Sunday, October 10, 2004

The case for not voting

Finally. I've been wanting to post this for months. There's a lot of points I want to hit, hopefully I am able to do it in a way that doesn't jump around too much and flows coherently.

If you want to comment, feel free to take as much space as you need. Lord knows I am going to.

I have never voted in a political election. I can safely say that I never will. This information is generally met with shock, disdain, and criticism (if I'm lucky). I will atttempt to explain why I choose not to participate in the voting process.

When I was younger I felt that I should stay out of the election because I did not know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. That is no longer my main reason for refusing to cast a ballot. It is, however, still a valid reason for anyone out there thinking about not voting to not vote. Why make a decision such as who to vote for if you feel you don't posess enough information?

I'm doing this wrong. I know I am. But onward I push. Let's see, I've consult my notes and see if I can start somewhere else...

The message to vote is everywhere. 7-11, WB Commercials, MTV, McDonalds, even Nickelodeon. (That all important under 18 vote is vital. More on that in a minute) When something is as ubiquitous (and largely unquestioned) as this, it makes me worried. WHY is voting so important? The question should not be "Why don't you vote, P@?" but instead, "Why should people vote at all?" Frankly, I'm of the opinion that if something is really important, it doesn't need to be pounded into us constantly. When there are billboards telling everyone to Vote Early, when the news (television, newspaper, internet, radio) talks about voting EVERY DAY, when you can't go into any public building without being harrased to register to vote...that sends warning flags to me. If voting were so damn important, so necessary to one's well-being, people wouldn't need to be reminded daily, hourly. It would be second nature. Do you need a billboard saying to love your family? Do you need the news to remind you each night to be thankful for your friends? Where is the person outside the library hounding folks to remind them to eat?

So the message is out there - VOTE, it's important. But as with so many aspects of out culture, the "WHY?" is never given. Nobody questions. "Oh, the experts say, 'We must vote' and the experts are never wrong. So we must vote." Or, same sentence, but replace "experts" with "tradition".

I think that perhaps, if anyone were to question why voting is so important, they might answer that "voting makes one's voice heard". Mm-hmm. See also: Everyone that hates George W. Bush. See also: Everyone that hates Bill Clinton. See also: Everyone that hates George Bush the First. And so on. Any time there is an election, it means that someone's voice (as much as 49% - or more, due to the electoral college) is "not" being heard - EVEN IF THEY VOTED.

Semi-related is the often touted "guilt-inducer" that voters will use: "You can't complain if you don't vote."

ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!

Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!!!!!!!

A) It is written nowhere that if you do not vote you have no voice. Not in the Constitution, not in any of the laws, nowhere. And if it were, that would make me sick. I can't complain - I can't voice my opinion, I can't say how much I dislike (or like - interesting that people never say, "You can't be happy with the situation, because you didn't vote.") something - because I didn't cast a ballot? Where is the logic in that? Your voice is something that you OWN. Voting has nothing to do with it. They're mutually exclusive. If I don't like the president (and I don't) I am going to say so, regardless of whether I punched a computer screen saying so or not. And anyone that tells me I can't ...

That phrase just boils my blood. You can't complain because you didn't vote. Bah! Does that mean that women (pre-1926) couldn't complain? Slaves? Does that mean that children can't complain about their conditions? Does that mean that ex-criminals can't? Or the homeless? What about animals? Birds can't complain about the air quality, because they can't vote. Lakes? Trees?
That's the other thing - voting doesn't count their voices.
Because someone was convicted of a crime, does that mean that they should not have a say in how their lives are run?
Because someone is under the age of 18, they don't have rights? Their input is somehow less valid?
Because someone is not human, this means that we should not take into consideration their importance?

Voters say "Yeah, that's right."

Voting reinforces the belief that there is One Right Way to live.

That alone is enough to make me never want to vote. Would you want someone choosing your religion for you? Would you want someone choosing what your meals were? Would you want someone to choose what you wore? Or who your friends are?
If not, then why are you voting? Why would you want to dictate to people you've never met, say, in Bismark, North Dakota, what way they should live their lives? And for presidential elections it's worse, because the president of the united states has WORLD impact. So by electing John Bush or George Kerry or ANYONE, you are having an impact (perhaps slight) on the way in which people in South Africa are living. That's mindboggling. And not in a good way.

Quick question - would you vote for a candidate who disagrees with your position on abortion? What about the death penalty? Or health care?
Two points with this - 1) You're never going to find a candidate who agrees with you on every "issue". 2) What do you do if you don't believe in the "issues" at all?
And this ties back in to the reinforcement of the belief that there is One Right Way to live. You casting a vote for Candidate X is, in essence, saying, "I believe that this person knows the best way for EVERYONE to live. His opinions are mine (or close enough) and our opinions should be those of everybody." Leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.

