kaffyr: Princess Jellyfish goes to work (Reporting for duty)
[personal profile] kaffyr
 And Now, the Traditional (Pre) Election Day Rant.

(This is message I have been wont to broadcast indiscriminately over the last few years, any time an election appears on the horizon. Here it is again. I've amended and edited it slightly this time around because, as important as I once thought it was, it is unimaginably more important today; today, on Tuesday, and for the foreseeable future. I hope you take it seriously. Because Democracy, besides being as necessary as oxygen to the healthy human condition, is as serious as a kick in the teeth. Or childbirth, if we want a slightly less disturbing image.
    Mind you, Democracy is disturbing. So read, do, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.)

***********   *********   ************

 

Consider elections, my friends. And consider well what you do before elections, the day of elections, and in the weeks and years between elections. What you do is important. The actions you take will either save democracy or kill it.

You think that's hyperbole? Then you, with all due respect, are nincompoops.

First, if you aren't registered to vote ... dear god, there's so much I could say, but ... well, at the least, do this: Promise yourself, and me, that you will register the day after this election, and vote the next time out.


If you are registered, then vote. Just that simple, just that direct. Vote. Get up early and do it before work. One day of the working week, get yourself up an hour earlier, so that you can do it. If you can't get up early, make sure you get out of work and get to your polling place before they shut the door. Punch straight ticket, or split your vote, do it by paper, or by screen. Just do it.

Do it even if you aren't enamored of all your choices, even if you don't think it's an election that matters. Mind, if you don't think this election's important, I'm at a bit of a loss. The truth of it is, it always matters. Calling an election unimportant doesn't make it so. Nor does it let you off the hook. 


Voting matters. It always matters.

So. Find at least one race that will affect you; make a choice, even if it is the lesser of two evils. Often "the lesser of two evils" turns out to be one of two things - "better than one expected," or "helping keep the greater of two evils out." In either case, your vote is important.

Voting matters. It always matters.

A political meme that still inexplicably enjoys some coin puts forth the idea that a) one's vote doesn't count and b) one's vote is important enough to be withheld from the ballot box as a form of protest.

The illogic inherent between the front and back end of that message is staggering. If you want to sound like some first year Business Communications major/French Lit minor trying to impress a potential roll in the hay with your world-weary political sophistication, go ahead and believe it. (If you are a Business Comm/French Lit student and understand the stupidity of that little conceit, my apologies.) If, on the other hand, you're an adult ....

The only person who pays attention to an "unvote" is the campaign strategist for the winning candidate; she's the one who's glad her opponent's candidate was the beneficiary of every single unvote not in the ballot box.

 If votes don't count, we're to blame. Make them count again. Try showing up and voting, each and every election, in a way that we* haven't been regularly doing for 20 plus years. Bet you a nickel that they start counting again.

Voting matters. It always matters.

And after you've voted, don't walk away. You didn't think your responsibilities ended with the election canvass, did you? Our biggest job as citizens is just beginning.

We have a responsibility to keep ourselves informed on issues, even the ones we don't care about, because they can still be important. We must pay attention to what our elected representatives are doing, what they're saying, what laws they're drafting or co-sponsoring, what committees they're on,

That's not difficult, friends. The information is out there, and easy to get, via C-Span, the news, and our elected representatives' own offices. Oh, and this; Teh Intarwebz, where those representatives can be checked out via their sites and others. (What, you thought it was just LOLcats and porn?)

Pay attention. Think about what you're paying attention to. Decide whether you think it's good or bad. Then use your phones, your emails, your "send" button (I used to mention faxes, but I'll relegate faxes to the shelf where we put rotary dial AT&T phones, Zenith 15" black and white televisions and oil lamps.) Let our elected representatives - at all levels - know what we think of their performance, their votes, their comments, how they're doing on subcommittees, etc. We have to tell them what we want them to do for us and for the country.

 In short, we must hold our reps' feet to the fire. Surprisingly, it works. They pay attention when we do that; take it from someone who's watched the system. Even the less than stellar ones will pay attention.

But that's hard work, you say.

No shit.

Of course it's hard. It takes time. And it takes thought. And in my long years as a human, I believe I can say with certainty that we humans are really impatient, and we often don't like to think.  But it doesn't mean we can get away with not doing it. Because we have to do it. That's how we humans must and should interact with our very human representatives.

How? Try this with your elected official  - even if you just speak with an assistant, be assured the message will get through:

 "Ma'am, I want you to refrain from grandstanding. I support you on these things, so you don't have to play to me. Please listen to your opponents; try to change their minds with logic, don't ambush them in front of the cameras. Be brave enough to oppose them when you know you should, even if it's not a popular stand. But please, work with them if you feel it's necessary. Tell me why you're doing either of those things. Explain clearly and, for the love of heaven be honest with me. Please pay attention both to my streets and to the bills you vote on, because you're there to look after my local and my national interests. I'll respect you more if you do these things than if you don't. And please expect more calls from me. Thank you."

First we vote, then we hold them accountable. 

Voting matters. What follows matters. It all matters.

You matter.

Act like it.

Vote.


*And by "we" I mean Americans mainly, and Canadians secondarily; North American voting percentages have declined abominably over the the last 20 years.

Date: Monday, 5 November 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
kerravonsen: The words of Martin Niemoller, about Nazi Germany. (civil-liberties)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
One reason I am so glad I live in Australia: compulsory voting.
Because voting isn't a right, it's a duty.
And if one fails that duty, then it's fair enough to pay a fine. I've done so myself, when I forgot to vote in the local council elections once. And I paid it cheerfully.
Alas, other countries' citizens tend to be horrified at the idea.

Date: Wednesday, 7 November 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: map of Australia: "Home land" (Australia)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
I'm beginning to think the Australian option is the one way to force grow a sense of responsibility.

(nods) Knowing that one has to vote is enough to make one think, even if only a little bit, about what the government is doing. Because one doesn't have to decide whether or not to vote, one can get on with thinking about who to vote for.
It's also my impression that politics here tends to be less extreme than in the US; that it's the swinging voters who are courted, not the extremists. Not that our politicians are better than any other politicians - they're all snakes. Mind you, most of them do want to do what they think is best for Australia... it's just that they differ in what they think is a good way of going about that.

Talking about the Australian option was a great way to have some meaningful conversations with interviewees. Thanks!

You're very welcome!

Date: Monday, 5 November 2012 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lonewytch.livejournal.com
I know that what i'm about to say isn't the point of your message, but as a Brit i am keeping my fingers crossed and desperately hoping for you and the world that Obama wins.

Date: Monday, 5 November 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wendymr.livejournal.com
Hear Hear!

I'm not in the US and therefore have no vote in this election - but this is a message that everyone who is in the US should read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.

(And another one rooting for Obama).

Date: Monday, 5 November 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marence.livejournal.com
Hello, preacher! Choir member here!
I have been exercising my right to vote since 1978.
12 years ago, the man I loved started to bitch about politics. I asked if he was planning on voting. Imagine my surprise when I found that my intelligent, supposedly politically aware guy had NEVER REGISTERED TO VOTE. I pulled out my old hand-made button from the 80s that says "If You Don't Vote, You Can't Bitch" and explained. I took him downtown to register later that day.
Well, we're married now, and for the past 12 years he's been increasingly mouthy about politics, and does most of it on Facebook. I'm amused by his pride about this. Last night's quote: "I gave them FACTS. And they unfriended me."

Date: Monday, 5 November 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-phoenixdragon.livejournal.com
Thank you for this. And hear, hear!!

Though I must say, the LOLCats and porn this election on the Interwebs are more right than wrong on the issues O_o...

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