Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I voted yesterday and here's why

I waited until the very last moment to vote (I left yesterday for Brussels, so I will not be in Chicago on election day).

I had been thinking that I wouldn't bother voting this time around. I am quite disgusted generally with the surreal state of affairs (many people seemingly ready to vote for the greedy, corrupt Republicans who spent the eight years with "W" destroying our nation and driving millions of citizens to poverty, misery and/or death). But I am also very disappointed with Barack Obama. I realize he could not perform miracles, but the compromises he made that led to the awful health care "reform", the $708 billion "defense" budget he proposed, the ridiculous waffling on "don't ask, don't tell", the continued aggressive attack on progressive activists, "illegal" immigrants and marijuana growers, and the steadfast support for "titans of finance" leave me feeling like he sure doesn't represent my interests very well.

And then in Illinois, our current governor is a nice guy, but not very effective. The Democrat running to take Obama's seat in the Senate owned a bank (with his family) that failed and cost taxpayers millions. "My" congresswoman is progressive on everything but Israel, and on that topic she is just awful and treated me like dirt when I confronted her about her "love of Israel."

Sigh...what's a nice, bleeding heart progressive like me to do?

Well, I finally accepted that while I didn't have lots of reasons to vote FOR anyone, I had plenty of reasons to vote against others.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate is a horror on "social" issues like abortion and is completely mealy-mouthed about what he would do to solve our budget problems. The Republican running for Senate is the sort of fellow who lied about his military record in Vietnam and elsewhere. I can't bring myself to vote for a guy who tries to explain away saying he served under fire, got this award or that - when he did no such thing. Disgusting. How you can trust anyone who does that and then won't even own up to it?

So I voted Democratic for the key "big ticket" offices, and went Green on the rest (I could not in the end bring myself to vote for Jan Schakowsky. If she is defeated by a right-wing, Orthodox Jew who baited her for being "soft" on the Palestinians, well, then I say it serves her right).

I have a feeling that the closer we get to election day, the closer the races will become. It's one thing to express disgust with Obama and the Democrats. It's quite another thing to capitulate to the corporations and other super-rich who are trying to buy this election through anonymous attack ads, and let right-wing extremists, nut jobs and just plain ruthless ideologues to dig themselves in deeper.


Belly said...

Good for you Steven.

I agree with a lot (though not all) you say. But even if I would disagree completly, still I think you should vote. Even if it's for 'the wrong person' in my or anybodies opinion.

It's not that I think voting should be mandatory, but I think if you don't vote, what you're basicly saying is "I don't care, let the others deside whoe will govern me th next couple of years".

And that's fine too. But in my humble opinion it means you've lost your right to criticize the choice the others made, because your choice was to let them do the thinking.

And since you do not strike me as a person who can just quitely accept government choices, I think you made the right choice by choosing yourself.


Noons said...

One thing that folks should not confuse is this: mandatory voting does not mean you lost any "freedoms"!

Those are lost in completely different ways...

Mandatory attendabce does NOT mean that one has to vote in a candidate!

It means that one must attend the voting act on election day and be counted as having exercised one's right to vote. Nothing wrong with that.

If one actually votes in one candidate, or informally, or just invalid, that is entirely between the Gods and that person!

But in a democracy, one should attend the voting act rather than leave it to others to decide their fate.
I repeat: that does NOT mean one has to vote in any given candidate!

It is surprising how many times I hear the old tired "compulsory voting limits my freedoms" mantra: nothing could be more untrue.

How do I know? Well, here in Australia attendance on voting day is compulsory, and thank the Gods for that. It doesn't mean I have to actually vote for anyone!

And I haven't, many times: a blank vote is counted as blank. And one where I insult one or more candidates is simply counted as informal.

I haven't lost any "freedoms" that I can identify: quite the opposite in fact!

Joel Garry said...

Not voting is like null in the database: it is not a value. It is unknown why you have not voted - in some cases, people don't vote as a protest against the choices, some because they are sheep, some don't care. In Noon's example, blank becomes null, the why is still unknown.

But you certainly don't lose your right to criticize, in the US anyways. That's a very important concept. It's partially illusion of course - say you're a liberal in some places and people just laugh. Tell airport security not to touch your genitals and it's like you yell fire in a theater.

We have a representative democracy here. What no one has figured out is how to represent non-majority (or non-wealthy) viewpoints - the best that anyone has come up with is a defensive set of constitutional rights, limited consumer protections, and easily abused torts. Having two major parties results in either watered-down compromise or gridlock.

But it is still better than Iraq.

word: sesio

Gary Myers said...

One difference between "attending and not voting" and "not attending" is that the former offers some protection against someone 'stealing' your vote by voting in your place.
Its the difference between a row with a primary key and a null value and no row at all.