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1/17/12

On Not Voting

I've always been a big proponent of voting.It's always been "Look, some people died for this, the least we can do is roll out of bed once in a while and have an opinion about things." But, the way things are now, I don't see myself voting in the next presidential election. There is a complete lack of viable candidates from the right (Mitt Romney is a weak liar, Newt Gingrich is an offensive human being, Ron Paul may be certifiably insane, Rick Santorum is a hate-spewing closet case...) and I'm so disappointed in Barack Obama that it's hard to see straight. Remember all that "Change" and "Yes we can!" rhetoric? Turns out that's all it ever was. It's occurred to me sometime ago, that political change is a fantasy. Socially, we change and politics (eventually,and often begrudgingly) have no choice but to reflect popular opinion. For all Obama has done that seems like change, it has been below the minimum of us progressing as a society. The bulk of what he's done is assist Wall St and willingly kowtow to whoever yells the loudest. He's shown himself as weak-willed and easily corrupted (at best) and coniving at worst. And while repealing DOMA is awesome, allowing NDAA is unforgivable.

I recently spoke with a friend about the current economic climate and the erosion of the middle-class. How, in a Hoover-style approach, those of us who have already been struggling are expected to tighten our belts and suffer a little longer, lest the rich elite start to sense what being only moderately wealthy feels like. How those at the top see poor people with cellphones and use it as a sign to keep pushing, horrified that poor people have the nerve to possess anything at all. "How can they do that to people?" he said (I paraphrase) "How can they be OK with watching their own people suffer, wanting more while it recreates a pre-industrial wealth/poverty gap, with nothing in-between? Meanwhile, the middle- and lower-class allow themselves to be convinced that there's some fictitious welfare mother trying to take their hard earned money and actually elect the people who literally want to take their money?"

The simplistic answer, as it usually is, is fear.

Further into the conversation, a similar question arose in regards to Penn States protecting a child rapist. How the outrage amongst football fans wasn't about the abuse charges, or the cover up, but the firing of Sandusky - their legendary coach. Or how the exact same thing happens within religious institutions (most famously, but not only, in the Catholic church) all the damn time. Why do the higher-ups allow the suffering of their followers? And why do the followers (seem to) approve of or support the abuse?

For an authoritarian system to work, you need two kinds of people: You need the leader, or governing class who are either deluded enough to believe their own hype or, more often, are fully aware they have no right to rule but still want control anyway. And you need the subordinates, who have to believe in and rely upon the authority of rulers.

Be it a government or a religious institution (football being somewhere in-between), the arrangement is always the same. The heads are in charge and have always been in charge. They wouldn't know what to do if they weren't the richest and most powerful. Any feeling of the loss of power (or even worse, a feeling of equality) causes them to lash out at whoever they can blame. This is why religious conservatives get louder as the gay civil rights movement gets closer to a feeling of real citizenry. They don't really fear that marriage or the family will be tarnished. They just like their privlege. They are used to having it all and how dare you want some for yourself. They are deathly afraid of losing what they've always known. They have no idea what it feels like to be oppressed, but they heard from all those protestors that it really sucks!

Likewise, the followers are afraid of losing what they'be always known. Like an ex-convict emerging from a long prison stint, too much sudden freedom can be terrifying. Many find comfort in being told what to do, or, at the very least, believing that all the "big picture stuff" is being handled, allowing them to be reasonably content and self-concerned. They want to protect the governing class and the rich elite, because they've been trained to think that they'll be cared for in kind.

But just like Dorothy, many of us have looked behind the curtain of leaders and religion and heroes to find frailty and flaw. Or sometimes nothing at all. And it leaves us lost. Atheists and anarchists aren't any smarter or better off, because no one has any real answers. When I first paid attention to the OWS movement, I was critical of its lack of focus or any singular solution. But how can we ask a group of people who are essentially a collective scream of frustration to do any better than our president?

I don't plan on voting because I've lost the faith. Politics don't change. People can. So I am trying to put what's left of my faith back in people.

Fingers crossed.
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1YgpX7mbE
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ

1 comment:

  1. I lost faith a very long time ago. Here's one of my favorite George Carlin quotes:

    "I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don't vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote -- who did not even leave the house on Election Day -- am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created."

    From the age of 18 until about the time I turned 28, I truly believed in the power of my vote to change the world. However, I started really examining the policies of our presidents and legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, and I started to see a pattern of upholding the status quo. My moment of enlightenment was the same day I was christened a cynic.

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