I am astounded by the number of people around me who have declared that they are “sitting out this election.” How do you sit out an election? Did your voting finger get tendinitis? Are you drunk with giddiness because you voted for the winning contestant from American Idol? After that, other elections, like for the leadership of the nation, just seem too shallow?
Of course, the media doesn’t help matters. Over the past week I have seen too many news stories that told Americans that voting would be useless. Either they said the two political parties are interchangeable, the elections were already decided by polling, or that voting machines would simply discard their votes anyway.
CNN came up with one of the more bizarre voting conspiracies that I have seen to date. They showed that a Venezuela corporation manufactured a few voting machines. Of course, the next logical jump is to assume that Hugo Chávez will be deciding the composition of the U.S. Senate. Yeah, that's how the historical relationship between the U.S. and Latin America has worked. The U.S. is just a puppet of leftist Latin American dictators.
Trust me, I can understand how people get turned off of voting. Voting in Texas elections depresses me. For over a century and a half, Texas has worked to keep people like me from expressing my voice in elections. Today, voting Left in Texas is a lot like running around the Hindenburg with a seltzer bottle. No matter how hard you try to put out the fire, the Nazis still controlled both burning piles of wreckage. Oh, the humanity!
Disappointment can be found even deeper. The Democratic Party has become so useless that many of the local Texas elections don’t even have a Democratic candidate. I mean, they couldn’t find anybody who wanted to run as a Democrat for the state legislature from my district? Anybody? Somebody's Aunt Sally? Anybody?
The Democrats should be fielding candidates in every single election. Maybe the party does think it's an uphill battle. I don’t care. On principle, they should put out a candidate. It doesn’t matter to me if the Democratic candidate is a twenty-six year-old-stripper. Heck, there are many reasons why I would trust a twenty-six-year-old stripper over 95 percent of Republicans, and 99 percent of Texas Republicans.
Since I have arrived in Boston, here is the question I get asked most often: “Is Texas really as scary and hateful as it seems?” The question presumes the answer. What can I say? “No, man, Texas is just fine. When Governor Rick Perry told all gay people to leave the state, it was just his way of encouraging tourism for the other forty-nine states. He wants to spread our queer Texas dollars around a bit. Why be greedy?”
To be honest, I also don’t really care about the future of Texas. I hope not to return, if I can help it. In the last major Texas election, 76 percent of Texan voters favored a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Though good people live in Texas, for the most part, Texan voters are riddled with hate and malice for people like me.
I think we should treat Texas like an Etch-a-Sketch©. Let’s put the whole state over our head and shake it until it’s clear again. Start over from scratch, is what I say. Either that or we need to start learning from the deceptive practices of the Christian Evangelicals to fight back a bit.
Some states have warped the notion of “informed consent” for women trying to obtain her legal right to an abortion. In these instances, women have to sit through a lecture about the alleged consequences of having an abortion. Often times, these present unconfirmed or disputed information about abortions as “facts.” We can flip the tables and start applying “informed consent” laws when people register to vote.
A voter who registers as a Republican would immediately be referred to a voting “counselor.” The voting counselor would ask some basic questions:
I see you marked “Republican.” Is your annual income over $200,000 per year?
Are you white?
Are you male?
Are you hetero?
If the answer to all these questions is "yes" and you are white, straight, and male, off you go. Good luck.
If not, the Counselor responds with a predetermined set of warnings:
“I am obligated by law to inform you that voting Republican will adversely affect your standard of living. Under Republican administrations, real wages have either stayed static or actually decreased while inflation has risen.After they hear all of that and sign a release, they can register as a Republican. I am tired of poor folk voting against their own economic interest just because they hate gays, or people of Islamic faith, or because they think George Bush watches NASCAR.
Those who want a small federal government should know that Republican administrations since Ronald Reagan have actually increased the scope and size of the U.S. federal government by many fold.
Voting Republican will decrease your child’s chances for an adequate education.
Voting Republican might mean the end of certain civil and/or human rights in the U.S.
Women who are pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, should not vote Republican.
Voting Republican has been linked to signs of depression and, in extreme cases, psychopathic behavior.
Republicans want to eliminate people who desire same-sex sex. If you currently, or have in the past, had sex with somebody of your same sex, you should not vote Republican.
Side effects of voting Republican can include poverty, anxiety or nervousness, abnormal sweating (particularly if your last name is Nixon), change in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, headache, nausea, sedation, seizure, skin rash, homlessness, stomach cramps, trouble sleeping, and dry mouth.
