Monday, June 2, 2014

Why I Vote

This morning in California we are having an inconsequential election.  They are predicting record levels of voter apathy: a mere 25 to 32 of the electorate is expected to turn out.

No pot, no sex, no taxes to speak of.  No structural changes likely to screw things up for the next quarter century (think Proposition 13).  No options for doing anything positive either. 

We are voting for Jerry Brown, yet again.  We are voting for Nancy Pelosi in my district.  You think voter turnout is going to make a difference? Nah.  There's a superior court judge, but how much does your average voter know about that, anyway.  Secretary of State?  It's a ceremonial post in California. It's like being the queen without a butler or castles, or a budget to lord over.  Superintendent of Public Instruction?  I'm voting for the guy from Los Angeles--but really, the fate of the world does not hinge on it.  It's a primary for heaven's sake. 

We do get to vote to fund some veteran housing, that's decent.  We also get to shift the cost of complying with public records laws from the state to the local level.  Whoopee! Do they really need me for that?  

Yet, I spent a morning dutifully reading through my voter pamphlet.  I went on the internet to find out just how inconsequential this election really is.  

And tomorrow morning, we'll get up at 5:30 a.m. to help the poll workers set up the polling equipment in our garage.  We'll bring them coffee and almond croissants.  We'll care about the fact that most of our precinct won't show up at our door tomorrow.  We'll be sad about it.  

Yet, why care with such a trivial election?

Well, truth be told, I like to vote.  I like exercising my franchise.  I was not born in this country, I don't take it for granted.  I don't like garbage in the park either.  It bothers me to see a discarded cup.  I'm liable to stoop down, pick it up gingerly, and put it in the trash.  Is it a civic duty?  In Australia they have mandatory voting.  Here, we'd never get Republicans to agree to such a concept--they'd be screwed.  Is that reason enough to vote.  It's sufficient for me.  I'll poke a chad to spite the memory of Katherine Harris (she of Bush v. Gore infamy).  I'll mark an arrow to spite Scalia and his cronies on the Supreme Court.  

Nothing I do will make a difference in any election, and certainly not in this one tomorrow.  Yet, I like being in a community where people vote.  I like being in a community where other people also  care about voting, care about exercising their civil rights.  I wish more took it seriously.  It's like garbage in the park.  I wish fewer dropped a cup. 

What about you, tomorrow?  Are you going to drop your Starbucks cup in the street, or are you going to stand up proud and say "To hell with Katherine Harris, to hell with the Supreme Court!  I'm going to exercise my franchise right, and I'm going to do the best I can, and I'm going to revel in the sheer pleasure of it.  Because damn it, I love this country!"  

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