My vote in a national election has no effect, but it matters. How do I explain? It's like a grain of sand sticking to the bottom of my flip flop, ending up in the floor mat of my car, and eventually winding up in my garage in Colorado. The beach is no worse for the loss, but if there was no sand, there wouldn't be a beach. A grain of sand can't change the beachscape. Its disappearance won't be missed, but ... you see what I mean?
Mitt Romney announced that Paul Ryan was going to be his vice-presidential running mate. This news came to me via my mother-in-law who announced it over breakfast when visiting us. At a time in my life not so long ago I might have been embarrassed to admit such a thing, but that day I felt a bit of superiority to honestly say that I had no idea who he was.
I am not stupid. I'm disillusioned. I don't care about national politics with a passion. I've made a choice to be apathetic to general elections. Big time politicians are trained to tell me what I want to hear, so listening to them makes me feel like I'm talking to myself. That's a sign of insanity. I don't need any more of that.
There's plenty of proof that voting doesn't matter. It's presented to us daily during election cycles. With modern science and technology, expert pollsters can tell us practically by the minute who will win the popular vote for president of the United States with near certainty by sampling only 3,000 randomly selected people. Why not let them do it officially?
I know that sounds like leaving a lot of trust to technology and the people who apply it, but we already allow computers to count votes and election judges to oversee the process, why can't we rely on the same combination to do a really first class poll on the first Tuesday in November and call it good? It would save about 236 million voters a lot of trouble. It actually might make elections fairer, too. Ballot boxes that don't exist are difficult to stuff.
I have given up on the issues and instead vote for the person who I believe to be the kindest and most honest, which is more difficult than choosing based upon what candidates say they stand for.
It might sound to you like I am a slacker when it comes to politics, maybe even that I am intellectually lazy. I believe the opposite. Rather than what I perceive as wasting time trying to figure out which politician truly stands for what, if anything, I can relate to or getting involved to make a difference, which I honestly don't believe I can without risking becoming corrupt myself, I think I have a more positive influence on my family's life by working hard and reacting to whatever they decide to do in Washington.
I would say that I vote out of respect for the men and women who have fought in battles not of their making for my right to do so. I don't think we've fought many wars where my freedom was the central issue, but their presence on the face of the globe ensured it. Yet, I'd be kidding myself if I thought my vote influenced anything. If it did, we would fight many fewer wars, maybe none in my lifetime.
What matters is the process. When I go to the polls I am not voting to decide issues or put a person in office. I am supporting the checks and balance system that safeguard our country from tyranny.
What I'm really thankful for in our democracy are those offsets between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. I'm thankful for the theoretical autonomy of the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve Board. This ensures that change will be slow, which is a good thing when you consider the people trying to make it: basically a pack of gung-ho zealots with a lot more than two hands in their back pockets. I trust people with only two hands there, as long as the thumbs hanging out are theirs.
The kicker here is that I'm not trying to make a statement about the state of things. I don't think my apathy has grown out of the apparent increase of pure partisan big-time politics, the anger across the aisles in Congress, the polarization of the presidency, or anything else like that. I've never been very interested in presidents or their elections, and I think a lot of educated and intelligent people like me have felt that way since the day the Constitution was signed. Thank God we are bound by that.
Roger Marolt thinks it is truly incredible how our political process was ingeniously designed to remain respectable even while most of the players in it are not. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.