Kurt Vonnegut said, "Only psychopaths want to be president." What does that say about the people who believe we need one?

There are (depending on where you look for the details) between 50 million and 100 million people who are eligible to vote, that do not. And that's in the US alone. And that's only counting the "eligible" voters. Shouldn't the fact that so many votes are not cast count for something? I'm of the firm belief that NOT voting IS a vote. Dictionary.com agrees with me.
Vote is defined as
"To express one's preference for a candidate or for a proposed resolution of an issue; cast a vote: voting against the measure.
To express a choice or an opinion."
My not voting is simply stating that I prefer to have NO candidate, thank you very much. Also - "a proposed resolution of an issue" made me chuckle. When has an "issue" ever been "resolved"?

People think that voting is important because they have been misled into thinking that it gives them some power. It does not. It allows them the illusion of power, the illusion of choice. And even then, the power that it is supposedly giving them is power over OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES. God.

I was going to tell an amusing story about a town that was trying to decide what the City Drink should be - Pepsi or Coke, and how one guy only wanted water...but it's too long to tell here, and I've rambled enough. Plus, I've told the points of the story already. Maybe some other day. But just remember that Coke and Pepsi are really good allegories for the political parties. Nader would probably be Diet Coke, or something like that.

See, I want Bush out of the White House as much as the next guy. The difference being, I DON'T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO MOVE IN. Replacing Coke with Pepsi means you'd still have a soda as the drink. And your body needs water.

All of this vote-bashing still hasn't even touched on the problems with the voting system itself. The news has done a pretty good covering of those basis - Chads, the electoral college, electronic voting machines. So even if you do choose to vote, the likelihood of your voice being heard is crippled.

Maybe, though, I'm wrong. Maybe I should just go ahead, and despite my preferences to have no president, go and vote. Go and reinforce that stupid belief that there is One Right Way to live. I mean, the more people vote, the better, right?

Imagine an election that had 100% turnout. (100% elegible turnout, remember, we don't want to hear the voices of anyone that may have committed a "crime" or doesn't own a house) 100% turnout is the ideal goal of democracy, right? So...if everyone who could vote did, what would that solve? How on earth would that make anything better?
Now imagine an election where nobody showed up. Where Bush and Kerry and Nader and Cobb and all the other psychopaths didn't have any support. Where nobody agreed with them. Where nobody said, "This guy knows the best way to live."

The person who knows how best to run your life is YOU. Not some rich white guy that you've never met. Hell, not some internet weirdo who only a handful of you have ever met, either. Voting (or not) is up to you. I've made my decision.

27 comments:

Simon said...

I certainly agree that voting is given far too much importance. In many ways, I'd like there to be an option that says "None of the above". Of course, fewer people would then vote...

An argument I have heard used is that it is a privilege that some people in other countries don't have. I'd like to get your thoughts on that.

Annika said...

This is going to be the (very) short version. I vote because I don't feel that not voting will change the system. And if the system is in place, someone is going to be in the White House, so I'd like to officially express my opinion as to who it ought to be.

Jess said...

The point is, you have to live with the president whether you vote or not. If you feel as strongly as you do, why don't you go along and vote 'none of the above'? Can you imagine if a good proportion of eligible voters did that instead of not showing up? It would at least create a stir and some discussion, rather than the smug, patronising complacency you get instead about 'disaffected youth'.

I know you don't believe that the president has any influence over your life, but in that I believe you are dead wrong. There are shades of bad and worse, right? I could go on for a while listing ways in which the sitting president could have a direct effect on you with his choices, hypothetical and real.

Amanda said...

I think I would feel the same way you do if there weren't the Libertarian Party. Some of them are kooks, but the basic principle that the government should have waaaay less power appeals to me. Actually, Libertarianism in a nutshell is what you said, "The person who knows how best to run your life is YOU." So I vote Libertarian. I think you have valid reasons for not voting, and I think a part of a democratic system is the right *not* to vote. To not excercise a right that was so hard-won is saying something powerful. If that's what you want to say, then you have the right to do so. I like your scenario where NO ONE showed up to vote. That would be...amazing.

Anonymous said...

This may be less than the most polite comment I've ever left...

How does voting translate to "there is only one right way to live"? That makes absolutely no sense. Given the diversity of lives in this country...I have no idea what that even means. You ask "why is voting so important?" Are you seriously suggesting you've seen no information that addresses that question? Do you accept that Gore would have been unlikely to invade Iraq? B/c right there, that accounts for thousands of people who are currently dead who would most likely still be among the living. Do you think environmental problems are a myth, or hype? Do you think there isn't a movement in this country to take away your daughters' future rights to make their own decisions about their own bodies should they ever be pregnant? I guess if these are all made-up, nonexistent issues, then you're right.

