An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Voting’

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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Liberals are Nazis! And other cheap tricks to get their base to the polls

Remember the good old days, when the increasingly irrelevant Glenn Beck was on the air and he was talking about how the liberals were going to start FEMA death camps and how the socials marxist communists were going to come for your guns and have euthanasia be required?  Well, those sorts of conversations still go on all over the country.  Fox News has been carrying the torch for the “liberals are coming for you” rhetoric.

Of course, the reason why they are using this rhetoric is simple – to get their base to the polls.  George Bush II won the 2004 elections because Karl Rove was a brilliant tactician (along with Kerry not calling Bush out, at all) who used the bigotry of these people as a weapon, by bringing up gay marriage in states that everyone knew weren’t going to pass it.  Much like Prop. 5 here in Anchorage, once you say the word “gay,” the bigots flock to make sure their bigoted opinions are known.

However, there is a problem in the Republican Party.  The base is dying.  They have alienated almost every single group.  Minorities, for the most part, left their bandwagon years ago.  The LGBT community won’t have anything to do with them.  The latest war on women has officially gotten them away from the party too.  So, if you only have middle to senior-aged white men as your base, what do you do?  The answer is easy – subvert democracy by rigging voting.

Voter suppression is nothing new in America, of course.  Back when this country was founded, only the wealthy white men got to vote.  Minorities and women were fresh out of luck there.  And there are plenty of Republicans who are trying to get back to that.  Don’t believe me?  Well, the evidence speaks for itself.

34 states have passed or are working to pass laws that make it so that voters have to show photo IDs.  15 states have passed or are working to pass laws that say you have to have your birth certificate or passport to be able to vote.  16 states have or are working to pass laws would end same-day voter registration. 9 states have passed or are working to pass laws to end early voting.  4 states are working to pass laws to get rid, outright, of absentee voting.  3 states have passed laws that restrict voter registration drives.  All of this work has been done in the last year.

The mission goal is pretty clear – stop people from getting to the polls.  Their tactics are decisive and swift.  This isn’t something that can be debated, because we are seeing it happen now.  Over 21% of Americans don’t have government-issued ID’s.  The bulk of the people who don’t are minorities, the elderly, and college students.  Care to guess where most of them vote?  They generally vote liberal.

It has even been seen on a scale that nobody pays attention to.  Here in Anchorage, Alaska, the latest municipal election was obviously a fraud.  The voting booths ran out of ballots is how it all went down.  However, in spite of this clear violation of the law, there aren’t going to be new elections, or even an outside investigation.  The Assembly simply decided to accept what has happened, and are telling everybody to basically just move on.  This is unacceptable.

However, it is efficient, and in a country where the conservative party is rapidly dying on its feet, this is what it has to do in order to maintain power.  They know that they can’t win this upcoming presidential election on fair terms, because not only will the disheartened liberals like myself side with Obama out of the principle of not having Romney put in office, but the GOP voters at large have no love for Romney, since he has proven that he is a flip-flopping croney capitalist who doesn’t believe in anything.

This is what the future of America is looking like.  Instead of politics being a rational and reasonable discussion of values and what is to happen next, we instead get to listen to rhetoric on one side that liberals are all nazis coming to kill you, and conservatives are…well, actually, the rhetoric about them is true.

They want to subvert democracy to keep themselves in power, and the money flowing into only a few people’s hands.

Peace out,

Lefty

Why People Don’t Vote

There is an unfortunate trend in this country.  It is a trend that most people are not happy about in the slightest, and wish that it would go away.  It is easy to observe this trend with people because if you ask most people about it, it is easy to understand why they feel that way.  The trend is that people are sick of politics because of how unpleasant it is.  It used to be, back in the 90’s, that the real issues of importance in this country to the liberal community, like legalizing pot, gay marriage, gun rights, etc. were able to be talked about.  But that isn’t the case anymore.  Nowadays, the case is that the liberal community is so busy trying to keep the insanity of the conservatives in this country from being made into law that they are unable to even talk about the issues that matter. 

