On Elections, Lack of Voters, and Loss of Civility

A polling place sign via UNC.org

A polling place sign via UNC.org

So, here on CO I try not to get too serious or even political. On Election Day, I will veer from that a bit. This post is based on a reply to a joke gif a friend posted on FB. Its point :

  • November 4 is Election Day, if you’re voting for “Party A,”
  • November 5 is Election Day, if you’re voting for “Party B.”

Yes, it was a joke and, perhaps, I need to lighten up. But, the electoral system in our beloved U.S., voter apathy, and the “win at all costs because we’re right and you’re an idiot” mentally are making me fearful for our system of government and my children’s future here. So, I replied the following:

I generally vote Dem but that’s more of a vote against the GOP than a vote for the Dems. (There are GOP fiscal policies I could get behind if the GOP would stop telling people, like my best friend and one of my kids, who they can marry or what my daughters can do with their reproductive health and bodies.)
In any case, even if this “joke” were reversed, I would not find it funny. One of our most sacred rights as citizens is the right to vote and have free elections. Too many groups have had to fight for that right in the U.S. and experienced persecution and even death in the pursuit of it. I think it is important that every eligible voter go vote and vote their conscience. Even if the candidates I want to win do not win, I can live with it if I know that it is truly the will of the entire electorate because they all went out and cast informed votes. If someone wins from any party because votes for their opponent were not cast or not counted, then we have a flawed election in my book. And, the elected officials are not the ones their constituents truly wanted. Even a joke of “make sure our side votes but the enemy’s side does not” is not funny to me because it smacks of what’s fundamentally wrong with our system: “If you disagree with my agenda or views, you’re an enemy to be derided and defeated.” Neither side’s wingnuts will allow conversation or compromise with the other. It’s corrosive and destructive. We teach our kids to share and compromise. We teach our coworkers to accept differences and work together. Our politicians practice just the opposite.

Basically, if a party “wins’ because the other parties did not get their votes in to the polls, they only won a false “victory” and it leads their electorate down a path they did not want. That’s a flawed democracy. And it’s no joke.

So, I got a little cranky. But, I think about our media and politics and I think of media outlets who should be unbiased but are not. Fox News basically derides every single thing Democrats try to accomplish as evidence of how “liberals hate America.” MSNBC derides every Republican as also “hating all poor and working class.” Newspapers “endorse” a candidate, making me wonder how objective their reporting is. Reporting and candidate statements are full of half truths, hyperbole, and fear tactics. (I know none of that is new.) Very little of it is constructive debate. It spills over into social media. More outlandish half truths and negativity proliferate there. Very little actual factual information is “shared” all over Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc. And, gods of sanity help you if you post a reasoned political opinion online. You’ll be inundated with name calling and worse because, clearly, if you are a “bleeding heart liberal” or a “neo-fascits conservative,” your opinion is immediately invalid.

And, of course, the two major parties are as bad if not worse. There is no reasoned discourse. There is no compromise. The wingnuts in both parties sabotage the campaign and influence of any member of their party who traitorously actually tries to talk to the opposing party and reach a compromise. Go along with your extreme base or be ostracized!

So, the innocent joke set me off. It set me off because I want a government that works. A government that isn’t bought, that listens to its electorate, that looks out for the good of the whole nation, not just a few.

And I want an electorate that thinks, discusses, and reasons out its decisions on voting and policy. I do not want an electorate that votes based on hatred, unreasoned fears, media hyperbole, greed or, worse, an electorate that is too lazy to vote.

I feel like our democracy no longer functions. And as long as people are fat, dumb and happy, most do not care.

You know, my son voted in his 4th grade class. I asked him how he voted for governor. I asked him why he voted how he did and he replied, “because the other guy said mean things about him [the candidate he voted for] on TV commercials!” He was offended by the negativity. So am I, son. So am I.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.