So, in the spirit of election season, I am writing to share my thoughts about the voting process: I think it is discouraging and too confusing. Politics and the illusion of a participatory democracy is, in fact, the plaything of the privileged and educated. I will refrain from embarking on voluminous diatribe, and, instead, present to you a nice list of bullets (symbolism to your interpretation; UPDATE: For some reason my stylesheet removes the bullet points, so you all you see are ugly and unseparated pargraphs, so I’ve taken the liberty of turning them into NUMBER points).
- When people make a deal about voting as our civic duty, I think they are quite mistaken. I suppose that a democracy requires its constituents to vote. If they did not, how would a democracy function, continue to exist as a democracy? More accurately, I believe that the act of voting is a civic burden. If you vote for someone, you are effectively exhibiting a hope and your support of the candidate. Can it mean anything otherwise?
- The corollary to the first bullet point is that we should not vote if we are not ready to fully place our hope in or support our candidate. A vote means that you are prepared to take responsibility for the person you placed in office. It would also follow that, should the candidate fail to represent your interests whilst in office, you reserve the right to recall the candidate.
- It is my suspicion that no majority of the population is ready to carry the burden of voting. They are simply uneducated on political matters, indifferent, or preoccupied with more pressing matters of life.
- The process of educating one’s self on the candidates (no less, the political system and issues themselves) is a nightmare to the masses, but a playground of philippics for the privileged. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the partisan nature of American democracy. Campaigning is one of the stupidest things I’ve learned to-date and also one of the cruelest and inhumane; please remind me when it became an effective and acceptable strategy to vilify your opponent. It is with great reservation that I vote for candidates that defame another human being.
- This will speak to my illiteracy of American politics, but I believe there needs to be an online and central hub for any election. Present the candidates and their proposals for political issues and their plans for policy. I want to be able to read, in friendly and accessible language, what each candidate wants to do. Strip them of their rhetorical prowess and mazes. I want to know what I’m voting for.
- I don’t mean to espouse any hint of classism or elitism, but if I, an educated 22 year old male in university, am discouraged and unable to comprehend the political process, then I wonder what uneducated persons do. Do they vote blindly and only by certain issues? Is that what we want in a democracy?
- Voting, the act itself, needs to be easier. It is intimidating to go wait in a line or to ask for help at a voting center. Is there any possibility that we can just show some sort of identification and then vote? Or if we are registered anywhere, can’t we just vote where we are? Perhaps I’m just being lazy. After all, you do just vote once a year (and what is an inconvenience one day out of a year?). (Do we just vote once a year? This definitely showcases my political unastuteness.)
- If we cannot bring ourselves to vote for a candidate, then I would go so far as to say that we should not vote. To that end, you are not held responsible for the candidate elected into office, but you still preserve the right to recall that elected official. I just think it would be beautiful if one day no one in America voted–it would exhibit, what I perceive to be, a growing discontent with politics. If no one voted, politicians might wonder why. Might.
So those are my thoughts. I’m a discontented democratic American (in the political sense–not the partisan sense; I’ve no idea where I stand between the parties). But today, in the Wisconsin recall election, I voted. I took up my civic burden and voted–albeit quite uninformed due to the conjectures in the bullets (UPDATE: numbers) above. Bang bang.
Please share your thoughts. Please correct me. Please help me be a better American (insofar as politics and the voting process is concerned; I’ve other ideas about how to be a better American).
Note on the image: Originally I was just going to vignette and do some predictable Instagramming to the photo, but I was messing around on my phone and couldn’t help posterizing the photo. Interesting that posterizing photos now carries some sort of political connotation and weight. Also, I was attempting to go for a sort of “mug shot” with the “I Voted” sticker. I wanted to evoke the idea of a convict holding his jail card, but rather I, a free citizen, would stand in place of the criminal with an “I Voted” sticker instead of the jailer’s barcode. It’s a loose way of asking the very loose (and perhaps idiotic) question: Are we really free?