"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
Maybe, Maybe Not: Assorted Thoughts on the Upcoming Election
Believe it or not, I don't know if I'm going to vote this year. It's true. Election Day is November 2nd and I still have no idea what I'm going to do. You would think someone such as myself, who happens to write a column on politics, would have it all figured out by now. But if you thought that, you would be wrong. I'm an undecided voter in a battleground state; I'm everything the candidates like, except for the fact that I don't like the candidates. With the big day coming up strong now, I'm thinking I might stay home.
I tend to find this election annoying. For starters, I'm sick of all the media-types and celebrities trying to guilt me into going to the polls. Part of me wants to skip the election this year just to spite them. It's getting to be ridiculous already. Every time I turn on the TV, I'm bombarded with messages about how voting is my civic duty. Jason Alexander, Tony Hawk'all of them seem to be saying the same exact thing: It doesn't matter who I vote for, as long as I vote. I don't understand this. If it doesn't matter who I vote for, then why am I voting to begin with? What is this, a practice run for when it starts to count a few years down the road? Voting for the sake of voting seems like a pretty lousy reason to vote, if you ask me. If I'm going to vote, I'd at least like to vote for someone I believe in. Like Jesus.
I'm also sick and tired of brand name get-out-the-vote campaigns. MTV, for instance, tells me to 'Choose or Lose.' Well, what will I be losing, exactly? My marbles? My lunch money? Do I get to choose what I lose? It makes a difference, you know. A little clarity would go a long way towards helping me decide here. I could probably live without my marbles, but definitely not my lunch money. I'd also prefer not to lose my friends and family members in a military draft'FYI.
Then there's the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy. He goes by P. Diddy now. The 'P' stands for 'Pushy.' This guy goes around telling kids to 'Vote or Die.' That's right, 'Vote or Die.' Let me ask you something: Why the hell is he threatening us like that? What did we ever do to him? I don't know about you, but if I get to choose what I lose this year, I'm going to choose to lose his attitude.
Oh, and then there are the commercials. They're worse than ever. And not just the presidential commercials, either, but the ones for local races straight down the line. They're so full of crap. Why can't they just call each other 'unfit' and 'sleazy,' like back in the good old days? Why do they have to ruin it by ending each commercial with, 'I'm Such N. Such, and I approved this message,' as if it makes things dignified? I'm Jonathan David Morris, and I wish they'd knock it off with that already. Name-calling is probably the last honest political art form. Let it thrive.
And then there are the candidates. If there's a reason not to vote this year, the candidates are it. These guys are a joke. And not even a funny joke, but the kind of joke that bombs so badly that the guy who tells it has to pretend he already knew it wasn't funny before he said it out loud. Trust me. I'm an expert when it comes to these jokes. I've told a lot of them.
I don't see how I could justify voting for George Bush. The Second Gulf War was an awful mistake, and he refuses to fire anyone in his administration over it. That means we pretty much have to fire him. People are dying over there in Iraq right now. Lots of people. Daily. Car bombs are going off like clock radios. Americans are getting their heads severed. Stuff like this wasn't happening a year and a half ago, before we invaded. People are starting to talk about Saddam Hussein having been good for that country. Some of them even mean it. That's sick. This war needs to stop.
I don't see how I could justify voting for John Kerry, either. One of the key pieces of his campaign is the promise that he'll only raise taxes on the rich. To me, that's like saying, 'I'll only raise taxes on Jews and Negroes.' John Kerry needs to be soundly defeated. The 'Anybody But Bush' argument doesn't cut it anymore. If you really mean that, then write in 'Anybody But Bush.' Otherwise, it's a cop-out.
If there's someone worth voting for this year, it's probably the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik. I had a chance to speak with him a couple of weeks ago for an interview for 'The Aquarian" (on newsstands October 27, 2004). I asked him why, if he thought government was a problem, he was willing to be a part of it. He told me, 'If Americans do not wake up and take charge of the government that they are responsible for, then, ultimately, the government will become so tyrannical that the only way to correct it will be through violent revolution.' This makes sense to me. I've heard it said that voting is an act of violence'the idea being that it perpetuates an abusive government'but I would suppose breaking out the Jiffy Pop and watching our infrastructure crumble is an act of violence, too. Revolution sounds romantic until you realize you might lose your brother in it. Then all of you sudden you start to realize you're pro-change but anti-losing-your-family-in-an-unnecessary-war.
After meeting with Mr. Badnarik that night, a woman came up to my car and motioned for me to roll down the window. 'Can I share some news you won't find in any major newspaper?' she said.
'Sure,' I answered.
She handed me a packet of papers. 'It's news that can change your life. God bless us all.' And with that she disappeared into the darkness of a church graveyard parking lot.
According to the packet she gave me, on April 25, 2004, Pat Buchanan appeared on 1210 AM in Philadelphia. Only it wasn't Pat Buchanan, it said. It was 'an imposter, a person whose body was cloned to be like him.' It went on to discuss space invaders, the Third Reich, and World War IV, as well as the mysterious disappearances of the 'real' George Bush, Jay Leno, and David Letterman. Maybe I'm jaded, but this seems to sum up world affairs for me.
I suppose I could live with voting for Badnarik. Not because I met him, or because he can win, but because the fact that I met him means he can't win. I kind of like that in a president. Armored cars and secret services are for kings and emperors.
People tell me sometimes, 'If you don't vote, don't complain,' but it would seem to me the people who don't vote are precisely the ones who should be complaining; after all, they're the ones who never gave anyone permission to exploit them. But then again, I suppose Bart Simpson said it best when he said, 'You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.'
That's sort of how I feel right now.