I used to believe this phrase wholeheartedly.
I used to throw it at people, particularly in these past 4 years, when nearly everyone was in a tizzy spouting off accusations that “Bush did it! It’s HIS fault!” I would ask, “Who’d you vote for?” “Oh, I didn’t vote. My conscience wouldn’t let me vote for the lesser of two evils.”
I would give them so much shit – tell them that if they didn’t exercise their right and at least TRY to get their preferred candidate just one more vote (which I naively believed actually made a difference back then), then they were as much to blame for the election going sour as anyone else.
It’s easy to make such observations while ignorant.
I voted for what I felt was the “Lesser of Two Evils” last election. I voted for John Kerry. I wasn’t proud of it then, and I’m not proud of it now.
If I were to repeat that mindset this year, I don’t even know where I’d begin. We will have Hilary, Obama, Mitt, and John. I don’t think race or gender is a good enough reason to vote someone into office, and I also really, really, really, really (imagine me typing this 100 times more) can’t stomach the idea of what the Democrats stand for right now. Mitt…well, frankly, he scares me. A lot. And then there’s John, who’d be okay (think of the lowest form of the word) if he wasn’t such a pushover when it comes to immigration.
MY conscience won’t let me vote for any of these candidates.
That’s a very scary thought to me, that I might actually sit out this election willingly. I haven’t had time to change my address with the election commission yet, let alone the post office, and while I was planning to do all of this on Thursday evening, after my stint at the DMV (where, perhaps, I can kill two birds with one stone and check the little “change my address on my voter registration” box…but I don’t know if that’s an option on the gun permit application), I feel no particular sense of urgency.
Does my vote REALLY matter? I mean, honestly. Look at the system. Does it? The electoral college in my state never represents my views, and I live in a city/county where, if the word “welfare” is mentioned, someone will ask, “where does the line start?” My vote almost literally doesn’t count, anyway.
I have almost no hope left for this country. As I type that, I realize that THAT’S a major factor in the stress I’ve been feeling lately, aside from the lack of sleep, change in relationship status, opera, and school. There’s one factor that I don’t feel can be changed by simply re-arranging my schedule or taking frequent naps. I can’t become UNapathetic simply by taking my vitamins.
A good bit of my attitude is my location, geographically, as well as my current occupation (student at a predominantly liberal private college). Memphis is like this cesspool…of what, I can’t say. There are some good parts to Memphis, but overall, thinking too much about where I am makes me physically ill. I don’t like my city. I can’t even say I care for it, or that I’m at least marginally glad to be here.
At school, I’m literally surrounded in every class by people fresh out of high school…people who have all this HOPE about changing the world. These people want to do things like volunteer for community service feeding the homeless. They want to cuddle the cats and dogs at the Humane Society. They want to donate clothing to Goodwill, and buy things from the racks just to be able to donate some money to the cause. These are worthy intentions. The problem I have with them is that these people also want to regulate these activities so that they don’t have to do all the work – the government, in their opinion, should do it for them.
I don’t think it’s laziness – I think it’s a factor of having grown up affluent (I’m a minority at my school, in age and socioeconomic status – compared to a lot of the people who attend, I’m old and dirt-poor), or having grown up in a church where your decisions were almost literally made for you, all the time (Catholicism). There are exceptions, of course. But for the most part, this is what I listen to during Q&A sessions in classes.
Like Luke Wilson in Idiocracy, I feel as though I’m listening to thousands of people chanting the words, “It’s got electrolytes! It’s what plants CRAVE!”, except the phrasing is more along the lines of, “It’s about TIME we had a female/black President!” People are completely missing the point of the elections.
It’s not to elect someone from a “disenfranchised” portion of the population. It’s not to break some old, white-guy record. It’s not to throw a middle finger in the general direction of a past President.
It’s about being proud enough of your beliefs to (theoretically) stand up for them at the polling machine, as well as in your life. It’s about finding a person whom you honestly believe will do the things that you feel would be good for the nation AS A WHOLE, not just for one portion of the population, particularly a portion that, let’s face it, kind of loves being disenfranchised because of all the free stuff.
I just wish I could make myself care.
But when you send out a message to over a hundred people telling them that you’ll take them to the range one time for free, get responses from 5 people, ultimately only end up making an appointment with one person, then realize that this? Is a perfect metaphor for any type of change or education in this country on the level of the general population…
…well, my give-a-shit-ometer seems to be broken.