Thursday, February 7, 2008

Is this Soap Box taken?

They say the two subjects that one should never discuss at the dinner table or in mixed company are religion and politics…..well I’ve already broken that rule here in regards to religion (wave hello to all the Christo-fascists who still stop by here occasionally to see if I’ve said anything worth flaming me over)…so why not wade into the murky waters of politics as well?

I did my civic duty and voted on Tuesday. I went mid-morning to avoid the ‘crowds’ that all the news outlets had said to expect. The ‘crowd’ at my local polling place consisted of five octogenarians and one half-asleep college student holding a Hillary sign in the parking lot. Inside, all of the seniors were crowded around the Republican table, which gave me a clear shot to the Democrat table. I filled out my paper ballot, slid it through the optical scanner and I was in and out in under 5 minutes.

The process would have taken even less time if one of the seniors in front of me at the scanner hadn’t had his ballot repeatedly rejected by the machine. The volunteer stationed at the scanner suggested to the man that he may have ‘inadvertently’ voted for two people, and sure enough the woman in front of me held up her ballet to look at it and I noticed she had voted for McCain and Huckabee. The two of them got off the line and had to go back and request replacement ballots. Printed clearly across the top of our ballots were the instructions to Pick ONE Candidate but apparently that doesn’t apply to people who just can’t make up their minds.
I know those of us on the Democratic side have had a hard time choosing between two candidates who are essentially similar (gender and race notwithstanding), but McCain and Huckabee?? From what I’ve gleaned from the talking heads on TV, these candidates are of two different political stripes (moderate vs Christian conservative) and the average Republican voter is either for one or the other.

Of course, that’s assuming that the average voter takes the time to understand who it is they’re actually voting for. One of the 21-year-olds that I work with said he would probably vote for Obama because he “can’t stand Hillary,” but “Huckabee is kind of cool too.”
When I explained to him that his choices are on opposite ends of the political spectrum he admitted that all he know about Huckabee came from his appearances on The Daily Show.
Once again personality trumps issues.

Not that it matters in this young man’s case, he was counting down the hours until he turned 21 and could legally drink, but registering to vote isn’t even on his radar screen. He loves to comment on politics and initiates most of the Bush-bashing that goes on at work, but he has no plans to actually participate in the process that would give him a voice in how this country is run.
And he has plenty of company.

The news outlets are touting how this primary had a “record turnout” in the 24 states in which they were held, but those “record” numbers amounted on average to about 30% of registered voters. New York had a “record” 18% turnout at their primary. 18%???? Granted, this was only a primary, registered Independents were not included, and the other 82% of NYers were probably doing their civic duty by attending the Giants Super Bowl victory parade, but even in Presidential elections the average voter turnout in this country is only 50-55%, that puts the US in 20th place out of 21 nations that have established democracies. Only Switzerland is worse than us when it comes to voter turnout (those crazy Swiss, they just love exercising their right to be neutral).

I would expect that the political party that supports our current President and the war he instigated in the name of protecting our American Way of Life, would have a 100% turnout on election day. It seems to me that if one is willing to send young men and women to die in the name of freedom, one would actually take advantage of said freedom and get off one’s keaster and vote. But that’s just me.
I’m just a crazy liberal lesbian who’s undermining the fabric of this God-fearing nation just by existing.
But I voted. Heh, heh. heh, (insert evil laugh here).

American apathy usually takes the blame for our abysmal voter turn outs. People are tired of politics, they mistrust politicians in general, and they don’t have the time or the inclination to educate themselves on the issues or the candidates (that would cut into the time allotted to watching American Idol and reading up on the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears).
So we glean what we can from paid commercials, candidate appearances on TV talk shows, and 5-second sound bites from the 13 debates that we didn’t watch.

And we wonder why people choose candidates based on personality/likeability?
“Heck, this guy may have a voting record that is polar opposite to what I believe, but he made me laugh when I saw him on the David Letterman show so he’s got my vote!”


This is how we ended up with you-know-who for eight years.
People voted for the good-old-boy who rode horses and talked just like them, rather than the guy who flaunted his education with all sorts of big words and complex responses to questions that made him look all wishy-washy-flippy-floppy.

We want simple responses and black and white solutions.
We want someone who’ll stick to their guns no matter how unreasonable it is to do so.
We want the decider.
We got him.
And I’m ready to give him back.

So the moral to this little diatribe is:

EDUCATE yourselves and VOTE!

Vote for the candidate who you feel will best represent you and the kind of country you want to live in, be it Democrat, Republican, or Independent.

And try not to be like the woman who came into the bookstore yesterday and asked me if I knew the results of Tuesday’s primary. When I mentioned that McCain had a substantial lead she said “You know, there’s something about McCain that just rubs me the wrong way…I’m a life-long Republican, but Hillary is starting to look pretty good.”
Sooooo…..Bush was good enough for her but McCain is not.
She must like Hillary’s pant suits.

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