An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Does Voting Work?

This is the question that has bee wracking my mind since I first registered to vote back when I was 19.  I was registered in the 2008 year, when I was excited to be a part of the political system.  This decision carried a lot of weight.  But then I was starting to really get into the act of getting to know the system that I was voting in, the people I was voting for.  Learning the specifics of this country, and what made it flow.

Now, before that time, I had been a man who kept up on current events, but I never really dug all that deep into things.  I was young.  But this was the point where the political ideas that I have that guide a lot of who I am were developing.  My growth was a person has been guided by the late nights that I and my late fiance had discussing things.  Her passing marked an occasion where I was sitting up alone, pondering this.  The nights alone have been long indeed.

After becoming more aware of the system, the flaws and the failures, I gradually started to get the viewpoint that America is broken, on many levels.  The absolute corruption of this government is visceral.  Our politicians are bought and paid for.  The legislation that is getting passed is absolutely worthless.  This isn’t just hyperbole.  This isn’t just stating things and making no evidence.  I could go into exhaustive detail about how legislation is obviously biased toward one side, the corporate side.  It can’t be argued at this point.

But I continued to vote, for one reason – the belief that on some level, maybe not the national level, but maybe at the local level, I could make a difference.  My vote couldn’t affect anything substantial on a national level, since the options there were absolutely just corporate shill A or corporate shill B.  But maybe, on a local level, I could change things.  This belief has fallen away.

There has been an event here in the city I live, Anchorage, Alaska.  This event has shaken my very beliefs about not only the merits of democracy, but also the voting public in general.  It was a municipal election.  I won’t go into too much detail, since I have already talked this point to death.  Quite simply, there was a Proposition to get rid of a landlord or employer’s ability to descriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation, which according to the state’s current Title 5, they can.

The Prop didn’t pass, and anyone who has been following this tragic affair as it has been unfolding knows, it was a complete and utter fraud.  What happened that day was no accident, as was reported in the Anchorage Daily News.  The linked article and many others all over Alaska have shown that this was deliberate rigging of an election.  And what has been the recourse?  Nothing.  Almost nothing has been done.  The Anchorage voters are just being told by the Anchorage Assembly to just accept it, and move on.

We are being asked to accept an election that has been proven to be fraudulent.  That has been proven to be rigged.  We are being told that this is just something we should allow.  Not by all the Assembly members, of course.  Elvi Gray-Jackson was thankfully willing to say that there needs to be an outside investigation.  But her voice is among the tragic few.  The public has been voicing their being appalled at this.  The public (to a point), has said that this is so absolutely awful.  Yet the public has gone unheeded, and nothing is being done.  Nothing substantial.  There should be an investigation by the ACLU.  There should be another election.  This whole dilemma should be having this whole process be declared invalid, because the people do not accept it.  And yet, nothing is being done.  Hopefully, maybe, something will be done, but as of right now, we are just being asked to accept it, and move on.

This whole affair has left my faith in what little I could believe in when it came to the system of this country’s government shaken, and after reading that article that I linked above, I have come to the conclusion to the question in the title.

No, voting does not work.

Now, let me explain my position, because I am not just going to make the usual “it’s the system, man!” arguments.  I am not going to be like, “it’s all these corrupt politicians, man!” statements, because I believe the problem goes deeper than that.  But before I do go into it, let me put some context as to what I know a person who opposes my position believes.

My friend Heather believes that through voting, you have a voice in government.  There was a time when I believed that argument, and went with her on it, too.  However, examining the way things work in this government, it isn’t so simple.

Every election cycle, the people will talk about the politicians and how corrupt the system is.  That’s true, but nobody ever cuts to the meat of the existential nut – why?  Why is the system so unbelievably rigged?  Why does Corporate America have such a strangle-hold on America’s politics?  You see, the truth is that one of the reasons that I don’t see voting as worthwhile is because none of the options are any better than the other.

