Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bad Reasons to Vote

We are surrounded by so much mythology and because it's so pervasive it tends to act on all of us somewhere between our conscious thoughts and an almost subconscious or Id-like emotional level. For instance, so many of us believe the myth about Washington the young boy chopping down a Cherry Tree and being confronted by his father about it. Many of us know this to be a myth created to generate a belief that George Washington was then and always would be an honest man of character. I'm not saying that he wasn't. I would guess that he was such a man. His war time heroism, his patriotism and his leadership are all well documented. These traits are not really in question. My point is we all are willing to accept the assertion of his honesty based on a false or at least an unverifiable story and the deeper meaning behind that story. The meaning behind that story is embedded in that thin layer between thought and belief.

So like an after-school special about the kid who's victimized by the bully to then later learn what makes this person into a bully (abusive parent, a bigger bully in his neighborhood) and by getting to know him on this personal and meaningful level he stops being bullied. So the Frankenstein monster just requires a little compassionate understanding of his plight and this is enough to make the bully stop his attacks. I've never seen this work quite that way in real life though. The bullies I knew are still bullies to this day.

Or there's this myth that if we don't have friends of different ethnicity or perhaps give a job to or vote for someone who is a minority that we are somehow a racist. First, everyone is racist on some level - accept that and move on. Deep down it's probably coded into our DNA.
Second and more importantly, the assertion is an assumption about our reasoning and thoughts for making certain decisions which can't possibly be known by those making the assertion and is therefore absurd. By that logic then 800 years ago all Tahitians must have been such extreme racists because they only hung with their own kind. They just must have been, otherwise why didn't the paddle they shorter distance to South America instead of taking the long haul to Hawaii? Point is the myth is embedded in people's thoughts without basis.

We get hard wired in these many ways to think, no, not think but believe this is the way the world works. Then we become confronted with a reality that's quite different than these mythological constructs and are left reconciling one with the other in confusion.

Here's one that we're all brought up to believe as young American's from the first time we participate in a mock election in grade school: VOTING IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO AS AN AMERICAN, therefore we are preserving our democratic freedom by voting. Conversely, IF YOU DON'T VOTE IT'S SOMEHOW A BAD THING. This is far more false than true if you are accepting it prima facie and without the basis behind the truth. Our founding fathers believed that individual voting rights were important but these needed to be coupled with an educated understanding of how their government works and with a fundamental set of personal beliefs and self-interests that were somehow related to the government's agenda.

For instance, a person without enough of an education to read the ballot should not vote because they may end up putting their mark next to the wrong candidate. (We didn't have picture ballots this year but I suppose in our polyglot society that will be coming soon too.) And a person who lives in Kentucky should not be voting for the politicians representing Floridians in the U.S. Senate and Congress (however I hear this happens anyway.) Well, at least Hawaiians are not voting for Boca Raton's dog catcher. The simple point is that an uneducated and purposeless vote should not even be cast.

JUST LIKE SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT DRIVE, SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT VOTE. Where one is a privilege, the other is a right but both are a RESPONSIBILITY.

And so here are some of the WORST reasons I've heard on TV and radio, read in news articles and even heard with my own ears of why people are voting in this year's presidential election:

1. "I've voted Republican my whole life. I run a flooring business and have built it up to 3-5 installs a day. Now I'm lucky if I do 2 or 3 a week. Something needs to change so I'm going to give this guy, Obama a try." -- So to be clear, the Office of the U.S. President doesn't have a probationary period like your Drivers License did when you were 15; it's not a "Test Drive" by the American people to see if it handles well. This is four full years. The only way you can call this a trial period is by comparing it to a Time Share Contract or a Gym Membership you can't get out of after you stop going.

2. "Sarah Palin is inexperienced and John McCain is old. I don't think he's going to last that long." Interesting juxtaposition to voter #1 in that now the other guy is only going to last about as long as a Test Drive and the Veep is going to have to take over in the Oval Office RIGHT AWAY. So the same battery of Secret Serviceman, Doctors, Chefs and various other Personal Assistants that have somehow kept all the other guys alive even after one was shot and another tried Spurlocking himself into liver failure by eating too many Big Macs, this same cadre of specialists are now going to fall down on the job.
I'm guessing a guy that (yes, younger and healthier at the time but still) a guy that survived five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton POW camp can survive four years in the relative comfort of what amounts to an actual four star hotel, oh and another four star hotel with jet engines and wings. And even if he doesn't last the full term your argument is that B.O. with ZERO Executive experience is somehow better suited for the job. Oh, and let's not forget that FDR managed to last three terms and was reelected to his fourth, the whole time with POLIO.

3. "McCain's too much like Bush." Hmmmm. So I realize this one almost requires a minor degree in U.S. history but does that mean when Bush got the party nomination in 2000 and it was commonly discussed that McCain, who had just dropped out of the Republican primary race was a shoe in for VP on the Bush ticket, that they shared so much in common they just couldn't work together? I seem to recall McCain referring to a potential Bush administration in a Star Wars motif as the evil Empire. So yeah, those guys are practically identical twins. If Republican's wanted a third Bush term they'd all just write-in Dick Cheney on their ballots.

