Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thank you for voting

Today is election day in the States, and I want to take a moment to thank my American coworkers, neighbors, friends, and lover for going out and voting.

I had a bitter, bitter experience with my first vote. It was back when Free Trade was the big issue on the table, and Mulroney's stupendous chin was hovering over the whole thing, and I actually wore a "just say no" pin around and pushed my coworkers and friends to go and vote. They all readily agreed that Free Trade (in the proposed form) was a really bad idea, and of course they were going to vote, and everybody needed to vote, rah rah.

Then when the battle was good and lost, which alone wouldn't make me bitter because that's democracy (of a sort), I quizzed my friends and coworkers who'd been all fired up the day before. And... they hadn't got around to it. "I had to work." "I was going to go, but the Subway is so crowded at that time of day." "I slept in."

It's one thing to say your vote doesn't matter. It's another thing entirely to say that your friends and neighbors don't matter. And whether it would have made a difference or not, those people are counting on you to TRY.

So today I live in a country that only has two viable political parties, and at least fifty per cent (probably more) of the population believes in exactly the opposite things than I did back when I was a voter in Canada. Why should I care if they go out and vote? They've all done a pretty good job of convincing me that both parties are pretty horrendous, and I have only to watch the political ads to see that the plot of this saga was long since lost to cardboard characters. What's the point?

The point is this:

If it won't make any difference to your life, if neither party would really represent you or affect you in a positive way, that's fine. But when you don't go out and vote, you're not saying you don't care who represents you. You're saying you don't care who represents everybody else.

Who's getting shit on these days, is my question? Who is getting shit on that just damn well doesn't deserve it? If it's not you, it's somebody else. And it's your job in a democracy --in a workable society-- to care about how your community and your nation is governed.

It's not just about your own taxes, or your own property value, or your own private schools or local fire department. It's not just about your factory, and it's not just about your pollution controls. It's not even about your fish in the sea (for later sushi). It's about your nation. When things are right, actually, it's not even about your nation -it's about the world.

When you care about that, there's some hope for this idiotic place.

When you don't, there's none.

I know I know. Crazy bekbek. I don't think your individual vote is worth anything, truth be told. But I do think that act itself, of taking your own oh-so-precious time and going out to register a vote for everybody else... is worth a hell of a lot.

So, thanks.


JamesJames said...

You idealistic Canadian...

Truth is, individual votes *don't* matter in the U.S. because the simple matter of counting the votes can't even be done right.

Should you give up, and throw in the towel? Of course not. But, please, I know there's a delicious cynical core in there just waiting to get out.

Let it out, bek. Let it out.

bekbek said...

Wouldn't that be telling?

Okay, cynical core: I don't expect most voters (far beyond the "average" voter) to have the cognitive and critical abilities required to actually grasp the problems in their voting systems. Not to mention the free will required to criticize their leadership and demand better. They'd rather sit there and tell me that I'm spouting paranoid conspiracy theories -because it's always a bogus theory if it's about those in power.

Finally, I think most of them are intensely selfish in a way that is actually celebrated as if it's not just a right here, but an integral part of the American character. And therefore the more selfish they are in deciding who and what to vote for, the better. People who will vote for a ban on gay marriage, for instance, are mostly of two kinds: Those who fear the wide world and can't ignore the wide world as long as it deviates in any manner from what they're accustomed to; and those who just don't give a shit about anybody who's not in thier perceived community (i.e. not gay, goodness no).

Remember, you asked.

Cynical? Pfft. I'm a glass half empty and proud of it.

But the same way I believe that we need health care for everyone -because then we're surrounded BY HEALTHY PEOPLE- I believe that everyone needs to vote.

Because then we're surrounded by people that have demonstrated a willingness to make a fucking effort that isn't about their own immediate comfort. No matter how small.

That is all.

(Wow, I might have to delete this comment. What kind of rant... oh nevermind...)

Luther said...

What? Becky rant? Never! But it is a good rant, I always love a good rage against apathy and the machine.

btw, this is my blogger cherry, was it good for you?