Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Great Voting Debacle

Another year, another vote, another year of relief that the season is over.  I know I speak for many people when I say that between the advertisements and smear campaigns, November is almost a relief despite the advent of crappy weather in our part of the world-Oregon.
The most disappointing thing, obviously, is the lack of voters.  However, I can't say I blame people.  It took everything in me to vote, because I really didn't want too.  And I am not alone-millions of people out there feel like I do-what the hell am I voting for?  Jane Doe accuses her opponent of not supporting the elderly.  So Joe Nobody fires back with accusations that Jane is going to cut school funding.  Jane lobs a "he is against civil rights".  Joe fires back with "she is for the rich".  After weeks of slinging, Election Day arrives and I have no idea what these 2 candidates stand for.  How will they pay for social services?  What is their stance on raising the minumum wage?  Toll bridges?  Farm subsidies?  Water rights?  Distribution of lottery money?  Establishing a rainy day fund?  The Rose Festival?  Anything besides attacking their opponent? 
It used to be that we taught Ethics in school, but that is out due to lack of funding.  I am not talking about right and wrong-that is still taught despite what some people think.  I am talking about Ethics in relation to the Government-another class we don't hear much about either.  The big push is for Math and Science-as if nothing else is an indicator of how smart or well-adjusted we are.  Math and Science obviously have their place in  society-says the girl communicating via one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs ever-but there are other subjects out there equally important.  Knowing how your country is run, and where your taxes go is pretty far up my list of what should be taught in schools too.  Knowing how voting effects your life, and what your representatives actually do at the Local, State, and National level also seems important, but apparently not in relation to Math or Science.
I also think special interest groups are bogging us down.  Granted there are some causes I find more important than others-while I am paying close attention to school funding, I have to admit that my knowledge of crops imported overseas is pretty spotty.  However, some people are making one cause the whole point of their existence over the exclusion of everything else.  The election a few years back asked us to vote on whether we should cut spending to parks and wildlife, and give the money to schools.  I admit schools need funding, but at the risk of gutting our state treasures?  Of sacrificing clean water and a diverse bio-system?  Reading the Jewish Review, Jeff Merkley, current US Senator for Oregon, stated that often, when voting on an issue, one Senator will  delay the vote on passage of a bill and often times the bill is re-written, or never brought up again (I am NOT quoting Jeff Merkley directly).  What is the point of voting if you know your representatives can't get shit done?  That one special interest will make sure that nothing opposes THEIR interest?
My minor in college was Political Science.  While I am no expert, I took classes on International Relations, The UN, and Local Government.  The NUMBER ONE reason I vote isn't because I think I am being heard, or that I think my interests are being fairly represented.  While one vote can count (we covered that in class), I am pessimistic enough to think it isn't usually my vote.  I vote simply for those who can't.  Somewhere, right now, someone is willing to die so their country can experience a taste of democracy.  Right now, someone is probably dying just to have a voice in local politics.  Over 200 hundred years ago, a group of men, and women, gave up almost everything so their children wouldn't be British subjects, but have control from this side "of the pond".  Some of them sacrificied personal fortunes, some of them their lives.  To look all these people in the face-ancient or more recent-and say "sorry, I didn't vote because...who cares?" seems to be rude, and shitty.  I can't do it.  I just can't do it.  To all these people who are currently living under totalitarian regimes, dictators, and despots, I owe it to them to continue to vote so they have some small shred of hope that one day they can vote to. 
If you didn't vote this time, do it next time in honor of someone who wants to, but can't.