My friend, John Aronno, said it best, “the reason voting doesn’t work is because nobody does it.”  He is absolutely right.  The last municipal elections here in Anchorage had a 21% voter turnout.  That is just plain pathetic.  The average number of voters who turn out for municipal elections is roughly 20%.  Those numbers are just plain sad.  And what’s more, these elections matter.  The rather bigoted politicians in this city, like mayor Dan Sullivan, are kept in check by the Anchorage Assembly.  Of course, they still weren’t able to stop Sullivan from vetoing Ordinance 64 without a second though.  But at least they have the power to keep the man’s tendency to legislate taste in check.  After the elections this year, we are lucky that, while the number of progressive candidates is not as high as it was, and should be, there is still enough swing to stop the bulk of Sullivan’s ideas.

And he needs to be kept in check.  Thanks to the budget problems here in Anchorage, and Sullivan’s absolute committment to not raising taxes, we now have good detectives out on the street checking parking meters.  The crime rates in Anchorage reflect this.  In fact, aside from reassigning good cops, they are also cutting jobs in the police department.  It is not a fun topic to talk about.

The reason that people don’t vote is simple- there is no simple reason that people don’t vote.  Some don’t vote because they believe that politics is nothing more than two parties who are not for them.  And so, rather than trying to change the party system, they ignore it and hope that it will get better.  Some would call that protesting the system.  The intelligent call that being a coward and not wanting to face the truth.  Another reason is because they are sick of hearing all the constant bickering of politcal figures in this country.

Take a look on any major news network, it is easy to see why people believe this way.  It is on CSPAN all the time, and CNN, Fox, and MSNBC like to show it every day.  Every once and a while, the BBC, PBS, or any of the other not so corporate news networks get on the bandwagon (though not nearly as often).  We hear politicians in both houses of Congress yelling and bickering.  Each is calling the other a “traitor,” or “unAmerican.”  They scream till they are blue in the face, and in the end, who wins?  Not the American people, that’s for sure.

Another reason that is also very likely is the fact that people are ignored.  People have been screaming for years to end the wars that we have going on in the Middle East.  Rather than listen to the people, as they are supposed to do, they decide to start another war overseas with Libya (don’t say that it isn’t a war.  Military action is military action, and an act of war is an act of war).  People are now demanding to know why the politicians want to get rid of Medicare and turn it into a voucher system.  Are they going to listen then?  The people say to tax the rich, and of course, what do they do?  They stick the current economic burden on the poor.  It is all so pathetic that it hurts.  And people are starting to tune out.

A young man here at the college remarked that he would rather see an informed 21% of peope voting, rather than an ignorant 90%.  If only that was the case.  But that isn’t the case.  The case is that people are being manipulated and lied to, and the ignorant are the ones who are always in the majority of voting.  This is because the conservative elements of this country have a gift at being able to get their base out to vote.  It is something that the liberal community really could use a couple lessons on doing.  The liberal base is more or less uncaring about what happens. 

One could argue that the reason that most people don’t vote is a more or less good one- because overall, things in this country are pretty good.  And they would be right.  Things in this nation are pretty good.  But the fact is that we are at the crossroads of destiny when it comes to our nation’s political future.  Deny it all you like, but the fact is that this nation is facing the future, and if the government doesn’t listen to what economists, and the intellectual crowds are saying, that we cannot sustain our current economy, and it needs to be overhauled, then we may not be looking at such a pleasant future.  Sure, things are pretty good for the most part, but people need to realize that there is more at stake than that.

This nation is standing at the crossroads of destiny, and we are going to have to make a choice.  The sad fact is that while Obama may be a total failure for the liberal community, there are no other options on the table that look any better.  Would you rather see Donald Trump leading this nation?  It makes one quiver just to think about it.  So, it is time to get moving, or to pack up and go home, liberals.  Think about it.

Peace out,

Eli

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