"When something is as ubiquitous (and largely unquestioned) as this, it makes me worried."

That strikes me as being contrarian for its own sake. Hey, I just realized that bathing regularly seems to be ubiquitous & unquestioned. I guess that means it must be suspect. You also say, "No one questions." Dude, I question the direction my country is in. I am deeply angry & fearful of what the Bush admin. is doing and will continue to do if given the chance. So I'm doing what I can within the system we have to change that. It is you who choose to do nothing, while insisting you maintain the right to bitch about it.

You also say some voices are not heard even when they vote. No, people are well aware that Bush lost the popular vote and had no broad mandate for his policies. That he ignored this explains part of the anger in the country. Your voice is not heard, by your own choice. The point of "then you shouldn't complain" is that you *choose* to make your voice impotent. It's like you're in a cell, saying you've been wrongly convicted; someone says, well you can appeal the verdict; and you say, eh, I can't be bothered. It follows that fellow inmates might in future be inclined to suggest you stop whining then.

"Kurt Vonnegut said, "Only psychopaths want to be president." What does that say about the people who believe we need one?"

So is this one of the experts who's full of shit, or one of the experts we should listen to?

"When has an "issue" ever been "resolved"?"

So I guess they still have slaves in the South. And no, I'm not making a cheap shot here. The fact is, Lincoln nearly lost re-election, and if he had, the war likely would have been curtailed, thus extending slavery for who knows how long.

"Chads, the electoral college, electronic voting machines."

Yeah. But I find it odd to react to such serious problems by throwing one's hands in the air, essentially saying "you win" to those who would compromise the vote.

"I mean, the more people vote, the better, right?"

Actually, yes. The fewer people who vote, the more empowered govt. officials feel to do whatever the hell they want, b/c the people are too apathetic to care.

"if everyone who could vote did, what would that solve? How on earth would that make anything better?"

How about we give it a try and find out? Personally, I just can't agree that militant ignorance is a viable strategy.

-nkl

P@ said...

Simon - Imagine that there were two prisoners, one from a prison that had very relaxed rules on the inmates, one that was very very strict. If they started comparing their lives, I suppose the one from the relaxed prison might start to think that he had it pretty good. "Gee," he might say to himself (and others), "in other prisons, they don't even get to choose their wardens. How fortunate we are!"

Annika - I realize that my not voting is not going to change the system. Neither is unschooling my children. Neither is taking public transportation, buying only locally grown food, going vegetarian, cleaning up litter, or any number of other things. In fact, the system can't be changed. I want it removed. But in the meantime, I can support it as little as possible.

Jess and the others, I'll have to get back to later. We're heading out now.

P@ said...

Jess - I never said (or meant to say, if I did [wink]) that Dubya doesn't have an effect on my life. Obviously he does, otherwise I wouldn't be writing about him.

I did say that Reagan had no effect on my life at the time he was president, because I was between the ages of six (in 1981) and 14. Between those ages, for the most part, I didn't have a clue who the president was, nor did I care. Just as now, George W. does not have an impact on Saren's life.

As for just "going along and voting "none of the above"...That's the point, isn't it? I don't want to have to play the stupid game. Why should I have to? Why should anyone who doesn't want to?
"You're stuck with the president whether you vote or not"Exactly what I'm bitching about.

Amanda - I've not done any looking into the Libertarian Party (surprise! They don't get much coverage!) but I might do so. Contrary to what I may have been presenting, I'm not closed to the idea of being wrong. (Now if only the system were as open-minded. [grin])

Kirk - First, thank you for responding. I knew when I wrote this that it was going to get a reaction from you, and as always, I respect your viewpoints and the fact that you will respect me as well.

How does voting translate to "there is only one right way to live"? That makes absolutely no sense. Given the diversity of lives in this country...I have no idea what that even means.It's like Jess said: You have to live with the president whether you vote or not. Democracy has it in it's head (actually, all forms of government do, to the best of my knowledge) that they are the BEST WAY TO LIVE. Iraqis living under Saddam's rule? Can't have that. Let's force some democracy on them. It's better!
Vietnamese having Communism? Can't have that. Let's force some democracy on them. It's better!
It's the RIGHT way.
It's the ONLY way.

I don't know how to make it clearer that the system while yes, allowing some diversity, is actually quite stifiling. Like I said in my response to Simon - the rules of the prison may be different (we can choose who the warden is, we can change what our cells look like, we've got nicer toys, etc) but it's still a prison. All government systems are. Democracy just gives the illusion of choice and power.

"When something is as ubiquitous (and largely unquestioned) as this, it makes me worried."

