Election Times

It's that time again. I was a little worried that my voter registration wouldn't catch up to me in time for the election, but that seems to have been needless. A few weeks after I got my California driver's license, I received my voter registration information and I registered to vote permanent absentee. This means that when election time rolls around, they mail me a ballot and I mail them my choices. Now, when I moved to California I made a deal with myself not to discuss politics while I was physically located in this state. This may seem a little odd, but it has actually been very beneficial. Instead of telling other people what I think and explaining my reasoning and showing supporting evidence for my positions, instead I just kept my mouth shut and listened as the people around me expounded on their own political beliefs. Most of the conversations revolved around the office of the President, of course. I noticed a few interesting themes among the conversations I heard:

  • Most of the comments and conversations were derisive of a particular candidate based not on the candidate's espoused position but rather on a particular turn of phrase used by the candidate.
  • The conversations tended to be derisive more towards one particular political party affiliation than others.
  • There were only ever two possible vote choices mentioned, debates were always held between "the" two sides, and no mention was ever made of other entries in the Presidential race, other races, voting without looking at party denominations.
This was an unsettling realization for me. Regardless of which party is being praised or disparaged, I like to think of my fellow Americans as posessing some ability to reason and discern and base decisions on rational thought processes. Granted, I have no idea for whom any of the people I've talked with are voting, nor would I ask. The part that unsettles me is the complete void of mention of any other political party or candidate aside from the candidates supported by the official Democratic and Republican parties, and the lack of any substantive discussion about issues and positions on them held by any of the candidates. It's even more unsettling to me that no one so much as mentioned, not even once!, the senate and house seats in congress that are up for grabs. Do they not realize that the President doesn't get to make laws or control spending or taxes? All he can do is veto bills, lead the military (but not define its budget), influence foreign policy and appoint Justices of the Suprime Court. Granted that's a huge amount of power for a single man or woman, but people seem so caught up in the Presidency that they completely ignore the power of congress.

There was no mention of state, county or local government races at all, which I can somewhat concede because they don't have as far reaching effects as federal level elections, but they are still important and worthy of discussion and reflection and research. The bills and ammendments included on my ballot also got research and reflection time from me, though I wonder if any of those I've heard wax poetical about political intrigue bothered to do more than read the summary of the item before casting a vote yay or neigh.

I'm all for voting, but come on. Discuss the topics, have thoughtful discourse, realize that there aren't just two candidates for any of the positions on the ballot! I don't know if I'd rather have an American abstain or vote from ignorance, because both are equally insulting to the country that men and women have bled and died for.

In closing, VOTE, and VOTE INFORMEDLY!
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