Your Mind

I Don’t Vote.

By March 1, 2016 1

Grab the pitchforks and the torches, masses. It’s true, I said it.

I don’t vote.

But before you berate me, let me tell you why.

The first thing you’ll say is, “Then you’d better not complain!” which is fine. I don’t complain, really. I observe and I take in. I make comment. But I do not complain. I am extremely, exceedingly, apathetic.

Without a doubt, I love my country. I thank goodness every day that I live where I live, and that other places in the world seem literally planets, solar systems away.

Then again, there are days, like when we found out part of my father’s heftily-priced cancer treatment won’t be covered by insurance because it hasn’t been examined in more than 2 lab studies (which, quite frankly, figures, considering his cancer is rare and accounts for a mere 1% of all leukemia cases), when I wonder: could we do better than this? Or when my students are run through round after round of standardized testing, and yet still do not perform “smarter” than their peers around the world, I wonder: could we do better than this?

I don’t know. I am not nearly informed enough about healthcare, or politics, or government, or economics, or social policy to make any sort of actual informed opinion.

And that, my friends, is exactly why I don’t vote.

I voted when I was 18 so I could make sure that horrific pairing of McCain and Palin did not make it into the gosh darn White House. It worked. I was glad. I knew enough then to know that something wasn’t right about that pair. I could tell it would result in things I quite simply could not agree with or condone.

But ever since then, not a ballot cast. I’ll say it again: I don’t know anything. And yes, I could watch the news. I could tune in more. You’ll tell me to read the newspaper more often, to watch 60 Minutes, to listen to NPR.

Well guess what: you don’t know anything, either.

Every time a debate airs on TV, I wonder why in the world people even watch them. I truly do. Not one word of what the candidates say can hardly, ever, actually, come to light. There are a million road blocks and vetoes and balances in place to be sure that one person is not the only one driving the train, and that’s a good thing. Yes, there are acts some presidents will put into place that others will not. Did we know Obama would plan to bail out the big banks in an economic downturn when our country voted him in? No. Did we know he would coin Obamacare and change the face of health insurance in this country? There was an idea, for sure, but overall, no.

And further, are we all happy with both those decisions?

A resounding “…meh?…” is all I hear.

Candidates gather millions and billions of dollars to win your vote. Their job is so much larger than any debate could ever sum up or touch upon. Candidates can run on their own platform and have their own beliefs, but ultimately, they will say what the masses, or at least, what their masses, want to hear. They preach and coax and hope to change the world. They are branded with generalizations like “socialist,” “feminist,” “economist,” “Muslim.” And they raise a few more millions and work to change those brandings, or to make them truer for the other candidate instead. And once they get voted in, it is all so much more about their cabinet, about the House, about the bills and the lobbyists and the filibusters than it ever is about a single, solitary person.

I apologize right here and now for how ignorant and ungrateful I sound. I will freely admit it again: I don’t know anything. I don’t know that Bernie can lead our country to economic prosperity. I don’t know that Trump won’t turn the entire world against us, or that he won’t appoint his VP via some absurd revamped premier of “The Apprentice.” I don’t know that Hilary is sincere and has what it takes. I don’t know that Cruz would be able to unite the country.

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

Since I do not know, I cannot vote. I cannot bring myself to judge or misjudge. I would never make such a rash decision based on so many variables and uncertain truths. If I voted, it would be like a religious agnostic taking communion just because everyone else does; it wouldn’t make sense, it wouldn’t fit. I realize I am not taking full advantage of my rights as a U.S. citizen, but I also realize that if I were to place a ballot, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to defend my choice. “Oh, why that candidate? I mean, I like the name. It has a nice ring to it.” And isn’t that a greater crime to commit? I certainly think so.

I laud everyone who has a choice in their hearts and can run with it. I envy you because you are not as jaded and as disillusioned as me. Quite frankly, I don’t trust a damn one of ’em. I just can’t stand up and say, “He’s my guy, he’s got me!”

Because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure any of them have any of us.



  • Mockridge

    “I say this: most voters know nothing whatsoever about what they are voting on, and don’t even pretend to. I say if you encourage people to vote on political matters, you might as well also encourage them to vote on open-source data mining, brain surgery techniques, and the defusing of bombs. Of course, in Blétante it doesn’t matter so much who we elect—the job doesn’t require a great statesman, just someone willing to perform the task. But in the US, where who you elect really matters, you always elect half-wits, conceited poseurs, and buffoons; for you it’s become a matter of public relations as much as anything else.”
    So t rue, so t rue…
    “I’m not sure that’s true; you’re making some pretty broad assumptions, Giorgio.”
    “Look at the results. You elected an inexperienced guy simply because you wanted to prove to yourselves, and to the world, that you aren’t all racists. Then, when he proved himself to be completely incompetent or, perhaps—as some say—purposefully making efforts to destroy your country from within, you re-elected him anyway. Someday soon, I’m betting you’re gonna elect a woman, just to prove you’re not all misogynists. We know what comes after her of course but looking ahead, you know, further down the road, AFTER the homosexual has served two terms, will you have learned your lesson as a nation, or will you elect someone simply because they’re missing a limb?”
    “Giorgio…” I laughed, “you wouldn’t dare make those statements in the United States.”
    “Oh, I know, Mr. Mockridge; and that is the problem. Seriously, that’s your problem.”
    There was no way I could argue with that.
    “But, let’s forget all that, I know you’re eager to talk about breakfast,” he said. “My opinion is that a good breakfast is three eggs, a nice big thick slice of grilled ham, some grits with butter, wheat toast, a large glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and a good cup of Island coffee, correctly prepared.”
    “That sounds good to me, but I’d like to talk a little more about your views on voting …”
    “I know, I know,” he said, “So, now, today, we’re going to VOTE on breakfast in the American way! Here are your choices—choose ONE: corn flakes or a stale muffin.” He looked at me. “So, those are your choices, Mr., Mockridge, what’ll you have?”

    “These are not really ideal choices,” I said. “What happens if I want ham and eggs?”
    “This is not a perfect world, Mr. Mockridge. You’re not going to have your way all the time. But, you do have a choice. AND, if breakfast is important to you and you feel strongly enough about it, maybe you can slip back into the kitchen and try to persuade them that eggs, a slice of ham, some grits, toast, a glass of juice and some good Island coffee, is the way they should go. But, that’ll take a lot of time and a lot of work, and there is no guarantee that they’ll be persuaded to change. So, in the meantime, when that waitress waddles over and asks, ‘What’ll y’ have?’, if you say: ‘I’ll have ham and eggs, she’ll just tell you to choose from what’s on the menu. If you protest, she’ll say you should be glad you don’t live under some system where there is no choice.”