That strikes me as being contrarian for its own sake. Hey, I just realized that bathing regularly seems to be ubiquitous & unquestioned. I guess that means it must be suspect.
No, actually, because a) we arent' bombarded with the message to bathe daily (see my other examples of things we aren't "instructed" to do) and b) bathing is a natural instinct. Just like mating, eating, loving, caring for others. It's the things that are not natural that have to be pounded into people. Things like voting. Things like school. Things like taking prescription drugs for every little ache (watch an hour of primetime TV and see if there isn't at least one commercial for a medicine of some sort). These things are ubiquitous, unquestioned, and unnatural. If we weren't constantly bombarded to do them, we wouldn't.

So I'm doing what I can within the system we have to change that.Within the system. Exactly. And that's the problem - the system. It's flawed now, it was flawed then, it will be flawed until the day it crumbles.

It is you who choose to do nothing, while insisting you maintain the right to bitch about it.I don't see it as doing nothing. And it's the system that would attempt to take away that right. Also interesting that one of the points I mentioned time and again is that there are so many voices that DON'T have the "right" to bitch (illegible voters) but that doesn't seem to bother you. Or at least not as much as someone who can vote, but chooses not to.

"Kurt Vonnegut said, "Only psychopaths want to be president." What does that say about the people who believe we need one?"

So is this one of the experts who's full of shit, or one of the experts we should listen to?
I almost didn't include that line, because I knew that calling people who vote psychopaths (indirectly) is bad form. Name calling in an arguement = not good. (It's getting late and I'm getting tired)
Anyway, I never said Vonnegut was an expert. He simply stated a quote that I think has some truth to it. I believe that Bush and Kerry are both insane individuals. Surely you don't doubt that?

"I mean, the more people vote, the better, right?"

Actually, yes. The fewer people who vote, the more empowered govt. officials feel to do whatever the hell they want, b/c the people are too apathetic to care.
Just to play devil's advocate - wouldn't the less people who vote = the more powerful your vote is?

Bah. Very late at night, and my brain has effectively become mush. If you've gotten this far in reading, congratulations, and thank you.

Jess said...

No, you're right. Nobody should have to vote who doesn't want to, and in this country they aren't forced to. But what I'm talking about is communication. The first half of communication is what the person talking (or writing, or (not) voting) is trying to say; the second half is the message received. See, by not voting, you might be saying, "I want to opt out," but what people (politicians, pundits, journalists) are hearing is, "blah blah apathy blah disaffection ignorancecakes."

Now it might be that you don't care that your statement is unheard or misunderstood, and you're happy to live your own life in your own way, and that's OK by me. But that's the reason why I believe that not voting sends an entirely different message than voting "none of the above." With the former, I don't really believe you're using your voice in a way that makes sure it gets heard. It's easily dismissable.

Amy said...

To comment is to reply.

If I seem haphazard in what I'm responding to, I'm sorry. There was a lot of reading, and my brain just started shouting random answers. One of them, I swear to God, was "Pop Tarts!"

But first, some light political humour:

"Nader would probably be Diet Coke, or something like that." No, Nader would be Dr. Pepper. You know it's been around a long time, but you don't actually know anyone who gets it, or where they sell this stuff.

Anyway, on to the reply. I really must suggest again that you watch the film "SLC Punk." I really like it, and it has those great anti-mod quotes. [wink] But more to the point, the story is more or less about the main character considering the option that Anarchist might be a fruitless career goal.

I'm at the moment not really sure what "system" you're complaining about, because most of what you said is actually directed specifically at our modern American democracy, which, as certain people (read: Rob) can explain better, is not a real democracy anyway.

We were wrong for wanting to topple communism. But weren't they wrong too, for thinking *they* knew the One Right Way to live? All governments are flawed, because they're Civilization, right? They're all systems.

But that's the point - everything is systems, Pat. Life is a system. People are made of systems. Or bodies are made of systems. This planet is made of systems. This Universe is made of systems. The reason you perceive The System to be flawed is because The System is people. People are flawed. And as long as you have people living, they're never going to be living in the perfectly right way. But there are people in this country, and in other countries who want our system to be as fair and just as possible - and that's what they vote for. Some people vote for their own selfish needs.

One thing that the Kirk and I have disagreed over, is I don't think we should get more people voting. If you don't know *how* to vote, you shouldn't vote, just like if you don't know how to drive, you shouldn't drive. Yes, you *can*, but that doesn't mean you *should*, even if you are granted the "right." You're putting lives in jeopardy if you don't know what you're doing.

