My Absent Voter’s Ballot came today. It’s an intriguing mix of mystery, power, and wonder. As I look over the ballot I see a number of names and parties I don’t recognize. I’m filled with a feeling of independent freedom, a feeling that my vote is powerful. At the same time, does it really matter? Would a vote for John Hagelin of the Natural Law party mean anything? Part of me says yes, while I know Hagelin won’t come close to having 1% of the vote, it would send a message to the big time parties that they aren’t meeting the needs of some people. At the same time, that’s a tiny percentage of people. It feels like a game of numbers. Is a vote for Ralph Nader really a vote for George W. Bush? Does it have to come down to two major parties and a few rinkydink minor parties that squabble for a chance to prove that 2% of the American population isn’t satisfied with the democrats and the republicans. And why does it always come down to squabbling? It’s pretty obvious from watching the debates that both candidates have different views on different issues because they approach problems from different angles. Why can’t they sit down and spell out how they solve problems and why, and then debate the attributes of those approaches? They can make all kinds of accusations, but it’s all because they do things differently. Can we clear away the rhetoric and look at the issues? When that becomes clear then there is no more room for debate. There is only room for the action of the American voter. We have this wonderful democracy, but we make it so difficult.
I’ve always assumed that if you are a Christian, you vote Republican. No one ever told me this directly, but it’s something I’ve picked up from sermons, articles, and Christian rhetoric. Recently I’ve been refining my faith and asking difficult questions about what I believe
And so they babble on and on. They make great speeches (or not so great) and tell me what great things they’re going to do. Some of them sound like ideas they thought up yesterday. They take pointed little jabs at the opposition and cover any holes in their own armor, even if it means losing face. Perhaps there are some issues they just don’t care about. Of course you can’t tell the country that, so you act like you care, and you come off waffling.
Cynicism. It’s overwhelming me as I read reports of the Republican National Convention and all the election year news. But I am trying to sift through it all and make some sort of sense of it.
One interesting thing I found today was the comments of the wife of Dick Cheney, Bush’s choice for vice president. There’s a lot of tension in her voice and she seems to be offended at the idea her daughter could be gay. She claims her daughter’s not gay, but the evidence says otherwise. Either way you can sense the fear in her voice. Homophobia rising up, at least in the families of our presidential nominees. I find this somewhat troubling.
I’ll try not to end on such a cynical note. I found another interesting thing. Collin Powell made a speech at the convention that seemed rather intriguing. He spoke as a Republican to Republicans, but he wasn’t afraid to be a voice of dissention. He called for racial reconciliation
The presidential election is near at hand and I can’t help but feel a sense of patriotic duty. I also can’t help but feel a sense of patriotic uselessness. Politics seems to be such a far cry from the common person that I question how we have any influence at all. Look at the people running. George W. Bush and Al Gore. Where did these guys come from? Al Gore is a little more well known. He’s been the vice president for eight years doing a whole lot of who knows what. Before that he was a senator doing who knows what. George W. Bush is the governor of Texas, and that’s about all I can tell you. Just how he launched himself into the national scene, I don’t quite know.
Yes, yes, those of you who are smarter than me will roll your eyes and lecture me on the campaign process, the primaries and all that fun stuff. But I can’t help but wonder who really cares. I’ve yet to see a candidate that I felt would actually listen to my opinion. I’ve yet to see a candidate that comes close to lining up with my values. It’s like a lose-lose situation. Perhaps I’m just not in the majority. Perhaps I’m just not well educated. Perhaps I’m just a little cynical. I can’t help but feel there’s a closed door meeting held somewhere that determines who gets to be president. The election process is a sham, two puppets from which to choose, but really there’s only one puppet master.
Is this just me, or is this years of conspiracy talk and apathy? No wonder voter turn out is so low. However, I plan to vote. I’m not entirely sure what it will accomplish, and I’m not entirely sure which puppet I’ll choose, but at least I’ll exercise my rights. Maybe somehow this year will be different. Then again, maybe not.
What’s the idea of “American”? We grow up with these notions of certain things being firmly American: apple pie, baseball, rock ‘n roll, the protestant work ethic, cars, the American Dream. Sometimes I wonder where it all comes from and why these pressures continue to mount on us today. When the first colonies were settled and people were trying to carve out their existence in the face of harsh weather, few supplies, and a native people who wanted to remain native, did those colonists ever look forward and wonder what life would be like on this continent in several hundred years? Did they realize how much of the land would be swallowed up and consumed with concrete? Did they realize that the people inhabiting the land would continue to carry on many of the ethics they started with?
Tonight I watched most of the State of the Union Address. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see much hope in politics. Somehow I see fault in a system where a president stands up and talks about the State of the Union, and everything is positive and happy-go-lucky. Never mind the fact that the president is currently undergoing an impeachment trial, the first such trial in over 100 years. I’m sorry, but when Bill talks about restoring Family Values, I just can’t seem to trust him. You’ve lost all my respect Bill, you should just give up now. And the rest of politics isn’t much better. The Republican Reaction? What was that all about? No, we don’t have an excessively partisan political system. And what’s up with the applause during tonight’s address? They write his speech with pauses and voice inflections for applause. This isn’t Letterman, it’s the State of the Union speech. And what’s with all the special guests? Let’s just write a speech, and comment on some good stuff, and we’ll just happen to have the people connected to the good stuff here. We’ll show them off like some kind of trophy prize. Politics really makes me sick.