Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Vote?, Part I

I had a friend once tell me he'd sell me his presidential election ballot for $20. I tried to take him up on it, but he demurred.

About a year ago I decided never to vote again. Not for any philosophical reasons, but only for reasons of practicality: my vote will not make a difference. Democracy is a beautiful thing, and I am thankful for it and that I live under its life-giving branches--but you only need about a thousand or so people to decide an election.

Everything else is just . . . fluff.

"Jason, what if everyone thought like that!" scream the indignant masses.

I only think the way I do because of current conditions on the ground (i.e. about 150 million people in this country will cast a vote for their presidential candidate of choice). If everyone thought like me I would be living in an entirely different world, and therefore I would revise my position. Please come back to me when this comes to pass and I will update you on my perspective on the importance of voting.

All that to tell you this--I have again revised my position, I will be voting this year. I haven't changed any of my above views, don't worry about that. My problem is that, in spite of my better judgement, I enjoy talking politics. Here is why that is significant:

Jason's Political Life Through the Years:

0 - 17.75: Political Zero. I had no idea what politics were and what they were for. I couldn't tell a Republican from a parliamentarian from a wig from an anarchist.

17.75 - 20.25: Naive Radical Leftist. Jason, our political infant, gets idealistic girlfriend with facile notions of "the way it ought to be" and how we only need to align our consciousness properly, evolve, change, grow and soon we will be the change we wish to see in the world. I got angry with the powers that be. I got angry at the "sheeple" around me who were asleep and couldn't see they were being eaten alive by our consumerist, capitalistic culture. I posted unauthorized incendiary political cartoons around my community college campus, I argued with my parents a lot; I voted for Ralph Nader.

20.25 - 26ish: Naive Radical Republican. At some point after 20.25 I was having lunch with a friend and he asked me to explain my rationale for my Leftist leanings. I tried to explain, tried to make him understand, tried to bring it together and make it all makes sense. And I found it all just coming apart in my hands. Soon the realization arrived that the only way things would ever be the way I wanted them to be is if there was a national apocalypse and we were able to start over from scratch. Once that sunk in, my leftist ideals lost their sex appeal. Now, how a full pendulum swing to the right is birthed from that I am not exactly sure, but it happened. It started with a recommendation to AM talk radio . . . and I didn't look back for five years. I quickly became the reason why you wouldn't want to go to a party that I was at. I was loud, brash, arrogant, loud, strident. I was on a mission to bend the ignorant to my will. I developed a ferocious logic, sometimes irrespective of truth or facts, and shoved it in everyone's polite little face. Whatever topic it was, I Went There. I wrote conservative missives to my liberal professors, decried liberal bias in my linguistics and Women of Literature courses, lost a good friend because of an argument over the nature of racism over dinner one night. I always made sure I won the argument, no matter who was right, and no matter what relationship I jeopardized.

26ish - Present: Unmotivated, Quiet Conservative. Thankfully I fell out of love with politics. I realized that I had been manipulated, told to believe and espouse views to mobilize my vote, only to have the issue dropped into a garbage can or pushed to the back burner after the election was over. I saw conservatives rip apart liberals for advocating this or that, only to gain power and do the same thing they criticized. Disillusionment settled in very neatly. I stopped caring if conservatives gained power or not, seeing that no satisfaction was really delivered when they were in power. I found politics to be mostly a money and power game. It sunk in for me that the time I spent fretting about what was happening in Washington was colossally out of proportion to my influence over that environment--a ballot cast once every four years. I still care, but I try to make sure that care ranks where it should in my life--very low.

Wow, well, I didn't see that little political bio coming. I had set out to tell you where I stand this election season, and why I stand there, but I soon decided that you needed my political history to put my present day beliefs and predilections in context.

I do not believe in blog posts that are overly long, so I shall be breaking this post up.

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