And this line of thinking influences how I feel about not voting. I actually used to think just like you do. But my mind got changed somewhere along the line. Not voting isn't a vote for not voting -- it's a vote for [blank]. Your voice isn't heard when you don't do anything, because you're not *saying* anything. People do not know that Pat Q. Freakazoid's non-vote was a vote against the system. It could have been any of the following options:
"I have suffered brain damage and cannot vote."
"I do not know enough about this election to make an informed choice."
"I don't support this system of government."
"I don't like these candidates. I think our president should be a large rabbit wearing a bowtie. The vice president should be a turnip."

As for ideas being forceed down our throats, I really can't see where you're coming from. A fact is not more or less true because you claim its true. If people are told to do something - that doesn't mean they shouldn't do it or that it's not natural. To take two of your examples, let's start with bathing: Yes, people bathe. But why do we bathe every day? (Or every other day, or, as often as we do?) Why are natural human odors considered bad? Why would we be embarrased if our hair were unwashed and uncombed? Why do we wash our hands before we rub them all over food we intend to put in our mouths? That's not natural. There's no natural instinct to do that. Natural is: is there's fecal matter stuck to your ass, run your ass across the ground a few times! If there are lice in your dirty hair, pick them out! Then eat them, they're low carb.

As for drugs, I remember a time when they weren't advertised on television. Did people take as much then? Maybe not. Do people take more drugs then they need these days? Probably. But I think it's *natural* to not want to be in pain. I think, if you are in pain, and you know something will stop it, it's natural to want to use that thing.

Incidentally, I wonder if you notice that you also support the idea that there is "One Right Way To Live." That is, the only correct way to live is outside of civilzation, because civilization is wrong. But that, too, is a system, Pat. You're not offering an alternative to systems, you're just offering an alternative system.

And you tell us, your readers over and over again that your way is right, this is natural, this is how we should be. And yes, we could not read your blog like we can not watch television and not see those drug ads. We could not email you like we could not read Newsweek articles. But I certainly don't want to do that. And I don't think your other friends would either. I personally don't mind that you're telling us that the way we live is wrong, just like the European conquerers told the indigenous peoples of the Americas that the way they lived was wrong, I just find it ironic.

Incidentally, back to the voting issue, I'm not saying you should vote. Honestly, if you're against it, I don't think you should vote. I'd never suggest that anyone, especially a friend do something they were violently against. Who knows? Perhaps your aversion to voting exists because the day you break down and go to vote, a nutcase will break in and gun everyone down, and this is the Universe's way of getting you to stay out of voting booths. Who knows? If you don't want to vote, don't vote! All I want to do is make sure you know and really think about why.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Pat--well, thank you for not taking offense. It's a quality you have I admire. I still don't see how voting = one right way to live. You can go to church, or not. Send your kids to school, or not. Wear whatever clothes you like. Listen to whatever music, read whatever books. Make a living in whatever way you choose (unless the govt regards it as illegal, but that's a whole other subject). We're not exactly under Stalin here. And as far as "the system"--oy. Since I don't agree that an absence of *any* system is an option, I'll stick with what Churchill said, that Democracy is the worst system imaginable--except for all the other ones.

"there are so many voices that DON'T have the "right" to bitch (illegible voters) but that doesn't seem to bother you."

Well in fairness, I didn't have time to respond to all your points. But anyway--as far as trees & lakes, that's what environmentalists attempt to do, to speak for nature's welfare. And the environmental movement has been rather successful considering the entrenched forces alligned against it. As far as inmates--I'm in favor of current or former felons being allowed to vote. It's not exactly my highest priority, but I wouldn't stand against it.

"I believe that Bush and Kerry are both insane individuals."

I can't tell if you're being tongue-in-cheek or not. But if you genuinely believe Kerry is insane, please tell me why. B/c I can't imagaine why you think that.

"Just to play devil's advocate - wouldn't the less people who vote = the more powerful your vote is?"

I can't answer this w/o getting partisan [/sorry]. What I think is that the largest numbers of nonvoters are found among ethnic minorities & the poor, which are both traditionally Democratic voters (when they do bother to vote). Therefore, I believe a higher voter turnout will help Democrats--and I make no apology for that.

-nkl

Amanda said...

Amy makes an excellent point. Our votes (or non-votes) do lose a lot of information if TPTB don't know why we vote one way or another. Political platforms, by their very nature, are full of compromises, and represent no one fully. People vote on one or two isses, maybe and that's it. Hell, if Kerry's elected, it's going to be more of a condemnation of W's performance rather than approval of Kerry. I was polled by a Democratic Party worker last night, who asked me how I was leaning (third-party) and why (I feel the government has too much influence on our lives). I feel like that conversation will have just as much impact as my vote, like somehow my conversation with a random volunteer will filter up to John Kerry: there's this woman in Iowa who is voting for Badnarik instead of for you because she feels there's too much government in her life. And maybe he'll think about that. Or I could be deluding myself. Whatever. So maybe you should write a letter to the campaigns each time you don't vote, explaining why you don't vote. It would certainly make more of an impact, if the candidate ever saw it.

