Voting – It’s not what it’s cracked up to be

Here we are approaching yet another election, and the conventional wisdom is that it is very important to vote.

Well, sort of…

I’m sure many of you would agree that our political system leaves a lot to be desired. It’s full of greed and corruption. The candidate who raises and spends the most money usually wins. Only two political parties get any attention. Our choice is between far right and a moderate. Those of us who are more progressive don’t really get what we want. I would think that there are surely higher quality people to hold office than the choices we get.

So sure, there’s some difference between far right and the middle, which are the two poles we have. But when all the attention is on that limited range of political thought, the difference is not nearly as much as it seems inside that tunnel. There are worlds of ideas out there, outside of what we’re allowed to hear about and vote for, that do not even get into the mainstream public discourse.

At this point I ask this question: if everyone goes to the grocery store and screams loudly about how awful the selections are, yet you continue to buy them, what do you think the grocery store will continue to do? They will continue to offer you the fare that you don’t want. As long as you keep buying it, that’s what will be there for sale.

This is what is going on in the electoral arena. We scream bloody mercy about how awful the system is, how low quality the people running for office and holding office are, etc. Yet if we continue merely to hold our noses and vote for the lesser of two evils year after year after year, nothing will ever change no matter how much we scream. The tide will swing from the far right to watered down middle and back and forth ad infinitum.

One of my favorite expressions is this: if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten. How will this ever change?

In my own city (Lexington, KY), we have nonpartisan city council races. Since it’s local, there is also less money involved. This brings about the situation in which there are people who are actually high quality human beings with good progressive values, people truly worth voting for. Contrast that with our US Senate campaign (Grimes and McConnell), and the noted difference is enormous.

When you go into the voting booth this November and you vote for Republicrats (one or the other) while hoping against hope that the one you hate more will lose, ask yourself the question:

How will this ever change?


6 responses

  1. . Is an article I wrote in Mar 2004 re the Presidential Primary Election in OH. I was a poll worker up close and personal to witness our undemocratic system. We selected a D candidate that year with about 7% of the vote. True all over the country and before and since that election.

  2. Thanks Rich. Very interesting.

  3. I agree with you in principle but I can’t ignore the importance of at least stemming the tide in the mean time – with more moderate D’s, I’s & R’s against anti-women extremist legislators and Supreme Court members/nominees. Women can’t afford not to vote for the lesser of the two evils. Even the worst grocery store has some items that are better than others and I believe most grocers WOULD attempt some measures if they truly had all of their customers screaming at them constantly because humans are wired to respond to face to face. This means not just holding your nose and voting but cultivating a relationship with politicians that aren’t perfect. If everyone could name all of their local, state and federal representatives and kept in touch with them we could achieve so much. If everyone eligible voted in every election they qualify for, this country would be way more progressive with its policies and actions- and all the politicians, lobbyists and big campaign donors know it. That’s why they work so hard to keep folks from voting. As frustrating as the status quo is, we can’t feed that beast.

  4. Danita, I wish I shared your optimism that very high levels of voting would make our country way more progressive. We could have 100% voter turnout in Ky for the U.S. Senate race and we will not have a progressive result. The SYSTEM is rotten and higher participation in a rotten system isn’t going to bring about any real fundamental change. Sometimes a few crumbs, but that’s about it.

  5. If we had 100% voter turnout in Ky we might not have a progressive result but we also would not have such right wing extremist representation e.g. our US Senators. Averaging the spectrum in Ky- in my opinion – Kentuckians in general are moderate and therefore are entitled to moderate representation statewide and more left or more right leaning in individual legislative districts and local races as those resident citizens prefer. But this is all idle chat – we need to get big money out of campaigns, revoke corporate personhood, stop adding barriers to voting and to 3rd party participation and also include instant run-off voting.

  6. I agree totally with everything you said after “this is all idle chat”. Those things you mention are precisely the missing things we need and why voting now such an abysmal proposition.

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