Give Me Something to Believe In

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So today is election day here in the USA.  Where it is the most consequential mid term elections since … the last one.  Seems to be a pattern that every election is “the most important election”.  Is that really true or just some additional hype?  Guess we’ll never know because I’m not sure how you score the importance of an election.

Oh and don’t worry, I’m not about to get all political on you.  There are far better and far more entertaining blogs that can take care of that.  I just sit back and make random observations about things and hope that every know and then I write something entertaining.  Well, and sometimes I like to make deeper points which I may end up doing here as well.

If you are on a social media site, I’m sure your feed was loaded with people taking pictures of the little stickers they hand out and letting you know that they voted.  There is a part of me that sees this as nothing more than some virtual signaling and/or a cheap way to get “likes” because that is bound to happen.  I’m about 100% certain that some of the “likes” I got were from people who voted the opposite way.  Are they really that happy that I voted or are they just assuming I voted the same way that they did.  If they knew we cancelled each other out, would they withdraw the “like”.  These are the burning questions of the day.

OK, voting brings out the cynical idealist in me.  And, yes, that’s a thing.  I looked it up on Google and found an article so it must be true.  I grew up in a political home.  My parents didn’t lecture us on their beliefs but they were big into political activism and supporting the causes they believed in.  I shouldn’t use the past tense for Dad but he’s kind of home bound now so he can’t be as active as he used to be.  So, yes, I do feel something special about voting.  Can’t really explain why but, even when I’m not enthused about the choice (more on that later), I still go to the polls.  There is something to be sad for having some small voice in determining who gets to sit in those elected offices and pass laws telling us what to do.

But, we do all the hype about voting and how important it is and yet I wonder how many people really know all of the candidates on the ballot.  To be clear, I’m calling myself out here as well.  I don’t know school board people or clerk of the small claims court or several of the other small things on the ballot.  And, good luck trying to find out because our local newspaper only covers the races they think people care about.  You could go the various candidates websites but how much could you really trust of what you see there.  Voting is great but educated voters would be even better.

The cynic in me also doesn’t like that we only have two parties.  Technically, there are other parties that make the ballot and I’ve gone third party many times but they never really stand a chance of winning.  I don’t like the idea that we have a binary choice.  Red/Blue, Democrat/Republican, Liberal/Conservative, Right/Left.  Whatever words you want to use.  I know there are the true believers on both sides who support every plank of the platform but what about those of us who’d like to pick two from column A and three from Column B.  The idealist in me thinks more people are like that but the system gives you a binary choice.

Which just means that more often than not, I’m picking the lesser of two evils or focusing just on a couple of key issues and accepting the bad that comes with the good.  There have been a small number of times when I found candidates who I generally agreed with and who turned out to be highly competent and got things done that I liked.  But that’s rare.  So I look and say “who’s the least crazy”.

And the campaign ads and literature don’t help at all.  Every day in the mail we’d get 3-5 cards from candidates for various state offices.  All basically had the same theme “My opponent is evil and so you shouldn’t vote for them”.  It was funny to get literature from both sides that had pictures of the same candidate.  The flyer for his opponent had a black and white photo taken at an unflattering angle showing him with a big scowl on his face.  His flyer had a color photo where he had a big smile on his face and looked like a trustful little puppy dog.  This stuff shouldn’t work but it does.

I want someone to believe in.  Tell me what you stand for.  Don’t tell me that your opponent is Satan and the world will end if I vote for them.  Why do you want to scare me into voting for you.  Because you can’t spin a positive message to really give me reasons?  Because it is just easier to sling mud?  Because you really do think your opponent is Satan and must be destroyed?

Oh, and when they do tell you what they believe in, it is always vague.  “I stand for good schools and for the children”   “I stand for safe streets”  “I will fight for you”.  OK, now tell me how.  Connect the dots for me.  What is wrong with is currently happening and how do you plan to do things differently?  But you can’t fit that on a glossy card and it is too many words for people who have the attention span of a gnat.  Besides, I don’t have room with the scowling picture of my opponent taking up all the space.

Nasty and dirty and both sides love to sling the mud.  I remember my two brothers have a mud fight when they were younger and my Mom making them strip to their underwear outside in the middle of the neighborhood while she hosed them off.  (Mom didn’t mess around).  Kind of feel like that needs to happen after an election.

See, I may be wrong, but I kind of think that to solve the problems we have, you need to take from both sides.  The solutions are likely to be a mix of ideas from both sides because I don’t think either side has a monopoly on the good ideas.  But how do you work with the other side when you’ve spent the entire campaign tearing them down.  That’s where we are going.  It isn’t that other side is wrong.  It is that the other side is evil and that their plans would lead to some form of Armageddon.  Fear, fear, fear.  Vote for my side or your world will end.

Just kind of feel like sooner or later I’ll be asked to chose a side and I don’t want to.

So I didn’t have good choices but I still voted.  Not sure if things will ever change but I’m idealistic enough to believe they might and that if I sit home and do nothing, then I’m just letting the cynic win.


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