Super Tuesday? Whatever You Say
The following is an opinion. If you don’t like it, or if you’re easily offended just stop reading. Remember the Golden Rule: Stop bitching.
Note: The above may not be the Golden Rule; frankly, I’m a little fuzzy on rules.
We take our democracy for granted around here a lot of the time. We’re not a nation that enjoys the process, possibly because it routinely comes back to bite us in the ass.
Take me, for instance. On this Super Tuesday, I did not vote. I’ve yet to register in Davidson County and I simply did not take the time to do so. When pressed about this, my response was, “So what? This election thingy doesn’t count for anything anyway. Chances are, whoever I would vote for will be vacationing in Switzerland come November anyway. I am a voice in the wilderness; will no one hear my pleas?”
So I didn’t really say that last bit. In fact, I didn’t even think it until just this moment. But my point is the political process in this country could clearly use a facelift. So could a lot of the participants, come to think of it.
I feel like people don’t vote in this country for two reasons: it’s inconvenient and nobody feels qualified because nobody pays attention to politics unless it’s an election year. I include myself; after the first week in November, you probably won’t hear me say anything about a politician for three years unless Ron Paul is caught tossing babies off the Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s really a shame how much we take our broken political process for granted in America. You know all those backwards, goat-breeding Third World Nations we like to poke fun of and send dried food and Sally Strothers to as a show of compassion? The people in those countries stage riots and revolutions. They oust leaders that aren’t doing the job of leading the citizens. They get shit done. Check out what’s happening in Russia right now (I know Russia isn’t exactly a democratic hotbed; just humor me).
After those last few sentences, I feel compelled to mention here that I’m not advocating overthrowing the government. I like our government; just because my candidate doesn’t always win doesn’t mean I feel disenfranchised. I knew it was a democracy when I agreed to participate (or not, in this instance). I just think we could do it better, and I don’t think I’m alone.
The inconvenience of voting is akin to a date with the DMV; you’re going to stand in line, you’re going to be bored and you’re going to hate the process at the end. Sadly, we can’t make voting a requirement like getting a drivers license, although that would be one way to either get people to the polls or get them off the roads.
I envision a future where voting for public office is like voting for American Idol. We’ll have a 1-800 number, Ryan Seacrest and candidates will get eliminated every week based on their performances during “theme nights” – one week, the economy; the next, affirmative action. Maybe we can even have Anderson Cooper, Jon Stewart and Sarah Palin (gotta have the sex appeal) tour the country searching for The Prez or America’s Got Politicians, which could eventually lead to a potato farmer from West Nowheresville, Kansas to win the Presidency.
Let’s be frank, it’s not like the career politicos are doing such a bang-up job that you didn’t briefly think, “That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.”
The other problem is our lack of knowledge. The average American doesn’t feel qualified to vote, and they shouldn’t; we don’t know the issues. When I talk to stupid people about politics – which happens more than I’d like to admit – most hone in on one issue and it becomes the only one that matters. Single-issue voters are the most dangerous – just smart enough to be really stupid.
I feel like there has to be an engaging way to make people care about politics, or at least care enough to form an opinion. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report do a fantastic job of getting people to pay attention in a joking, juvenile way. They’re as real as news satire shows can get, but it’s hard to tell whether or not that’s good for us as a people.
In college, I routinely told people that everything I knew about politics I learned from Jon Stewart; now, I see how crazy that can be. A nation can’t be run that way. It’s a nice (read: funny) thought when you’re 19. A lot of stuff looks different when you’re 24.
We as a voting and non-voting public play Russian Roulette with the country’s future every four years. For the past 20 years or so we’ve kind of screwed it up. Either we voted for a deviant (William J. Clinton), an idiot (George W. Bush) or a snake-oil salesman (Barack H. Obama), usually for a reason that’s as stupid as, “Gee, he seems like he’d be fun to have a cocktail with,” or “Boy, that other guy seems like a prick, let’s go for the fun guy.”
Newsflash: THAT’S NOT HOW YOU ELECT POLITICAL LEADERS.
I’m sure I’ll get my butt in gear by November, and I’m sure I’ll have formed some sort of opinion about a candidate and vote. I’m sure I’ll feel that my ideas are being represented in this person; in a sense, I’m labeling my persona by which button I push, although this did not happen in 2008 (I voted for Barack; John McCain gives me the creeps).
What I won’t be sure of is whether or not they’re qualified to lead the country. Most of us that cast a ballot won’t have that knowledge. I’ve had more confidence in poker hands than I’ve ever put in a political leader. But we may as well get used to it, because it’s not going to change anytime soon.