Buffalo said...

Sound pretty close to right on!

Jess said...

Amy - Dr Pepper is not analogous to Ralph Nader, because DrP is very popular in Texas.

Everyone - Amy said what I was trying to say, only longer, more connectedly, and possibly also better.

Amy said...

Jess - How about RC Cola?

johnny said...

Want a Brit's view on this?

The fact that you are intelligent enough to write such an articulate letter pointing out the reasons why you personally do not wish to vote simply says you do not agree with your voting system so you won't take part in it. If one candidate stood for everything you believed in and the other candidate against all your beliefs would you vote then? Yes or No? Yes makes you a hypocrite - No makes you a fool. Which brings us to the third option, which is both candidates for only half your beliefs. A No vote option here makes you a spoilt brat.
None of these do you wish your friends to see you as, so that is the real reason you tell them you don't vote.

Annika said...

Maybe Tab?

Jess said...

Apparently this Brit's opinion doesn't count. :P

P@ said...

Sheesh. I do believe I'm nearing a record number of comments. Yay? I've certainly hit a number on the amount of scrolling that one needs to do in order to read everything. Scroll, my friends! Scroll like the wind! That being said, let's make it longer, shall we?

Jess - Ahh! I get what you're saying now. Thank you for clarifying. If I were to vote, I think going the "none of the above" route would be the way I would go. That makes a lot of sense for the reasons you stated.

Amy - How do you do it? You always manage to make me think and laugh, and you seem to both agree and yet, somehow not exactly agree with my viewpoints. It's an amazing ability. Okay. Onto the replying.

Mmmm. Pop tarts.

Well, to beat the drink/candidate analogy into the ground, originally I was going to say Nader would be Sprite - not as dark as the other colas, but still not as healthy as H2O, and ultimately something that you could not survive on if you drank it and only it. I said Diet Coke for the reasoning that people say "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush." Thus, a vote for Diet Coke would be a vote for Coke.
It's highly amusing though, that nobody can figure out exactly what kind of drink that guy is.

We were wrong for wanting to topple communism. But weren't they wrong too, for thinking *they* knew the One Right Way to live?Yes! I swore I said that (or something similiar) in my response to Kirk, but I may have just thought I did.
Regardless, yes. The problem is that ...well, you said it in your next sentence...

All governments are flawed, because they're Civilization, right? They're all systems.Agreed.

This planet is made of systems. This Universe is made of systems. The reason you perceive The System to be flawed is because The System is people.Apart from making "systems" look funny, I'm not sure I follow. The Universe is a system? Does that mean it can be changed to a different one? Or replaced completely?
Hee. The Universe holding an election. "I vote we remove the law of gravity. It totally sucks!" [grin]

People are flawed.I disagree.
Are cats flawed?
Are monkeys?
Dolphins or beetles (or the Beatles) or hippos?
People are animals, and no animal is "flawed". Because if they were, they wouldn't be around any more. Flawed creatures get eliminated. Civilization is flawed, and it's working it's way into destruction, it's just taking a VERY long time. People are not flawed, but the way they choose to live can be.

And as long as you have people living, they're never going to be living in the perfectly right way.Perfectly right way according to whom? The problem arises when people get it in their heads that EVERYONE needs to live the way they do. More on this in a bit, because you say some stuff that ties in with what I'm thinking.

Not voting isn't a vote for not voting -- it's a vote for [blank]. Your voice isn't heard when you don't do anything, because you're not *saying* anything.Got it. This is what Jess was saying too. (Right, Jess?)
This makes sense to me. (Although I also see that not voting is a way of saying that you don't care to participate, for whatever reason - brain damage, turnips, or lack of support/interest.)

As for ideas being forceed down our throats, I really can't see where you're coming from. A fact is not more or less true because you claim its true. If people are told to do something - that doesn't mean they shouldn't do it or that it's not natural. Oh, I know. There are many things we are told to do that are useful. I can't think of any offhand, but I know that there are. Not everything is some evil plot. [wink] I just think that way too much is unquestioned. Simply accepted as "part of the system" or "the way things go". Like Steph was saying about cars in her blog. I don't know. I'm losing my train of thought here and not expressing myself clearly.

Do people take more drugs then they need these days? Probably. But I think it's *natural* to not want to be in pain. I think, if you are in pain, and you know something will stop it, it's natural to want to use that thing.I agree. However, I think that it's also natural (such as it is) for the drug companies to advertise ad nauseum (HEE!) in order to make more money. There are ways to not be in pain without resorting to medicines. But judging simply by television (probably not a wise thing to do), you'll be in all sorts of agony unless you take everything under the sun. (Talk to your doctor) It's THAT type of thinking that goes unquestioned that bothers me.

