Monday, November 2, 1998

Week of 11/02/1998

More Election Time Rants
Because one batch of rants is never enough for politics
- by David Matthews 2

You know, it’s sort of appropriate that election day in America is just a few days after Halloween, because all during the month of October, our politicians put on their own versions of masks, and go parading about tricking the voters into giving them their treats.

Although, personally, I agree with the comedian Gallagher when he said that election day should be on the same day as tax day. I’d take it even one further, and have the polling places at the post office on that day, so when you drop off your tax forms in the mail slot, you’d have no excuse not to take a few extra minutes and express your dissatisfaction about those taxes where it really mattered! Matter of fact, I think that’s one of the reasons why tax day is set so far outside the campaign season - so we don’t get pissed off when we should and vote out all these politicians on a regular basis.

But let’s face it, part of the reason why these over-hyped swindlers and control freaks get into office in the first place is because of the actions of you, the voting public. We’ve gone over some of the tricks and tactics of our professional hucksters, now we need to examine the other side of the con - the American voter. So let’s look at some of the voting myths and tall tales:

Everyone Votes - The common myth is that only the people who get to the voting booths are the only ones who vote. The brutally honest reality is that EVERY adult votes on election day, it’s simply a matter of deciding if they will cast a ballot or let other people vote for them.

The non-vote is probably the most influential of votes in today’s election. We’ve gone over this subject many times, and it is still worth repeating - today’s politicians don’t want you to vote unless you are unquestionably on their side! If they can’t count on you to be 100% devoted to their campaign, they would rather have you sit at home or at work, doing nothing. And the old saying in politics is quite true - "If you don’t vote, then my vote counts twice!"

If you don’t vote, you vote for the status quo. Every non-vote means you the voter don’t care enough about the political system to want to change it. You don’t like the system, but you don’t want to do anything about it.

"My Vote Doesn’t Matter" - Just ask Bonnie Richardson about that. She was running for a seat on the City Council for Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico this past March. Small town, population of 1300 people. When all the votes were cast and counted, including the absentee votes, she lost by ONE vote.

I realize that the lull of the collective mentality is so strong that it may make your one vote seem insignificant in comparison, but history is replete with instances where one single vote was the deciding factor in monumental events. We would have never gone to war with England if not for one deciding vote. The decision of many states to be either a "free" or a "slave" state, a decision that precipitated the American Civil War, were decided by just one vote. Presidents have been elected by the influence of one electoral vote. Many a Supreme Court decision has been decided upon by just one vote.

Think about all the elections in your area where the candidates are running at a virtual dead head in the polls. One vote could very much decide their outcome.

"I don’t want to waste my vote" - Folks, this is probably the most lamest of excuses. The only way you can waste your vote is to cast your non-vote by staying away from the ballot box. If you go to the polling place and vote, your vote is never wasted.

The 20% of the voting populace that voted for anybody but Bill Clinton or George Bush in the 1992 presidential election didn’t waste their votes! They sent a clear message to the politicians that they were upset at the current political system and wanted change. Every voter who votes for a third-party candidate says the same message.

"There aren’t any other candidates for me to vote for" - More zero-sum tripe! As a Libertarian, I know that there are PLENTY of alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans. The Libertarian Party, for example, has over EIGHT HUNDRED candidates out there on various state and local ballots. There are dozens of different political parties out there, all of which you can examine at sites like Project Vote Smart to determine who is on the ballot in which race.

Just because you only hear from the wealthiest of loudmouths doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there!

"I don’t have the time to vote" - Perhaps the only legitimate reason why someone cannot make it to the polls. Look folks, I also have to work, and as it happens, Tuesdays are the longest of work days for me because I have to work late into the night. So what does that mean for me? That means I’ll be at the polling place bright and early when they open at seven in the morning! It’s really just a question of finding out when those hours are and being there. It may mean you’ll be a little late getting to work, or having to take a little longer lunch than usual, but if you can afford it, you really don’t have an excuse.

At a time when we still have to deal with instances of voter fraud, it’s ironic that there are so many voters with so many excuses not to vote. With career politicians pretending to care, and with pollsters so attentive as to who is and isn’t voting, it’s insulting to have polling places where volunteers spend more time reading books than doing the jobs they volunteered to do - help people exercise their responsibility as voters.

What will be your excuse?

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