It is now about a week past the big history making election of 2008. Just weeks ago, people were receiving invitations to election night parties. My daughter, who is seventeen and not even able to vote in this election (she misses it by one month) is even invited to an election night party. I have not been invited to any such parties. I admit, this sad state of affairs is my own fault. After all, I’ve been completely derelict in my duties as a responsible American citizen. I have not followed the political debates. I have not kept up on the arguments on either side. I have simply not followed the campaign at all. I feel like the losingest American in history (if we’re going on principle here) and I probably should. I have simply stuck my political head in the proverbial sand this entire election season.
The question begs to be asked: Why?
The question is answered simply: Why not?
Okay, I’m not saying my position or behavior is right or exemplary. I am fully aware of the price women in decades, even centuries before me paid for the right to vote and be heard. I value this and would not want to trade my place in history for theirs for anything. I am so grateful for all those who have gone before who have established and protected our republic. I am grateful but I am weak and ineffective. I feel the fight before me to make a difference is hopeless. As John Mayer states it in his popular song, “Waiting For The World To Change”,
“And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want “
I guess, in the end, I feel that the entire presidential election is a big marketing scam. I don’t know how many of the sound bites are real. I don’t know how many of the images that I receive have been photoshopped and dubbed over. I don’t trust any of it. And I know that the media, even in it’s best effort cannot accurately retell all that was communicated or intended. Why is that?
It is because of the human element.
The human element involves emotion. Emotion colors our world. Emotion distorts and photoshops our realities. Each one of us, individually has a completely different read on the facts than the next person has. And the people controlling the sound bites that reach me in my little living room in Suburbia USA are, in the end, human. They pick and choose the sound bites that please or motivate them. How can I trust that? Media, as much as it pretends to be objective cannot be.
It just seemed simply easier and more productive to ignore it all this year than not to. I simply wish someone would step up to the plate, look at the issues, cut through the political popularity contests and get to work fixing the mess we’ve made of this country. I would love it if a candidate could step up there and take a stand without having to be “bought”. And, yet, that is our system. For example, no one wants to deal with welfare reform because no one on welfare will vote you for you…while millions of Americans survive and sell for cash food stamps in amounts that triple what I’m able to spend on groceries for my family of five and the difference between many of them and me? They just want to stay home with the kids and let others provide for them instead of going out and providing themselves when they are capable of educating themselves and getting decent paying jobs to do so. I know that this particular issue is more involved and difficult to address than I’m giving it time for here. I know that there are other issues facing us that need just as much attention and which are just as complicated. It isn’t an easy set of issues to tackle or solve regardless of your political affiliation.
I guess in the end, I feel that the problems are in many ways insurmountable without a complete redesign of many aspects of our government and government agencies. This redesign will never happen in our current system which is so focused on gaining, keeping, controlling and fixing power. I feel more than ever before that the pawns are placed in front of us by the real power players and the marketing campaigns carefully strategized to elicit our votes for the chosen candidate. I’m only a little tiny cog in a great big machine completely oblivious to me or my input. Were I to write any of the elected officials, I’d get a computer generated form letter back, not unlike the responses to fan mail I used to send when I was ten.
I mean really, how much more irrelevant to the process can I be?