Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Generalized Rant on Election Crap

By and large, I really have to agree with the statement that “Americans get the government they deserve”.

We Americans love to crow about how we have so many freedoms and can vote for our governing official and yadda yadda yadda, but so few Americans who are eligible to vote actually do so (or even register to do so) that it’s no wonder we keep getting stuck with the same old corrupt, self-serving turds in office. More Americans vote during American Idol than have ever voted in any Presidential election, ever. That’s seriously sad. Of course, most Americans also believe that we live in a democracy, which we don’t. We live in a constitutional republic.

I personally vote in all the major elections, and always leave the polling place with a measure of pride for having done my civic duty and for exercising my right and privilege to vote. Admittedly, I’m kind of lax in voting in the smaller local and municipal elections, unless they happen to coincide with the usual November elections. I’m appalled at how few of my friends and coworkers vote. The common reply I get when I ask them why they don’t vote is that they don’t think their vote actually counts for anything, and I also sometimes hear that they have no idea who’s running or what the issues are. That just blows me away. It’s up to the voter to get educated on issues and to believe in the idea that every vote counts.

About five years ago I stopped off late in the afternoon on an election day to snap a few pictures from the boat landing off Dorchester Road by Oakbrook, and as usual there was a group of military retirees gathered under the pavilion socializing as they did almost every day, and one of them recognized me and asked if I’d voted yet. I replied that I had, and he said to me, “Good. That means you also have the right to complain. You can’t bitch if you don’t vote.”

I had to laugh, but I agreed with him wholeheartedly. Folks love to complain about the government, but if you aren’t getting involved and voting, then you really have no right to complain, because you just sat back & allowed things to happen and allowed others to choose your officials for you without taking any part in the process.

However, it’s also easy to get what I call Electoral Burnout. Every presidential election season, they seem to start earlier and earlier with the campaigning and stumping and polling and mud-slinging. This time they started almost a year and a half out. I’m sick of hearing about it and the election is still over ten months away. It’s just going to get worse the closer we get to November. But starting 18 months out is a sure way to burn some people out to where they’ll just tune the whole process out. Voter Apathy can be prevented, Big Media…

I also love how the media declares a new winner every five seconds. The Iowa Caucus last weekend was a glorified town hall meeting. Residents of Iowa meet in precinct caucuses in all of Iowa's 1784 precincts and elect delegates to the corresponding county conventions. There are 99 counties in Iowa and thus 99 conventions. These county conventions then select delegates for both Iowa's Congressional District Convention and the State Convention, which eventually choose the delegates for the national conventions. Only about one percent of the nation's delegates are chosen by the Iowa State Convention, yet you could have sworn that Obama and Huckabee had received the official nominations the way the media went all hullbaloo over it.

That was, of course, until the New Hampshire primary. Based upon the opinions of however many registered voters who bothered to vote among the state’s population of 1,235,786 citizens, all of a sudden John McCain, who had been lagging far behind all the front-runners, and Hillary Clinton, who feels entitled to the Presidency because she used to live in the White House, were the ones acting as if they’d received the nominations.

Look, I love New Hampshire as much as the next guy. I’ve been there hundreds (if not thousands) of times, and my sister and her family lives there. However, I just don’t see the rationale in acting like the elections are in the bag because a few thousand Granite Staters burrowed out of the snowdrifts in order to prove to the universe that They Vote First.

Now the attention is focused here on South Carolina, where we have a primary coming p in a few days. And again, here’s hoopla and hype. Look, folks in Los Angeles don’t give a rat’s as about what we in South Carolina have to say politically; in general ya’ll think we’re rustic hicks plucking banjos and drinking corn squeezin’s, just like those voters in New Hampshire look at most of you Angelinos as lunatic-fringe latté drinkers car-chasing your way around a sprawling suburb of Mexico, ducking the paparazzi.

Look, you have to educate yourself and vote for who YOU want, based on how you feel a given candidate will best represent your interests. You can’t just toss all your support behind whomever CNN or MSNBC or You Tube says is a winner. Don’t stop believing in a candidate just because some Talking Head on the news says he’s not the front-runner. (Crap like that is why no one gives any media attention to guys like Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who in my humble opinion is a damned fine candidate for President, but doesn’t have the huge name-draw or media support that other candidates have.) The actual nominees won’t be decided until the parties hold their national conventions anyways, so DON’T BE A SHEEP!!!!!

And I’m always appalled at people who just vote for any candidate that their preferred party throws out there. One night while he was filling in for radio host Rusty Humphries, I heard Douglas Urbanski say that he’d vote for anyone as long as they had an “R” after their name. Oh really? Almost makes you wanna run a guy like Hitler or some sicko pedophile as a candidate for the Republican Party just to see Urbanski eat his words. That sort of blind allegiance to a party is why things never get done in Washington. The Democrats vote against anything the Republicans do for no better reason than that it was proposed by a Republican, and vice-versa. A die-hard Republican could say the sky is blue, and at least one Democrat in Congress would argue that it was red. I’ve voted split-ticket many times. Although I’d consider myself a pretty moderate conservative with occasional liberal viewpoints, I refuse to label myself as Democrat or Republican. The closest I ever came to joining a party at all was registering in Maine as an Independent, but I do tend to vote more Republican than anything. I will say this much: I will not be voting for a Democrat for President this time around. Period. Regardless, this election is not about left or right; it's about right or wrong.

I am deeply afraid of how many of the Ignorati out there will knee-jerk vote for the Democratic candidate just because they hate President Bush and will blame all of his administration’s colossal failings on Republicans as a whole.

Take some time and Google up the various candidates to see their views and stands on the issues, and then believe maybe 60% of it. (A bit cynical, I know, but not too badly). Use that Internet for something other than surfing porn sites and sending me chain mail on MySpace.

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