-your-face signage in people’s yards for local elections was enough to keep me far away as well.  I hate ads to begin with, so for it to go on like this for months or even years is more than I want to deal with.  And while I don’t automatically believe that all politicians are scum or liars or even corrupt, I do believe it’s the nature of politics to tell people what they want to hear in order to get into office.

So with such a low opinion of the system–and a belief that my individual vote won’t do much good to change it–I felt even stronger in my decision to stay away from voting.  I’ve endured pleading from friends and strangers who try to convince me that my vote CAN help change the system, as well as censure from those who say I have no bitching rights (or rights to my opinion) if I’m not willing to vote.

As a side note, I will say that I disagree with the latter opinion.  I have every right to my opinions, just as everyone else does.  But having “bitching rights” isn’t enough of a reason to vote, for me.  I need to feel that my vote matters.  That I’m not just using up half my day to go somewhere and punch a hole in a card that might or might not be found “dangling” by some corrupt politician, in order to get a different outcome.

Please visit next week, dear readers, to see if I voted or not this year . . .

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