4. "Sarah Palin didn't go to Harvard or Yale or one of those Ivy League schools" (and this from a guy making six figures but only went to a state college) - Bush went to Yale and is considered one of the dumbest guys to ever run this country (and I am not necessarily arguing with that opinion). But there are a lot of U.S. Presidents who didn't go to an Ivy League school (and before you argue that point -- yes, Harvard was around before the United States was even a country and had its first President -- 140 years to be exact). Woodrow Wilson is the only President with a Ph.D. and allowed us to get sucked into a European war and gave us the (where is it now?) League of Nations. Ronald Reagan only had a Bachelors Degree from Eureka College, was a two term president that ended economic malaise and the Cold War. The issue of a President's educational pedigree is kind of a PUSH.

5. "Sarah Palin is an idiot" see #4. Also refer to #3 about who you are voting for as President and then check yourself at the door if your statement is based on a) A Saturday Night Live skit, b) an interview edited by a biased and liberal media source or c) something you heard someone else say - and if that's the case then let them vote for you too. And by the way, you CAN actually do that just by handing them your voter registration card and teaching them to forge your signature. No photo ID is required in most states.
Finally, if your decision about which Presidential candidate for whom you should vote is based on the intelligence of his "relief pitcher" then read this article about Joe "the historically inaccurate Senator" Biden. In which case -- case closed. Oh, and if it's really just that Alaskan accent that's off-putting then you can kiss my cold, pale Wisconsin butt you provincial idiot.

6. "Maybe it's a good thing if we all pool our resources." (Don't even get me started on how successful this individual was the last time he decided to "pool his resources" with just one other person or that he got this idea from an actual communist.) This is not a matter of everyone putting your cash on the dash as you're about to pull in to the Taco Bell drive-thru at 2:00 a.m.!!! You are stating that you are willing to vote AGAINST one of the pillars of American society -- CAPITALISM. Save time on Tuesday and instead of standing in line to vote, go get your Passport so you can start your migration to China. Or perhaps the newly revitalized Russian brand of tyranny is your cup of potato vodka. Enjoy the bread lines. Just don't get nostalgic about voting in elections. That's only for Party Members with a larger pool of the resources than what you will ever have, comrade.

7. "I just don't like that guy." Reason you don't like that guy? None given, so I have to assume that there is no reason. If this is actually your rationale then this would be a clear case Not to Vote. It's not like you will be working alongside the President on your factory assembly line every day. This is not an election to determine Miss Congeniality. You don't have to like them to agree with their platform. Conversely this voter has made no real examination of the other candidate. If this person picked ponies at the races with the same alacrity they'd be broke quicker than Fannie Mae. Fortunately they are only gambling with their vote, something that didn't cost them anything, it only cost many American's their lives over the past 232 years.

8. "My taxes won't go up. I don't make that much money." So you pay taxes. You don't make a lot of money (in your own opinion) and you are going to trust a guy saying he's going to raise taxes when the guy who said "No new taxes," even had to raise taxes on the vast majority of wage earners. So if the guy who promised "no taxes" raised them what do you think will happen with the guy who's promising to raise them? Honestly, if you are that gullible then I have a petition you need to sign right away or McDonalds won't bring back the McRib.

9. "He's going negative in his campaign" - This one even being stated by the candidate himself; the same candidate whose own campaign has been propagating most of the above rhetoric. The statement itself is hypocritical by pointing it out.
But if you are really bothered by a little mudslinging in a National Election then move to Canada where it never gets so ugly because frankly, there's never really anything at stake in their elections except maybe who gets to throw out the first puck on the NHL's opening day.
Seriously, if you are bothered by the candidates making negative statements about each other then you should turn the sound off any time you are watching the news too (and cover up the screen scroll on the bottom and the right) because all "news" media and the ensuing commentary by the pundits is more negative than anything the candidates themselves are saying.
And by the way, this nonsense about "negative" campaigning is another myth created by the politically correct set to muzzle people making comments that challenge their assertions. And finally, if a little negative verbiage hurts your feelings this much then let me hazard a quick reminder that we are in a global war against Islamic Extremists. We have nut-jobs hurling things much more hurtful than words at us. Maybe we need a leader who can get down in the dirt and throw a few punches.

And FINALLY - #10. When the question was asked, "who are you voting for?" then "why?" there was honestly no tangible reason. This voter needs to be thankful her safety net was there with her because when quickly educated on how different the two candidates are on their abortion stance, an issue that is very important to this voter, in a light-bulb moment she cast her vote the other way.

In the case that you have already voted I would expect that you have some sort of conviction in your beliefs that prompted you to get out early so this probably doesn't apply to you. If not, please stop and think about WHY you are voting BEFORE you vote. If it really doesn't matter to you who's in the White House for the next four years (that's right, Carpet Installer Guy, it's a full four year term) then don't bother going and potentially canceling out someone's vote who has bothered to educate themselves on the issues and has at least enough of a belief that they are voting for the candidate that aligns with their own personal agenda.
Don't play Russian Roulette with your ballot just so you can get an "I Voted Today" sticker and feel good about yourself. The vote you fire off in your own blind ignorance could end up killing someone else's.

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