Election Blues

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?  

 

4 thoughts on “Election Blues

  1. Cat…

    I’m sorry, but that was the most disappointing piece of “feel-sorry” that I’ve read in a long time. And coming from a teacher, no less.

    If you couldn’t get exicted about the choices we had this year, you might want to check your pulse. TV is not the only source for information. This election gave us a huge opportunity to converse, to let your opinion be known, to listen and learn, to seek, to ask questions of friends, co-workers, even strangers. To be involved in a process so sacred, so wonderful, so desired by others, that to not act seems horribly ungrateful to me.

    What if we all felt like you? What if we all stuck our head in the sand because we felt the system wasn’t working? Who then would guide your country, make your laws, send your sons and daughters to fight, or teach them in our schools?

    No democracy is perfect. In fact, it’s complicated and messy. Just like all of the people involved in it, and that includes you, me, and those we vote for. But to stand on the sidelines and complain or lament its shortcomings does not further any cause, build any nation, create any good, fight any wrong.

    I remember being in the 5th grade and I was so excited about John Kennedy being elected MY President. I wanted to stay home from school to watch the inaguration, but my mom wouldn’t let me, and I can’t tell you the disappontment I felt. 5th grade! And I was just as excited this year as I was 47 years ago. I felt proud this past week. Proud that I was included in a process so wonderful that men and woman have died for it. Died so I could feel that sense of purpose, that feeling that what I have to say DOES matter.

    That’s the lesson I taught my 5th grade daughter this week. That’s the enthusiasm and responsiblity I’m determined for her to carry into her generation.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now.
    Jack

    PS. I have you to blame for me being hooked on blogs!

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  2. Hi Jack,
    Hey, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. And, a brutally honest one at that…emphasis on the brutal. Let me respond by saying a couple of things.

    First, feelings do not equate to actions. I did vote, and I am proud of my country and I was cognizant of the import of this particular election in so many ways and I was honored to be a part of this process at this particular place in time. The blog was a fairly candid reflection of my dilemma this particular season after having experienced a completely disappointing president, who, for many led the charge for positive change when he campaigned as did the president before him.

    Second, I wasn’t considering T.V. as my only source of information. But, keep in mind conversing about an issue doesn’t equate to enacting change, especially if the opinions of co-workers, colleagues and friends are determined by sound bytes or Youtube video clips…or…even, dare I say it…blogs by people far more in the know than I.

    Third, I think many more people than you might think, feel exactly the way I do. They still vote. They still vote and they still feel they are voting for the lesser of two evils and they do this on principal but not because anyone really presents a workable solution to the quagmire we call government these days. They, like me, do it because of the very values you expressed. Obama came the closest to firing the imagination of the American public than any candidate in recent years, but, I still wonder how it will all play out and whether he will in the end be a president who inspired and healed us or a candidate who disappointed.

    Fourth, for the record, we are not a democracy we are a republic. There is a big difference and good reason why we are this way. Our system of government, in my opinion, is a great design, but we’ve mucked it up a bit along the way. Even so, the process in general still works, until you begin to consider how many people can hack into electronic voting booths and change your vote without you knowing it. But again, I was not ever saying I expected perfection, just expressing my ambivalence about the candidates and their ability, given our current system, to really do anything than more of the same. We will see. I truly hope that I am wrong on this count and I hope I am wrong for the right reasons and not for disastrous ones.

    And, again, I can only say, that feelings do not equal behavior. I voted, I participated. I never said I was sitting on the sidelines, only that, at points, I felt like sticking my head in the sand. The reality is, the issues facing us are huge, the solutions complex and the ability to really find a viable solution is not nearly as simple as most people think. Anyone truly interested in seeking change, must first recognize that the process of authentic and lasting change will, at best, be difficult and complicated, for many,many reasons. It is not an easy fix. This doesn’t mean I shy away from it. It just means I recognize it and am, at times, overwhelmed by it. Maybe I didn’t express that clearly enough. And…if you read a bit between the lines…you might have detected a bit of unrest where I’m concerned about not being more active in the political process instead of feeling great about where I was.

    Oh, and what was that dig about “coming from a teacher no less”? What? I’m not entitled to have feelings of being overwhelmed with the task at hand just because I’m a teacher? Okay. That seems a tad bit unfair.

    Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now…and I’m glad you are hooked on blogs. They’re a great source of inspiration, thought and they can put you in touch with perspectives you never considered before. They are great fun!

    Cat

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  3. Unlike you, Ms. Cat, I devoted a significant amount of my time to the issues during the past election. I, too, voted for the past administrations, and was deeply disappointed at the performance vs. the promises there. I even “ckecked my elephant at the door” and left the party that so obviously had left “me.” Still, the principle for which I voted is valid, and very important to me.

    But as a realist, I also realized that not only were the promises made by each candidate not probable, they were patronizing and condescending. The rhetoric was whipped-up by campaign contorsionists with their thumbs on a dozen pulses, playing their game on a monopoly board of the nations issues, coniving and contriving messages to capture this group or that on election day for the sole purpose of winning the prize. Obscene amounts of money were spent to get each vote, and an even more obscene number of lies and distortions, attacks and personal innuendo put forth to achieve that purpose.

    The better candidate did not win in the end, only the better campaign. And now that the dust is settling, those hot-button issues are still there before us – and a euphoric electorate is standing there waiting for their “just reward.”

    When I decided who to vote for, it was less about the man, or whether their campaign had landed on my monopoly square, and more about the belief in that candidate’s leadership and ability to really deliver on their message.

    Ironically Cat, despite my giant sponge absorbtion of the past year’s debates, speeches, ads, analysis, commentary and incessant mailbox propaganda, I felt exactly like you when election day came. And when it came time to pull the lever, it had come down to this basic issue: do I trust the government to make my decisions for me, or do I trust myself? Am I o.k. with a hand-out to those who sit idly by with their hands out, waiting to be lifted upward tto some mythical promised land? or am I o.k. with rolling my sleeves up, working a little harder, and trusting in my own self reliance? And lastly, who will foster a regulatory environment that allows me that opportunity, and creates a society where our nation’s constitution, morals and principles stay intact, rather than systematically gutted to serve the narrow and often warped whims of each special interest group?

    In the end, I went with my gut. I voted Republican, although I am not one. And now that the majority of the nation’s voters, with the kool-aid drink stains fresh on their lips, voted otherwise, I accept the decision. And I will do three things in the coming years: 1.) withdraw my investment capital from the market, which will in it’s infetisimal way contribute to the slowing of our economy, 2.) work harder than ever to watchdog our constitutiona and individual rights from those who will try to legislate them away, and 3.) sit back and smile with a “told you so” snicker as this incoming administration and Congress screws the very people who put them into office.

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