Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Should I Vote in 2008?

Seriously, I wonder what the point is.

Let me preface this by saying that I never would have thought I would ever think like this. Such a question used to hit me as the most unpatriotic thing a person could consider. Flag burning and draft dodging have their place as far as I was concerned, but the ballot was sacred. To not put a marked card into a slot, or press a button to deliver an opinion, this was the highest sacrilege, as bad as burning the original constitution or moving to Canada.

Basically, I used to care who won the elections, specifically the presidential ones. Every four years it was exciting to see who would get their party's nomination, who said what, the promises that were made, the characters revealed, the stump speeches delivered, it was all so interesting to me. I was a Democrat and believed that my party could change things and that it was always right, and everyone else simply had to be educated to understand why they were wrong. This is after all, the opinion of anyone who identifies with any party. It is the belief of anyone who holds Liberal Democracy dear to their heart, that reason and discussion will lead to change, and change for the better. Education and discourse are all you need.

But as I saw how the Democrats lost their spine during the Clinton years and under the Bush presidency, I wanted to supposed another party. Certainly it was not going to be the Republicans, whose hypocritical religious stances I could never support. I believed in radical change. I believed the system was rotten, so in 2004 I voted for Nader. I knew he had a long shot in winning, but I wanted to at least vote my conscience. So many liberals I knew did otherwise and even though they compromised during that election, they still lost.

I thought the solution was supporting a third party. But the system seems to be so stacked up against the formation of any new political entity that could seriously challenge the Demopublican machine. it is so hard for new parties to get ballot access, media exposure, funding, and to be allowed to debate on national television. Willpower isn't enough. One of the major parties has to self implode. That was how the Republicans got started, in the collapse of the Whigs in the 1850s. Maybe it could happen in the Republican Party, as I explained in my essay, 'End of a Marriage" and it could always occur for the Democrats, who have a much broader tent, so to speak.

Still, that leaves me dependent on two parties and what they think the major issues should be. If it is not on their agenda, it does not exist. Between the parties I see no difference on Iraq, as much as the Democrats claim to want to get out, no difference on political reform, and fundamentally no improvement for the working classes of this country addressed by them. Getting rid of the stupid electoral college and granting real rights to people in DC and those who have served their time in jail never enter their radar screen. It's all about gay marriage and looking tough on terrorism and soft on immigration.

I know I'm not alone. Most Americans generally don't vote, especially in the primaries and in congressional elections. These are the worst, it is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent, unless they literally unseat themselves with a wide stance like senator Craig of Idaho, or put their foot in their mouth like George Allen (I suppose Va. senators are cursed with running lackluster campaigns, unless they were married to Elizabeth Taylor). But the Presidential race looks depressing despite it being full of promise.

Why? Two things. First there is no one from the two major parties who is either running again for the presidency, or was vice-president (baring Al Gore entering the race). this means that everyone is able to run on their own records and will face competition within their ranks. Second we have had such a bad eight years under this administration (there really is not any precedent for how incompetent Bush is, he should be impeached for Iraq or Katrina alone, but this again proves my theory about the weak spines of the democrats) that for the first time in years, Americans are angry enough to have real change happen.

But the candidates that have forward are depressing. The Republicans can't either be trusted (Mitt Romney with his false conservative credentials) or have sold out (McCain, there is a reason his campaign does not have the momentum of 2000, when I was depressed he failed to carry Va.) or do not offer any significant challenge to the status quo established by the Bush administration. Stay the course seems to still be the party line.

The democrats have failed to produce anyone with a real vision for this country. Worse, it seems Hillary Clinton is in the lead. This is disastrous for the Democrats. We need change. We need someone from outside the Beltway to tighten it and make it fit this country's needs better. She is more of the same. We cannot go back to the 1990s, and we shouldn't. There are a lot of problems we face today because we let them simmer during the Clinton years. I hate so-called liberals who praise her pragmatism. Pragmatism in the absence of real idealism is hollow electioneering. When power becomes its own ends, rather than a means to an end, nothing ever changes. The other candidates for the most part are the same, with the except of Kucinich and Gravel, the latter is too old, sorry to say, and the former does not give off the kind of charisma necessary to make major change happen. We need a radical version of Reagan, no more Dukakises. Sadly none have come forward.

Obama has potential and if he wins the nomination, I might vote for him. He's a freshman senator, he doesn't have the most experience, but Cheney & co. had plenty of it and look how fine they have been for us. But an Obama - Hillary ticket I just couldn't stomach. unfortunately this appears to be the most likely outcome, since the media likes to do everything they can to make this seem inevitable. Maybe if it is a really close election I'll go out and vote, and even then, only if it is a sunny day. No use feeling limited in your options while standing in the rain.