Voting Republican does not protect against STD’s. In some cases, it might increase your chances of contracting a STD by reducing your access to condoms.
Voting Republican is habit forming. You can become physically and psychologically dependent on the party and lose the ability for independent thought.
If you experience any of the above serious side effects, stop voting Republican immediately and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately.
So, yeah, I know that voting can seem like a losing battle sometimes. All the same, I ain’t giving up what I think of as my basic right and obligation. Too many people fought and died for my right to punch a hole, mark an x, blow out a candle, or whatever to register my voice in the government. Even if my ballot ends up in the shredder, at least somebody will know my disapproval of the status quo.
I still want to scream every time I remember the only third parties you can usually vote for in Virginia are Constitution or Libertarian, so basically you get to choose the pure evangelical or the Objectivist ideological strands of the Republican Party as your "alternatives."
I think people choose to sit it out because of the massive amounts of fraud in the election process. Even going to the polls can lead to further frustration. Last election, my roommate was given the voter form for a district we don't live in. Then, when it was collected, the woman placed it off to the side instead of in an secured box.
Personally, I vote by mail because I am equally frustrated by the process (and the results). I just think of it as renewing a magazine subscription.
Voting is a responsibility and shouldn't be a choice. Or, voting is a privelege and voters should be qualified in some way. I'm not sure which way I lean.
Um, regarding having candidates in every race - things have changed, structurally, in the past 2 years.
Have you heard of a 50 State Strategy which is now the DNC mode of operations? It's been kind of a big deal for those following politics.
The existing Dem establishment DID have a hard time buying it, but it's already begun - it's why there is actually a chance of a house turnover this year. When some formerly unopposed GOP candidates turned sour this year, there were "magically" Democratic alternatives available (read this recent Time column).
Unlike past years, it's pretty rare to find a house seat without a D-candidate. (Looking at the candidate lists here, TX only has one missing, TX-11.) And there's actually money flowing to them, as well.
I know there's a long road even with that approach – this is also flowing into the state-level, but it's going to take at least another cycle or two to be noticeable, but there is hope – more than hope… action.
Oh PLEASE don't turn Texas upside down. Some of that 76% might fall out into other states, and we're having a devil of a time with our own creeps, thankyouverymuch.
This will be only my second time voting. Before I never thought it mattered. When W came up for reelection, I toddled over to my precinct, got my properly labelled ballot, and wished mightily for a HELL NO, Anybody But Bush option.
This year, I'm wishing for a Dem option and a Are You Kidding Me? option in each race.
Sitting it out?!?!?! What the? I've never known anyone to sit it out. Probably, that's due to my appalling paucity of social contacts, but still . . . I just can't imagine such a thing.
The possibility - some (*cough* Earl *cough*) might call it inevitability - of election fraud is even more of a reason to vote. The more overwhelming our numbers, the harder it will be for the cheats to pull it off. And every election we "lose" puts us that much closer to an assurance that our votes won't count.
Chad: I appreciate the frustration. Still, many of the elections on my Texas ballot had a single candidate, a Republican.
Jeremy: Mail it in, fax it in, do whatever – as long as you vote.
Torn: You and Alexander Hamilton faced the same dilemma. Actually, I am not sure where I fall from day to day either.
Atari: It’s good the Democratic Party is starting to make some changes. Goddess knows they needed it. Still, on my official Texas ballot, the following positions did not have a Democrat candidate:
State Representative, District 14 (The Democratic Party Web Page you pointed me to lists a candidate, but this person was not on my ballot).
Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Unexpired Term
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 4
Justice Supreme Court, Place 6
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals,
Judge, Court of Appeals, Place 8
Chief Justice, 10th Court of Appeals
District Judge, 85th Court of Appeals
District Judge, 361st Judicial District
Those are some pretty important positions not to have any candidate.
Pacalaga: Thank the Goddess you started voting. We need reasonable voters out there.
Earl: I totally agree. Election fraud is a reality in this country (I am looking at you, Ohio). Still, the solution is not to stop voting. We have to demand our votes actually be counted.
I need to send this link to my brother, who always votes Republican (AUGH!), but doesn't make anywhere close to $200K. I don't understand why he votes that way, especially since he comes from a family of bleeding heart liberals (yay!).