Incidentally, I wonder if you notice that you also support the idea that there is "One Right Way To Live." That is, the only correct way to live is outside of civilzation, because civilization is wrong. But that, too, is a system, Pat. You're not offering an alternative to systems, you're just offering an alternative system."All models are wrong, but some are very very useful." - someone from ishcon.

I don't propose that living outside of civlization is the One Right Way. Granted, I want people to agree with me, and I think the world would be a better place without civilization, but I would never say, "You MUST live this way." (Unless I have. [doh])
Let's see if I can reword this.
Civilization is not the best way for people to live, but folks should have the right to live that way if they want. AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT INTRUDE ON OTHER PEOPLE'S WAY OF LIVING. Which is what civilization does. It spreads and grows and expands. Stamping out everything in it's path. That's my biggest (well, one of my biggest) beefs with civ. is that it doesn't allow for a "live and let live" attitude. It sucks you in or it tramples you.
That being said, if people want to continue living this way, more power to them. But the people who DON'T want to live this way need to be allowed the choice not to. And they aren't.
Anti-civlization living is the One Right Way - for me.

I personally don't mind that you're telling us that the way we live is wrong, just like the European conquerers told the indigenous peoples of the Americas that the way they lived was wrong, I just find it ironic.It does have a nice sense of irony, doesn't it?
And, yes, I believe that our way of living is wrong, and I KNOW that it will someday collapse. um..I dont remember what I was going to say.
Something about how even though I know that the current system is wrong on so many levels...no. I've lost it again. Next!

Honestly, if you're against it, I don't think you should vote. I'd never suggest that anyone, especially a friend, do something they were violently against.Thank you, Amy.
Although, just to stir things up, isn't voting for things ...telling other people what to do? And isn't it telling them to do things they may be against?

Perhaps your aversion to voting exists because the day you break down and go to vote, a nutcase will break in and gun everyone downGun everyone down, eh?

;)

Kirk -
I still don't see how voting = one right way to live. You can go to church, or not. Send your kids to school, or not. Wear whatever clothes you like. Listen to whatever music, read whatever books. Make a living in whatever way you choose (unless the govt regards it as illegal, but that's a whole other subject). But one could do all that without a president in place as well. Probably easier.

We're not exactly under Stalin here.Not yet. [wink]

Since I don't agree that an absence of *any* system is an optionWhy not? Anarchy is opposed by those in power, which makes sense - they're in power. But people can live without governments. The bad rap that anarchy has is, imo, due to governments putting a spin on it, and due to those who are 'civilized' reacting to a lack of authority.
An interesting experiment would be for a small town somewhere to be completely governmentless - on purpose - and to see what happened to it. I don't know how such an experiment would be conducted, exactly, and I don't think I'm expressing myself as well as I should be, but the point is, we know that a lack of systems works (it has in the past) but any time it would be tried now, goverments intervene.

"I believe that Bush and Kerry are both insane individuals."

I can't tell if you're being tongue-in-cheek or not. But if you genuinely believe Kerry is insane, please tell me why. B/c I can't imagaine why you think that.
Well, Bush is certifiable. I don't think anyone is gonna argue with that one.
Kerry said in the debates, "We will hunt down and kill the terrorists."
[sigh] Dude. The War on Terror is the WRONG WAY TO GO. It doesn't "work" any more than the War on Drugs, or a War on War would. It creates more terrorists.
That's a whole other topic, though. But it showed me that Kerry is either crazy, or simply saying what he thinks will get him elected.
Other reasons Kerry is, imo, insane - He's running for President. Who in their right mind would want that job? You constantly get threats, you have the entire world to take "care of", so much stress. Who could possibly think they were even capable of doing such a thing?
God, perhaps.
Which, you know, explains Bush. But really, it explains any leader. They think they are all powerful, and we all know what happens with power.
Plus, Kerry wants civilization to continue, so he's cuckoo by default. [wink]

I think is that the largest numbers of nonvoters are found among ethnic minorities & the poor, which are both traditionally Democratic voters I've given my reasons for not voting. I'm interested -why do you think that minorities and the poor don't?

Buffalo - Thanks, random stranger! Feel free to stick around.

johnny - Thank you for your input, but the reason Im' not voting is actually listed in the original entry. It has nothing to do with looking like a hypocrite or a fool. (For the record, I've been both, and have no qualms with looking like either one)

All of this being said, thank you to everyone who has commented so far. It's raised some very interesting points, and I hope that a lot of thinking has been done by all involved. In the end, though, this talk of voting is rather pointless. For two reasons.
1) Bush is going to win. I'll bet anyone a dollar that he does. If Kerry wins, I'll send you a buck.
2) Yesterday was the last day to register to vote, and I did not, so even if I wanted to vote, I'm not capable.

