Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Elections and Voting

When I hear analogies for the election, I can't help but visualize it. For example, as we close in on election day, it's sometimes described as a "sprint to the finish." Well clearly, in this situation, Obama has a huge advantage. Other people look at it like a war, with both sides bunkered in. In this situation... I gotta give it to Obama again because frankly, I've watched John McCain a lot and I'm pretty sure he can't even turn his head, so one flank attack and it's over. McCain is also always calling everyone "his friend," not very tough to me. In fact, I think John McCain only has a chance in a sleep off or a game of "Name That Tune, The ABBA Edition."


Before I say this, I want to point out I am not dissuading anyone from voting. I’m not interested in anyone changing their opinion on anything because of something I say. I only state the following because I feel like it’s an opinion that is not discussed enough.

I don’t vote. I am interested in politics, but a particular principle of mine prevents me from voting for someone in the manner I have been informed is normal. I would vote for a candidate who aligned with me on the most important issues in this country, but there has not been a candidate in my lifetime who I felt represents me. That’s what democracy is, after all: the process of electing someone who represents you. Democracy is not a popularity contest, nor is it the choice of the lesser of two evils, nor is it even a responsibility for every American.

Too often, the president is chosen based on charisma. A quick look back through history will show that charisma is not exactly a qualifier for leadership. It builds a great cult of personality around a figure, who can then do some extraordinary things, but usually they end in disaster. Basing someone’s leadership on their likeability is as arbitrary as basing their leadership skills on appearance. Of course, people who vote this way don’t know much about history.

The most common reason for voting for someone, from what I gather through anecdotal research (the most dependable of all fake research), is the old “vote against” theory of democracy. In this model, the person believes they have been given a choice and that they need to avoid the bad one. This ideology relies upon a false dichotomy: adherents believe that the choice they are presented with is complete; there cannot possibly be other choices; therefore, they choose the “right” candidate as long as they don’t vote for the worst one. This just isn’t logical for selecting a leader. If we someday allow a veto vote, in which you vote to cancel a vote for someone, then this mindset will have merit.

The last refuge of the fool losing an argument is honor. Somehow, not voting is anti-American and dishonors soldiers. Telling people you don't vote seems be an invitation for comments about how people died for my vote, usually they say something sentimental about the flag and other gibberish that moves the simple minds of sheep. I love America, and I love freedom. Somehow, I doubt exercising my freedom to not vote will dishonor anything or anyone.

If I’m not going to cast a vote in favor of a candidate who can win, then why go out? The symbolism? I’m not a religious man; ritual is meaningless to me. How about I stay home and jack off in a red, white and blue hat while listening to the national anthem, I think that’s even more American. At least then I will know I accomplished something.

I mentioned a principle. I believe a person should be able to confront, scrutinize, and acknowledge with honesty everything they do. Regret is something we all must live with. If we choose to regret nothing, we betray ourselves. It is not a betrayal of morality, but of knowledge, for it is only in acknowledging what we regret that we can better guide our future actions.

The most pressing issues the United States faces today are debatable, but my opinion is that the war on drugs and the unconditional support of Israel are the two most influential policies that could be most quickly rectified. No candidate to date has aligned with me on both issues except Ron Paul, and he is so stark raving mad on every other issue that I cannot in good conscious support him.

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