I may not be able to convince people to be brave, but at least I can die first
I am not a republican and I am not a democrat. I'm not an independent either. What I am is a person with a goddamned opinion, which may, and almost certainly will change. I am not a part of some election strategy, my vote does not 'count', and I do not need to vote just because I can.
We are about to elect another president, while it would be historical to elect a (half) black man to the office, it would not represent the end of civil injustice, it would not erase the need to embrace americans regardless of superficial appearance, it wouldn't convince violent idiots to do some soul searching and take up sooth yoga; or perhaps start juicing (fruit + blender, not steroids). If we elect the grizzled action hero instead, we will have roughly the same proposition. Why? Because there is no long term financial planning at stake, we are mired in chinese debt. There is no plan to abandon positions in foreign soil, we have committed diplomatically and militarily--and not just to Iraq, but to Israel, Europe, Japan, Korea, Philliphines, Africa, and South America. There is no sweeping reform of the medical economy which is going to end up bankrupting social security, there's not going to be a definitive step taken to solidify a moral code for the populace (be it a humanist or deist perspective), and every economic institution that cries to mommy will recieve help in the form of off-shore drilling, onshore drilling, farm subsidies, trade tariffs, a pass for illegal immigration, block grants of money, or bizarre unfair competition regulation. Lobbyists aren't going anywhere, and the cabinet appointees from party pools, and machinations of party officials are not going to disappear. If you want to help this country, you will vote for anyone but the 2 parties.
There is only one coherent skill required for presidency (as opposed to a variety of skills which may or not be of benefit to a person who is expected to sign off on the decisions of 100s of subordinates and experts hired to specialize as a full time job in some subset of government office), that is to look and sound good. A CEO is, by and large, a vestigial organ who's only job is to decide who to hire and fire. A business degree confers only the boy's club 'in' which allows you into the mystical oversightless role of management. 4 million dollars for success and 2 million for failure? My god, how do you live walking that motherfucking tightrope, you brave son of a bitch. I salute you.
With one finger.
The President fills that same role. He may be a great leader, but doesn't necessarily have to be to successfully dispose the role. Realistically, the last 2 presidents have not been all we desired in a leader on that score. On the one hand, because of an inability to avoid or minimize scandal, and on the other, because of a folksy affectation which, genuine, or not, came across simply as uneducated or stupid. However, the competing option, Bush's FATHER, and Gore were no better in terms of being professional and likeable, if they were, they would have been elected. In the time since, no amount of Nobel prizes for dubious contributions (lucratively dubious--nothing like paying yourself for carbon credits) or good will missions to the 3rd world can make me, you, or anyone sane truly give a shit. I'm glad these are good citizens (allegedly), it's got nothing to do with running the country and managing the increasingly burdensome stack of problems we're accruing. Pay the bill on time, or get charged a late fee--how hard can it be?
The fact of the matter is that little we've done in the last 50 years depended on party. Vietnam spanned republican and democratic presidencies. There is no way for our military to withdraw once it gets invested in some enterprise, and by that I mean, the middle east in general, and not just our latest chapter. For one thing, the military continually plays both ends against the middle in their own political structure; they must maintain respect and enthusiasm of underlings, vie for comparitively few upper echelon jobs, and cover their ass with whatever president is in charge. This results in a serialized set of responses to the proposition of war. Can we achieve this? "Yes sir, whatever you want!" Can we do it on time and intelligently, and then withdraw "Absolutely not, bad idea. This is going to be hard and take a long time." Alright, what if I promise you this much support, what can you achieve? "I can't tell you that until we're there." Well, we're there, we've thrown the money and people into it, when can we leave? "We need more time." Will you at least testify that this was successful? "Sure! For another star...".
It's not worth getting pissy at me either, it's inevitable that generalship is at least somewhat political, despite the cynical view (that officers are shitheads with a college education that are 1 step away from being on the school yearbook staff), we have an abundance of good and qualified officers, but there are comparitively few wars to fight, medals to win, and promotions to receive. Especially if they're doing their job right.
So a President can be a dove, and end up authorizing military adventure. A president can claim any number of things, and then get in office, hear from a dozen advisors, and watch it go up in smoke. The problem is that all those people, advisors, cabinet, appointees, party positions, and even tenured government are entrenched and come from the 2 party system that not only guarantees recycling of ideas (especially bad ones), but even encourages a kind of sameness and cooperation between the parties; after all, if the parties don't cooperate while one group is in power, then, when the worm turns, punitive behaviors can take over to punish dissension. We've seen it, for chrissakes. Utter inertia. And why? Because they're more afraid of each other and the pseudo governmental party structure than the voters.
Assuming you somehow overlook the sameness, there can be no weaker expression of your vote than to contribute to a fight between two parties fighting over the center. If 1% of the vote can represent a 'spoiler', then so could a rainy day, manic depression, or hay fever. Human beings have diverse views, the idea that roughly equal amounts of people subscribe to each party proves only that they are roughly similar. If rural america urbanized the republicans would consistently lose, and if urbania suffered some kind of cataclysm, democrats would lose. It is nothing more than the application of broad brush issues to populations who have a shared perspective born of their immediate social environment. It has nothing to do with elitists, education, or even legitimate differences in viewpoint. If you live in a rural area, impersonal authority is off putting. If you live in an urban area, personal confrontation is off putting. It's just about getting along day to day, and is a separate issue from morality or social ills. The parties represent population density demographics, not actual opinion or legitimate differences among people. Both parties are 'big tent' enough to encompass people who's beliefs are essentially anathema.
