Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who's Wasting Their Vote?

This article was original published on July 21st, 2006 at

I’ve always enjoyed Matt Groenig’s work. I remember before "The Simpsons" were on TV he did a cartoon called “Life in Hell”. What I really like about Matt’s work is how he uses his characters to express his own viewpoints. Sometimes he is subtle, sometimes not.
I remember a particular episode of “The Simpsons” where Bob Dole and Bill Clinton were kidnapped by aliens. The aliens then replaced them and campaigned for president as if they were regular humans. When Homer exposed them as aliens one of them said something to the effect of:
“So what? We won the primaries. We’re your candidates. You have to vote for one of us.”
To which a gentleman in the crowd answered:
“I could vote for a third party candidate.”
Upon hearing that, the aliens laughed and one of them said:
“What? And waste your vote?”
It was funny and poignant at the same time.
It seems that most people today actually and seriously believe if they do not vote for a Republican or a Democrat that they are wasting their vote. Nearly everyone I talk to when confronted with reality will admit that they don’t like either candidate running and they’re voting for the “lesser of two evils.” I’ve personally never felt right voting for an evil of any kind. I have only once voted for a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate and that was Reagan in 1984. Even the first time I voted, in 1980, I voted for John Anderson, an independent candidate. I’ve been “wasting” my vote ever since.
A few years back I was at my in-laws’ having dinner. A family friend joined us. I don’t know how the subject came up, but she asked me who I had voted for in the last election. I told her Browne. She looked shocked. She asked me “Who?” I don’t think she realized there were other candidates to vote for.
“Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party candidate,” I told her.
“Shame on you,” she scolded me.
Shame on me? I’m proud that I haven’t voted for any of the corrupt officials that now operate our government. Shame on me? I don’t think so. I want to keep my freedoms, thank you very much. I’m proud of our constitution and I want to see its integrity upheld. As angry and upset as I was that I had been shamed by this woman who refused to study the reality of politics and what interests her representative really stood for, I didn’t say a word. She’d simply voted for the party she’d voted for all her life. She was so set in her ways and so brainwashed by years of apathy and propaganda that nothing I could have said would have changed her mind. Some people just aren’t worth arguing with.
I saw an interesting poll on one of the major news channels, I think it was MSNBC. I don’t remember the exact date, but I’m certain it was late May or early June of 2004 because of certain circumstances I was undergoing in my life. The poll (it was web based) asked those that responded whether they felt the federal government represented them. An amazing 99% of the respondents answered no. I wonder which 1% of the population feels the government represents them. Just as amazing to me is that an almost equally high percentage of people continue to vote for the same people, the same two parties, which they feel don't represent them.
My son took a class on politics in high school. He was taught the main differences in the philosophies of the Republicans and the Democrats, which wasn’t much. Being from an informed home, he asked his teacher about the Libertarian party. His teacher explained to him that because of where the money for the class came from, he couldn’t teach him about Libertarians (even though the teacher himself professed to being one). Huh? Imagine that. Could the Republicans and Democrats be that afraid of third parties that they will not allow our children to learn about them in a class on politics? Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Whatever happened to informed decision making? It’s no wonder I’ve had to work so hard to find candidates I can be proud of voting for. No one wants to allow any other party equal access to the hearts and minds of the people. I think the more educated we become, the more informed, the more likely we are to “waste” our votes. Unfortunately, it seems we’re becoming less educated and less informed as a society. I suppose we have the classes like the one my son took and the mass media unwilling to give equal time to third parties to blame for that.
Before the 2004 presidential election, my older brother and I got into a debate of sorts. Neither one of us liked Bush and he was trying to convince me to vote for Kerry. I explained to him that I didn’t like Kerry anymore than I liked Bush and I planned on voting for an independent candidate. My bother insisted that we needed to vote against Bush, that he needed to be kicked out of office. I told him that I would not compromise my values, my integrity, by voting for corrupt, corporate bought officials. I was going to vote FOR someone worthy of holding the office of President of the United States of America, not against someone who shouldn’t have been put there in the first place. A couple months after the election my brother told me he felt I was right and neither the Republicans or the Democrats have the best interests of the people at heart.
Most people I talk to about it don’t like what’s happened to our government. It’s not hard to see that our representatives are bought and paid for by corporations and special interests. They have no will to stand up to an executive branch usurping their power. Yet we don’t seem to have the will to hold our representatives accountable. Every two years we are asked to cast a vote for the representative of our district and every two years the usual suspects are put back into office. Every six years we get a chance to tell our senators what we think about their performance and again every six years the same people, the same parties, Republicans and Democrats, continue to be re-elected to a job they fail at miserably. Why do so many people continue to vote for someone who doesn’t represent them? Many seem afraid to “waste” their vote. Only the people of Vermont seem to have the intestinal fortitude to put someone in office who will actually represent them.
I don’t believe I’ve been wasting my votes for the last 26 years. On the contrary, I’ve been spending my votes wisely. I’ve been voting for change. I’ve been voting for accountability. I’ve been voting for transparency, for honesty, for adherence to our constitution, for a less intrusive government and for my personal God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who have voted for Republicans or Democrats have voted for the status quo. They’ve voted for corruption. They told the politicians it’s OK to screw us, that they’re not going to be held accountable. Democrats and Republicans are the same. They are all rich elitists that belong to the same exclusive club. They are one party with two faces and most people waste their votes by voting for them.
Perhaps it’s time we as a people band together, rise up, and yell “Enough is enough!” Perhaps it is finally time we the people exert our will and hold our representatives accountable. If we all stop wasting our votes on Republicans and Democrats and spend our votes wisely on third parties, on all levels of government, Federal, state and local, they’ll get the message. That is, of course, if they don't manage to steal those elections.

No comments: