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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I Don't Vote

This is one of several columns I wrote in an attempt to get hired by some papers and/or press syndicates over the last few months. There hasn't been much of a response, so I feel like I should post this one before it's no longer relevant. Hopefully it doesn't hurt my chances with some editor that just hasn't gotten to my email yet.

Go vote, children.


Every so often, I have these political arguments with my buddy, Chris. The problem is not that we don’t agree on policies or issues or even usually the character of the people running and commentating. In fact, we’re usually in solid agreement as far as what the facts of all of these situations are.

Our point of contention boils down to the following quote from Uncle Hunter, and the fact that it completely and exclusively encapsulates my opinion of our political landscape:

“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy – then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.”

See, I’ve never voted in a major election. I’ve been a registered Independent voter since 2006, and I have yet to perform what I’m told is my foremost civic duty. And the reason is that I haven’t yet seen a politician run for office that I thought truly had any of my interests at heart.

Regardless of supposed party affiliation, the majority of these people have no interest in the well-being of their constituencies or any true belief in their platforms. With the emergence of modern polling practices and the advents in communication technology that took place in the latter half of the 20th century, the game changed. Since the mid-1960s, politics in this country has been a numbers game. Our governmental representation is now largely determined by the “fixers” running the two major parties and working behind the scenes in election campaigns.

The lobbyists, the special interest groups, the corporations and billionaires we all rage against for hijacking our country really have those guys more in their pocket than the politicians themselves. But the politicians will do whatever it takes to get elected, and the people telling them how to do that have figured out who among us are statistically likely to vote. They’ve figured out who they need to listen to in order to win the numbers game.

“That’s why you have to start voting now,” insists Chris, “When I was in my twenties, I thought it was pointless because I only viewed it as a ‘short game,’ too. Why should I elect these fuckers who are barely any better than the other guys? Who cares? Thing is, it’s a ‘long game.’ Voting shows them that you’re paying attention, and little by little nudges their policy in the direction of your interests. Right now the only people expressing what they want are over 50; and a lot of them are rich people and old racists.”

And the next few times are starting to seem like they might actually matter. This midterm election is poised, according to many, to determine the future of at least one of our major political parties. The next presidential election will probably determine the political leanings of our highest court for possibly up to the next twenty years. That’s ten election cycles; the set up for a long game.

The best way to begin to shape our government into one that more accurately represents its people and their hopes for the future is to take the campaign advisors and career political analysts out of the game. If there was a single election where third-party candidates who weren’t under the thumb of bipartisan political agendas won even an uncomfortable minority of congressional seats (or possibly even if they just created a Tea-Party-like media sensation, but without the nationalist lunacy), everything “experts” think they know about how politics works in this country would be out the window.

But that can only happen if we all choose for it to.

For more of Miljen's rants about the socio/political/economic status quo (in a less direct format), buy his book, Passerby, for the extremely reasonable price of $2.99

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