By ratcheting up the sleaze and negative ads, you suppress voter turnout. Most of those disgusted with the process and staying at home are Democrats. For the past several decades it's been "all mud, all the time." I never thought how bad it could get until I saw the anti-Ford ad that ran in Tennessee. I'm hoping the electorate becomes more sophisticated and sees mud for what it is. As for the district without a candidate to run, I could recommend a certain Gay Prof who could ignite the electorate as no man has done before.
I think your republican warnings should be mandatory on all republican commercials like the side effects warnings in pharmacuetical commercials. "Please consult your voting counselor before voting republican. Pregnant women should not vote republican. Do not operate heavy machinery..."
I'm guilty of being a predominately apathetic voter for most of my life, but for some reason when I moved out to California I changed all that, I keep voting in every election I can, I missed a local one last year because I had just moved and my change of address was still going through, I hated missing it, even if it was only about two referendums that weren't that big of a change to the community. Here's to being politically active, cheers!
I still want to meet "dangling Chad" and see if I can't help him with that dangling problem.
I have to say this is the first year I've partaken in any kind of voting. Even though I was completely disheartened by the debates that reminded me of a Jeopardy tournament gone wrong, and even though I'm in Florida where it's a real bitch of a thing to whittle down the lesser evils... I will still do it because I can.
Why doesn't my etch-a-sketch do what yours does?
I just wish the Democrats would start fielding a DEMOCRAT in every open campaign rather than thinking they have to behave like Republicans to win. It isn't the conservatism that necessarily wins for the Republicans, it is having a clear vision and some conviction about that vision, even if it is evil. Studies have shown time and time again that most Americans hold values that lean toward being progressive, but they vote for Republicans anyway. Why? Because at least the Republicans stand for something. I'm sure Texas has the same problem we have in Kentucky, that of Democrats In Name Only. It drives me bananas. I don't sit out entire elections, but I do sit our certain races. I made the decision last election that while you don't have to support my family necessarily, if you go after my family legislatively, I will not vote for you even if the guy who is running against you is Satan himself.
Sorry to blather on...this obviously gets my goat. Let's talk about what a hot sailor Gayprof is! :)
do you read "something positive," an online comic. i think you'd be able to really relate/enjoy the current story line. it's on the drop-down menu of comics on my blog.
oh, an on voting...
since i turned 18 many moons ago, i have voted in every single civic, provincial and federal election that canada has had. i feel it is my duty as a citizen to cast my vote even if i feel that the candidate i vote for isn't going to win.
i figure that if a person doesn't vote, then they have no right to complain about who ends up in office. it's their own damned fault. they could have added their vote to mine, or even voted for a fringe candidate.
Elections for me are generally depressing if I must look at it in terms of "Democrat" or "Republican", much less any of the minor third parties which have never seated anyone above a gubernatorial (Jesse "the Body" Ventura in Minn.) or the one congressional seat (which was a Demo or a Republican changing to Independent mid-term).
I see little reason to vote a straight "row A" (Democrat) or "row B" (Republican) as my father might have done in the past.
I tend to vote along the lines of "who will be the guy/gal least likely to jack things up" for the next x years. It just so happens that I support a few Democrat hopefuls in my local elections and for a congressional seat, mainly because the sea-hag (Sue Kelly, R, NY-19) who is the incumbent could not possibly do a worse job than she has for the past several years.
And... I'd like to see voting machines outlawed. Go back to the old fashioned tree-murdering practice of paper ballots with secured lock-boxes and triple-redundant banks of human counters.
Great post. I have a friend who has done the opposite of you. She grew up in Boston and is now living in Fort Worth, Texas. She is fairly progressive. She was at work one day and turned the radio to a classical station. Her co-worker turned to her, giggled, and asked, "What's that?!"
I think this is more what I mean when I was talking about fraud in the process.
Neat blog, I reckon I got here from a link on Manolo's but then the point is i got here. Have fun voting ...
It's sort of after the fact, but I suspect you COULD have voted in MA instead of TX. Unless you told them you're temporarily there - and how do you REALLY know you're going back? - then you live where you live. Lots of downstate NYS students vote around here (Albany area). Voting laws are different from state to state, but I have a LONG history of dealing with arcane laws and even winning a couple battles.
What about those women who are planning *not* to get pregnant? I would say their the ones who *really* shouldn't vote Republican!
Which means no woman should vote Republican unless she's a virgin and plans to stay that way. Oh wait, then she shouldn't vote Republican because they'll do their level best to reduce her options and force her to marry someone, and prevent her from divorcing him to boot.
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