Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Voting

  Even though it's two years old now, there is a video clip from CBS news I stumbled across, and can't resist writing about. It's a news interview in which actor Matt Damon speaks about the potential of Sarah Palin becoming president of the United States if she were to be sworn in as vice president:



  What is my favorite part of that whole clip? Mr. Damon's incredulity at the shockingly irresponsible decision making and apathy demonstrated by the American voting public. The fact that the ignorant (ie- to willfully ignore) nature of our society in such matters is the part that left him speechless, literally just shaking his head at one point. I don't like his point simply because of any political party lines or ideological differences-- I like it simply because rational, critical thinking in politics is such a rare thing these days.

  Seeing someone objectively call out important thoughts about our nation's leaders which we should all at least consider, is so refreshing I could barely remain seated in my chair. (I tend to pace back and forth when I get really excited about something.) The whole interview, I was just waiting for him to reach out and tap on the lens of the camera, and say: "Hello people, is this thing on? Are you listening?"

  Okay, so it's no revelation that as individuals and as a nation, we clearly stand to benefit from more educated, objective analysis in our decision making processes. This of course applies to every social and political level of our society. Yes, that means you and it means me too. It includes the millions of people of the good old state in which I live, whose political decision making process seems all too often to consist roughly of: "Well, I think that one guy said something about family values in one of their speeches, I guess he would make a good representative."

Some years ago I had a personal encounter with the phenomenon of people choosing to ignore significant problems come voting day. Warning: the following contains a substantial amount of sarcasm. If you are easily offended, proceed at your own risk.  ;-)

  It was 2004, and George W. Bush was up for re-election. By that time, the choice was a bit of a forgone conclusion for me since I was already unable to accept that a man who does not properly pronounce a noticeable portion of the English language, had been elected as the most powerful leader in the country. So after all the trouble Bush got us into during his first term, not to mention that I had a brother in the marines who was stationed in Iraq whom I wanted to see again someday-- I was ready for someone else to be president.

  I had also been engaging in the pesky habit of reading the news past the front page; this was a gateway to other nasty behaviors like critical thinking, asking hard questions, and fact-checking. Finally, I headed down the treacherous path of ...wait for it... developing an informed opinion, independent of social pressure or previous political bias. (Gasp!)

  Therefore, I voted for the other guy. I use the term "other guy" in tribute to the fact that every time I have found myself standing in a voting booth, I have not been particularly pleased as punch with the options laid out before me. The phrase "lesser of two evils" definitely comes to mind. So I definitely had some issues with Kerry, but we have an "election" based system which realistically only gives you two options to choose from at the end of the day. So I at least knew for certain that I did not want Bush executing any more of his "brilliant strategery" like lying about weapons of mass destruction, essentially telling the United Nations to bend to "our" will or go to hell, and last but not least: vaporizing our constitutional rights in the name of anti-terrorism, faster than you can say "I-guess-the-founding-fathers-gave-their-lives-to-write-and-ratify-that-document-and-the-ideas-it-represents-for-nothing". Looks like the joke is on you president Washington- you would understand how unnecessary your life's work was if you lived in a time when controlling the right oil fields can make you millions of dollars overnight because your family just happens to be in the oil business.

  So anyway... fast forward about a month, the 2004 presidential election is history. My wife and I are at a party with some friends, and conversation turns to the outcome of the election. So I listen politely as each person voiced their opinions on the most recent result of our hallowed democratic process. When it came my turn, I said: "well, I am pretty bummed that W got re-elected, I voted for Kerry..." I was literally unable to complete my sentence before being interrupted by audible gasps and exclamations of disbelief. Have you ever been stared at by a group of people as if you had just proclaimed your undying passion for punching babies? Back that off a hair, and those are the kind of looks I was getting.

  In all fairness, I can't help but see their point though- where do I get off using my brain all on my own without worrying about what other people are going to think? To have the audacity of not voting republican in a republican state, and surrounded primarily by members of a certain church whose membership is predominately republican to boot. Which by the way, is officially known as the "double-decker social suicide". I have not had any memorable political or religious conversations with any of those friends since that occasion. I suppose striking out with your friends over religion and politics in one fell blow is pretty much game over.

  But hey, so there are people who would have been happy with Dot Warner as the president of the United States of America (should father time come calling to Mr. McCain unexpectedly)... so what? They have every right to enjoy the pretty white "fairy dust" falling slowly from the sky at their next family barbecue- courtesy of the Commander in Chief who thought that pushing the big red button labeled: "cruise missile" meant she would be vacationing that summer on a big boat with all you can eat dinners.

  I heard the entertainment on those ships can be pretty cool, and I am a Michael Bubl√© fan after all. I'm not much of a shuffleboard guy though.  ;-)

2 comments:

  1. That link titled "in the oil business" is crazy! The ties that the Bush family have are ... just wow...no words...

    Love the style of writing!

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  2. I'll admit, I am a member of the apathetic horde. I have no real defense, but I think I shy away from all things political for two reasons. First is that I truly do not feel that I can make a difference. Yeah yeah they say everyone can make a difference, and to some extent, they can. But I think beyond that extent is where the real problems lie, and if I can't solve them, I ignore them. And my secondary excuse is, as you mentioned, there isn't a 'good' and 'bad' choice. It's always the lesser of two evils. That is the thing I can't change, and I hate it, so I avoid it. It's not even really a conscious decision, I just automatically turn my thoughts to some problem that I can actually affect. Pathetic, I know. Sigh.

    And Ryan made me play shuffleboard on our cruise. He won. :)

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