Let’s take a look at the Presidential elections that are coming up.  We have Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate, and Barack Obama as the current President running against him.  Mitt Romney is against abortion, and all sorts of other talking points of the Republican Party that we have seen for years.  But what about President Obama?

Well, he has pretty much franchised Guantanamo Bay.  Health Care Reform was a birthday present to the private insurance companies.  He backed and even asked for the amendments to NDAA that stipulated that American citizens can now be held indefinitely without trial or charge.  He gave the Republicans even more than they had asked before with the continuation of the Bush Tax Cuts.  The debt ceiling agreement he came to was obscene.  This man has shown himself to be an absolute turncoat to his own principles.  If, of course, he actually had any to begin with.  If you follow his campaign, there was a lot of talk about “hope,” but never much about what was to be done.

So, on one side, a corporate shill who is rolling back progress one “compromise” at a time, and on the other side, a corporate shill who wants to roll back progress one “victory” at a time.  That is who we have.  And the senators and representatives we elect are no better.  To get anywhere in politics in this country, you need corporate backing.  This is the system we live in.  So, if voting is your voice, then your voice is kind of limited.  Limited between Corrupt Option A and Corrupt Option B.  And who is to blame for that?

The biggest reason that I have decided that I am done voting is because the fact is that if you want to know the real reason for the system in this country being such a complete and utter failure – the voting public.  The fact is that the public, both liberal and conservative, has failed this country, and I don’t hold the politicians responsible for what has gone wrong.  I will complain about what they do, but I fully understand that the public is enabling these people.  The public in this country at large has become so complacent and so docile and pedicured that it doesn’t matter who you vote for.

The voice of the people has been channeled.  There will be those who will come and say, “but we can elect better people into office.”  Time was, I might have believed that.  But now, we have a people who, at their core are selfish, entitled and don’t even bother following what the issues are.  Liberals and conservatives are guilty of just getting onto a bandwagon, never stopping to question why, or what that bandwagon stands for.

So if voting is using ones voice, then the voice of this country should be silenced.  I take George Carlin’s position

But where do people think these politicians come from?  They don’t fall out of the sky.  They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality.  They come from American parents, American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities.  And they’re elected by American citizens.  This is the best we can do, folks!  This is what we have to offer.  This is what our system produces.  Garbage in, garbage out.

He is absolutely right.  The public is absolutely worthless and toothless, and because of that, we have rampant corruption because the politicians aren’t scared.  But nobody wants to hear that.  America doesn’t like it when a mirror is shined at them in a not so flattering way.  That’s against the American way.

A government should be legitimately afraid of its people.  There should be some fear that if they don’t fly right, the people will rise up and put them in their place, even if violence is how that has to happen.  But this government doesn’t have that.

There are no decent politicians and systems that are waiting, just that one vote away.  Our system produces people in it only for themselves, and not caring about everyone else.  This isthe best we can do.  So I reject the notion 100% that voting is your voice.  Your voice is gone, replaced by the options you pick.

With that in mind, like Carlin, I am staying home on the next election cycle, and I can complain because I didn’t help put these people who are making this mess into office.  I didn’t contribute to this problem.  Rather, I am here, trying to talk to all of you, and trying to tell you that there has to be a greater change in our way of thinking before I will be back to the polls.  And should it come to pass, I will be first in line.  That is a guarantee.

But don’t count on it.  This country is too busy watching Glee, and shopping at the mall.  It’s the American way.  They say that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.  I reject that notion.  People who see evil and do nothing aren’t good.

They are merely…patriotic.

Peace out,

Lefty

(as an endnote, I want to make it clear that I respect Heather’s position, and that this is my own position.  Above anything and everything, I ask that you come to your own conclusions.  Don’t take what I say as gospel.  This column’s dedication above all else is to be about having people think, on their own.  If you disagree, post a comment, and I won’t reply, but I will put it up)

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