Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#12 Voting

[I vowed never to make a political post, but I think, really, this post is resolutely apolitical, or at least politically neutral.]

Do you ever feel kind of icky when you're standing in that booth? Apart from the sincerely urinalistic feeling?

I mean I know our forefathers went through etc etc etc so we could have the privilege to whatever whatever whatever, but I mean honestly. We don't really genuinely ever really know who it is we're voting for, do we? I mean 99% of the people you vote for or against are people you've never even really heard of. And even when we do there isn't often any real correlation between the reasons people vote for X or Y and what actually happens with respect to those reasons. And people's reasons are, for the most part, completely ill-informed anyway. I'm not blaming people for being ill-informed. Hell, I'm ill-informed. And so is everyone else. Because really, in reality, it's kind of impossible to be well-informed on any particular data-driven issue (as opposed to "moral binary" issues like abortion and gay marriage, which, for the most part are not data-dependent or predictive, they're just judgment calls and I have no problem with making those because I don't need to understand anything to make them) over which there's controversy, because there are people who are way smarter than you (or me, or the politician running for office) who have devoted their lives to studying just this one particular thing (e.g., tax policy or the effect of CO2 on the climate or energy policy or international political and defense policy), and they disagree. Those people have way more information than you could ever hope to have or process and they disagree (and not because they're corporate hacks or self-delusional hippies despite what either side will tell you...for the most part all of these people have good faith reasons for believing what they believe). And why do they disagree? Because, really, these issues are, for the most part, unknowable. At least insofar as predicting what SHOULD be done about anything. No one really knows what's going to happen if, say, we have public healthcare, or alternatively, if we don't. And yet everyone gets so riled up over the thing. The thing they don't really know or understand or could possibly understand because the whole system is way more complex than it is possible TO understand.

And that's assuming that you know, when you vote, how those names on the thing relate to the issues you've made these arbitrary decisions about, and that the people those names represent are actually going to behave in the way, vis a vis those issues, that you think they are going to. Which they aren't. And you, the voter, also probably don't know any of this anyway. I mean honestly, what do you or I really know about who should be the City Public Advocate or State Senator or Congressman or President or School Board Member and why? Most people who vote have no idea who they're voting for or why.

Which is fine, but it certainly doesn't fill me with a sense of pride in fulfilling my civic duty when I vote. Mostly it feels hypocritical or disingenuous or as I said, icky. But you're not supposed to feel that way. You're not allowed to not like voting. Rock the Vote, Choose or Lose, participate in the great American Democracy, the great debates of our time.....by punching little holes in this card for people you don't know, based on opinions you don't understand, and odds of predictive accuracy that favor the house big-time and in a way that is completely insignificant statistically anyway. That just sets off my internal absurdity-meter. Voting is annoying and impotent and kind of ridiculous when you think about. It should be OK to admit that, instead of participating in this gigantic denial-fest where everyone takes the opportunity to not only applaud themselves, but get in your face about what you should do and how you should feel about it.

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