Even the people involved in the process being roughly equal numbers doesn't address the many, many people uninvolved. The canned response is that not voting is bullshit. Well, this is provably untrue, in the sense that the major parties are now focused on getting new voters by changing their platform and pitch. Not voting in this mindless 2 party corral is a vote: a vote of no confidence in the system. The fact that it has changed behavior, whether that behavior is ultimately meaningless or not, is a sign that only action, even if it's simply the willingness to admit that neither choice is worthy is what counts. No, glibly chuckling to yourself that 'action' is 'inaction' is not some kind of sign that you are a fucking genius. In the same way that intolerance of intolerance is not, itself intolerance, and that being reductionist about reductionism is not, itself reductive--just being clever.
Beyond even this, we have good game theory principles which are being ignored. A 2 party system is not stable. Neither is a 3 party system. To have a stable political system we should have at least 5 parties to represent valid points of view. This has to do with majorities not bludgeoning a minority. What we have now is basically unstable, because, while the 2 parties are more or less immortal, they do nothing to keep each other in check *before* mistakes happen. They fight tooth and nail to get in charge, and then execute similar decisions. When one side does something the other side doesn't like, the reaction is a fight--an obstructionist fight and campaign of defamation. The goal here is to avoid paralyzing fights, and one of the ways to do that is to establish a meaningful respect for the existence of other parties, people, and their participation in the government--even if that respect is merely the recognition that they have power and can cause damage.
We're doing the same thing politically that we're doing financially, and they're both bad goddamned decisions. When companies invest irresponsibly, and endorse the equivalent of spam mail from nigerian foreign ministers as triple A portfolio material, then we've all had a bad run, and have to take our medicine. If we don't suck it up and deal with the fallout of these bad decisions, then we're at the mercy of the same inevitable crises down the road. Either we let the scam artists shake out of the system (yes, possibly by letting otherwise good people default and face a shitty life) or we're going to eventually run out of money and be in *real* trouble. We're building alot of nuclear reactors. That's great, because those are worth some money, and we can look forward to giant pictographic letters being stencilled on the side that say something along the lines of 'The People's Sun Fountain - number 43'. If we apply the same shitty logic to the 2 parties, continually bailing them out of bad decisions and past irresponsibility in government (for instance, jerry-mandering, or fillibustering) with votes, we end up screwing ourselves, because we never suck it up, take the risk that the 'greater' of two evils gets elected (which may happen anyway, since the system is utterly out of control and out of our control, ambiguiated behind the party leadership and structure) and foster competition in the form of other parties--even parties which may seem strange to our american eyes (liberty?! What kind of madness is that? We need rules. Rules that help us sort our sock drawers--otherwise it's just a pile of clean laundry on the bed--utter chaos!).
The only rational decision is to vote for *anyone* but the big 2. For the good of the country. No, it will not turn around today, or tomorrow. If we do not make the effort and vote at every possible opportunity for the underdog, we will never see anything but dandylions and grass in our front yard. No clover. No ferns. You can't abuse your lawn just because you're afraid a thistle might take root. If you're using roundup on dandylions, then you're killing flowers (you idiot).
If you maintain that patch of ground with pure grass because you legitimately are a grass person, who wants to play softball or whatever in your yard, barefoot, then fine. Fertilize according to your conscience. But if you're doing it because that's what good yards look like, according to some indistinct ambiguous authority, you need to, in order, stop, and get a goddamned life. Wildflowers are prettier than grass, and you don't have to mow them as much.
The right to vote is intellectual property, and, like intellectual property, it is an utterly untenable position to treat it like some other kind of property. Mere use of the vote is not the same as owning that vote, or participating in democracy. The current system thrives on forcing you to pay for an album of values and positions when you only like a single (that you already can hear on the radio, and record, legally). If you don't buy an album, they want you to pay again for the same song in a different format. When you complete a collection, they want you to throw out your record player and switch to tapes, or CDs. Even when we intractably try demonstrate the value of digital distribution, these media conglomerates would still want you to pay for a song as though it were being put in a CD, shipped to stores, given shelf space, cost additional moneys for purposes of marketing in that space, and, on top of all of that, locking up the result in a way that attempts to force continued use of their service.
Forcing me to register my purchase with the company store is nothing but greedy antiquated thinking applied to a world which has proven to be diverse, and requires diversity to function competitively and competently. These random outlets are not my masters. They are not the gatekeepers of art in society, they are business degree stuffed shirts with their probuscises plunged deep into the arteries of actual artists, so that they can bloat and filter out any unsuitably large bills that make their way into the bank accounts of their victims. If art is worth consuming, there will be enough consumers to support that artist. That is fact. We've seen it countless times inside and outside of art. People will throw millions of dollars into a campaign to achieve nothing specific whatsoever, and only a tiny fraction of the populace has to contribute in order to perpetuate the lifestyle to which these vampire bats have become accustomed, hanging upside down from the rafters in the capital dome. There are 300 million people in this country, and it does not require every person to 'purchase' or buy in to get what we want. If a 1000 people listen to some heavy metal band, more power to them. We do not need bandwagons, and we do not need epic release parties for albums that 'everybody has'. Fuck listening to britney spears. We know that her fans want other shit, and we don't need her, and we don't need her albums.
Vote 3rd party. Attend local shows by bands you like.
If you like it, pay for it.
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