P@ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
johnny said...

Jess
Compare "P@'s" reasons to NOT vote with this ladies option TO vote. Can you imagine being in her situation with No vote?

"P@"
I don't know how old you are but when Roses 3 year old daughter is your age I doubt very much she will have the same view on voting as you.

http://rosebaghdad.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely nothing useful to add to this conversation except I wanted to say HI and Jeezohpete, hanging out in your blog is waaaay more interesting than the BG. I mostly wanted to see how you were doing and of course Steph and the kids.

But just so I don't feel like a complete dork, I'll say that I do vote because in essence I love telling other people what to do! Just ask my family!

Actually, I am quite honestly considering "not" voting for president when I go to the polls this year. If I have the option, I might "write in" a candidate but I'm trying to come up with someone "sarcastic" enough so that my displeasure at my choices will be known. I've done "mickey mouse" in the past so I need to come up with someone more original. There are however, two proposals that I want to express my opinion on. One is changing the Michigan State constitution to ban gay marriage. The other is whether or not to give the general population a say in gambling concerns in Michigan rather than have lawmakers decide everything. I suppose in doing this, I feel I've made a "stand" even if I don't particularly make a difference.

So....how are you doing?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I don't agree that anarchy is an option (it worked in the past? when was that?). But then I don't know what you mean by anarchy. Would hospitals exist in such a system (or lack of system)? Also, think about this--you & Steph take one of your kids to the hospital b/c she has some illness or injury. The hospital says, "Hey, aren't you that atheist Whalen family? We don't treat your kind." You know who prevents that sort of thing happening? The govt. Just sayin'.

"why do you think that minorities and the poor don't (vote)?"

A gen'l feeling of apathy & hopelessness that it wouldn't change anything if they did. The problem is, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Vote in large numbers and that will change. You want proof? Two examples. One, the NRA, which is numerically a rather small organization, but they have so effectively mobilized gun owners that they have clout in Washington well beyond their numbers. Two, the elderly are a demographic that votes in high numbers, and the AARP has over the years become a huge influence on politicians, b/c it represents that demographic. Voting works, pal.

Btw, I have to rap your knuckles over this "Besides, Bush is going to win" business. Dude, you're not even following the race, you have no idea who's going to win. I am following the race closely, and I don't know either. This self-justifying 'don't give me a hard time b/c Bush will win anyway' is the same dodge Duskfire used; it's annoying & unconvincing, my friend.

Finally, a point of agreement! Hurrah! Which is this:

"Kerry said in the debates, "We will hunt down and kill the terrorists."
[sigh] Dude. The War on Terror is the WRONG WAY TO GO. It doesn't "work" any more than the War on Drugs, or a War on War would. It creates more terrorists."

Absolutely. I hate the semantics of 'the war on terror' (nearly as stupid as 'the war on drugs'). Terrorism is too amorphous a thing to wage war on. Really, it's like crime in general--the best way to combat it is to work on the root causes, hopelessness, poverty, injustice, disenfranchisement. Hunting down terrorists is fine short term, but it solves nothing in the big picture b/c if conditions don't change there will always be new terrorists to replace them. And yes, Kerry did say it to get elected. Let's not pretend we're all innocent & shocked by that. You have to do a bit of pandering to get elected (see also: religion). But the fact that not all of politics is pure & noble doesn't invalidate the whole of it. What matters is what Kerry would do in office, not his campaign rhetoric.

-nkl

Jess said...

Johnny said:

" Jess
Compare "P@'s" reasons to NOT vote with this ladies option TO vote. Can you imagine being in her situation with No vote?
"

I don't quite understeand either your comment or why it is addressed to me.

Soupytwist said...

A person's vote does have impact on society, P@. Especially at the local level, where not enough people vote at all, and a very small minority determine the course of things that have direct effect on how individuals live.

D.C. is very far away from Seattle - but City Hall is literally a five minute bus ride away from where I live, and I'll be damned (and screwed, and without transportation) if I don't give some fucking input into my local government.

This local level of representative government is something I think you're overlooking in your argument. It must suck to feel as impotent as you do about your voice in society - I can't even conceive of where you are coming from. From where I stand, it seems like something that you've created to feel justified in how you live, just like everyone else.

Sorry if I sound hostile - I don't feel that way. Just being honest in my response. Now it's time for me to go on a date with husband. :-) I think we're going to get some sammiches. It should be pretty cool.

P@ said...

Just to let anyone who is still interested in continuing this discussion know, I've not forgotten about it, I just ...was on hiatus for a bit. I think after the baby is born, I'll be more than happy to continue debating the pros and cons of voting and democracy. [/killing two birds with one stone]