"Look not to the politicians; look to yourselves." ~ Richard Cobden
Every Vote Is Sacred
Even as a third grader, I knew something was rotten. Jimmy and Mike were running head-to-head as class president, and there seemed to be little coincidence that they were the most macho SOBs in the class. Both were slick, good-looking guys who exuded confidence and self-assurance.
Jimmy and Mike, while not the brightest pupils in the pod, were keenly aware that the class presidency was a farce. 'If elected, I promise longer recess times, and I'll get us sodas for lunch instead of milk every day.' The winning strategy involved promising more than the other candidate. Yet we all knew that the milk was going to continue flowing throughout the school year. And we all knew Sister Excoriatia was going to yank us by our ears off the playground if we lingered one second past the bell, campaign promise or no promise.
For the rest of us, even the cynical like myself, student elections still acted as wonderful diversions. Yeah, the popular, athletic kids were always the ones up there, but we gleefully went along with it. We'd argue over who was going to win; we'd help our favorite candidates by painting signs and handing out buttons. While not good friends with Mike, I figured life would be a little better without that bastard Jimmy lording over a victory. So I promoted the lesser of two evils.
Sure enough, memories of the election faded quickly. Within a week, Halloween was the only thing on our minds. The winning candidate reminded us of his prominent position with a few meaningful words every once in a while. But by the end of the year, none of us remembered any of the hoopla or excitement. Regardless of who won, Jimmy or Mike, the outcome was always the same every year.
One of my favorite movies of recent years is 'Election,' starring Matthew Broderick. It centers around the corrupt election for student president at Millard High School . Paul, a nice, well-meaning jock, sells the spirit of whomping the other guys: 'I promise we can all score a winning touchdown together.' Tracy , the angry, driven, scheming pretty face, just wants to show that she cares: 'I care about Millard, and I care about each and every one of you, and together we can all make a difference.'
Sound familiar? You could recast these roles using our current debate heroes.
The thorn in the 'Election' is Tammy. Frustrated by the whole ordeal, and by life in general, Tammy acts as the spoiler. Her speech challenges the status quo:
'We all know it doesn't matter who gets elected president of Millard. You think it's going to change anything around here, make one single person happier or smarter or nicer? . . . The same pathetic charade happens every year, and everyone makes the same pathetic promises just so they can put it on their transcripts to get into college . . . . The only promise I make is that if elected, I will immediately dismantle the student government, so that none of us will ever have to sit through one of these stupid assemblies again!'
Tammy ends her speech with an outrageous proposal: 'Who cares? Don't vote at all.'
Naturally, Tammy gets the biggest cheers. The administration is red-faced and livid. 'That little bitch made a fool of us and I want her out of the election.' They take immediate action by suspending Tammy.
There are so many parallels to current reality, I'm not sure where to begin. I could talk about how the major party candidates wield their power to prevent the contenders (the socialist Nader and the libertarian Badnarik) from being heard. I could discuss the meaninglessness of any campaign promise. I could talk about the hypocrisy of people like Tammy running under a banner of less government, knowing full well that they will succumb to abuses of power once they obtain it. I could talk about how public schools brainwash us into happily accepting our fate of living under someone else's thumb.
I'll just keep this simple.
Both Jimmy and Mike knew that they could make my life hell on a whim. They were proud of this fact. To the victor went the spoils, and victory was a matter of physical prowess. John Kerry and George W. Bush are brutal school boys, both of who would just as soon crush us, given the chance. About the only thing that differs is that Jimmy and Mike would make sure they did so in secret, in the stairwell, while Kerry and Bush oppress openly with the sanction of law.
In 2004, we are stuck with two bullies vying for president, two overgrown children. They may as well be Jimmy and Mike. Bush has waged an unnecessary war against Iraqis and against his own citizens (for example, the drug war and the Patriot Act). Kerry would continue to wage war, with the only distinction that he would find other corrupt bullies (the UN) to join with him. Kerry would also continue the war against his own citizens by stealing more money from those who strive to succeed.
Tammy got it right. Her speech began with her soliciting votes to dismantle the firmly entrenched nonsense that was student government. But it only took her a short pause to understand how silly it was for someone to vote for anarchy. That left her with the only possible conclusion'voting is a waste of time.
Too bad we don't have the balls to believe. The hysteria this year is at such a high level that a record number of you will go to the polls. You will firmly believe that your vote will make a difference. 'I'm voting for the lesser of two evils,' many of you will conclude. 'If Bush/Kerry wins, my life is over as I know it.'
The truly deluded will think that their candidate is somehow a better man: 'he speaks so eloquently,' or 'he cares about me.' Or that the opposing candidate is somehow evil while theirs is not: 'he's worse than Hitler,' or 'he wants to kill our children.'
The 'intelligent' voter will cast a vote for a new way of thinking: 'Badnarik will dismantle all this if he gets into office,' or 'Nader will end corporate evil everywhere.' Even if either of these two were to be elected and the vote thus not 'wasted,' and even if the winner didn't get corrupted by the system, little would change. You would still be beholden to their whims.
Every vote for the president is wasted. The system is corrupt. Stay home and exercise your freedom as a human being to not vote for he who will oppress you. Nothing will ever improve until you wake up. Your life is not owned by those who lay claim to it.
I leave you with a couple verses from a song to remind you of how ludicrous the whole idea of voting is. Any time you feel like you need to show up at the polls, sing this little ditty and remember what they want you to think:
Every vote is sacred,
Every vote is great, If a vote is wasted, God gets quite irate. Let the pagans spill theirs, O'er mountain, hill and plain. God shall strike them down for
Each vote that's spilt in vain.
(with apologies to Michael Palin and Terry Jones).