Election Day

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I dislike talking about politics so why am I going to write about elections? I don’t know. I’ve got a few things to say so why not say them. We didn’t have a big ballot because it is an “off year”. Just the mayor and city council and a local school tax increase. I happen to live in the Midwest part of the US and the stereotype is that were are just “nice”. The South is polite but we are “nice”. I think that tends to reflect here where we basically get bland candidates for local offices. But I prefer middle of the road to the extremes so that doesn’t bother me.

I’ll say something controversial here. There are a lot of people who want to make voting easier. Me, I want to make it harder. I mean a republic only survives when people make informed choices and I don’t really want people just stumbling into a polling place and checking a box for a party because that’s what they always do.

The problem is that it becomes very hard to be an informed voter in local elections. Our local paper is one of many owned by the USA Today monopoly. They will do a few stories about issues but most of the paper is really just glorified click bait. They did a full investigation of parking garage accidents the other day. The opening was that people think of these as freak events but they had gone back 20 years and found somewhere around 40 some events (don’t quote me on that number). Seems to me that with all the parking garages around the country being used every day, something that happens twice a year is pretty much the definition of a freak event.

But this is the job of the media these days. Not to inform but to alarm. There is always something wrong and something must be done to fix it. You aren’t safe out there unless someone writes a bunch of new rules and starts enforcing them. Not saying they aren’t always wrong but when everything is a crisis, then nothing is.

And you could go the candidates websites and read about what they want to do although it is often long on promises and short on specifics. For example, I was handed a flier for one of the candidates today and he promised to stop the three year trend we’ve had in murders. I don’t know where we rank but I know its a problem. Of course he didn’t provide any details about how he was going to end it. Also, what is kind of funny about the wording is he’s focused on the last three years which just happens to overlap with the mayor from the other party. Go back another year or so and the last mayor was from his party so there couldn’t have been a problem then.

At the end of the day, I voted for the challenger. And the only reason for doing so is that the roads around my house have been a complete mess for years. We live in an area with many freeze/thaw cycles and so many roads are always falling apart. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why but to me one job of local government is to fix the local roads. You can’t do it, well lets try someone else. Yeah, I know that’s not much of a reason but all the other things they spouted were just bland promises that weren’t that different from each other. Remember, we like plain vanilla politicians around here.

And there was a local school thing. All about how we need to pay more taxes to upgrade the schools because if we don’t have good schools, nobody will move in. First of all, I don’t trust school administrators to manage money and I suspect they’ll end up only getting half of what they promised done if they get the increase. Secondly, the young families who want better schools also want new houses and they are going to move to the surrounding suburban counties because they still have land to build lots of new cookie cutter houses. But I voted for it anyway. I’m not sure we are doing a great job of educating kids these days but it is probably harder to do with less money.

I got a text message from our current mayor this morning telling me he had already voted and encouraging me to go vote. Not sure how the campaign got my cell number and tied it to my address because they gave me the right place to go vote. I wanted to text back and say I voted but not for him but I thought that would be mean.

One thing about “off year” elections is that they are nice and quiet. When I was working, I would always vote when the polls opened. Now that I’m not working, I didn’t have to worry about that. So I went to the gym and then voted after that. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes and it only took time because we had a new system and they had to do some things to get it set up for me.

Next year, the election is not going to be nice. I’m not looking forward to it. I really wish we had more than two political parties. Technically, we do and I’ve voted third party a lot but it really does come down to the two big parties. Its a big country with lots of opinions and we need more than two choices. And it feels like both parties exist to keep us apart. Their main goal is to turn out the people who are super dedicated to them. But they rarely do that by promoting what they stand for. It is more likely that they stoke fear in their base about all the nasty things that will happen if the other party gets into power. And both parties are equally guilty of using these “wedge issues”. Which is why political parties basically suck.

It is like the whole crime thing that one candidate claimed he was going to solve without providing specifics. I happen to believe that the problems we face are complicated but the parties just want to provide simple solutions. The reality is we should accept solutions and ideas from everywhere. The answer isn’t blue or red but more than likely purple. I don’t entirely know how well other places function when you have minority parties that actually win seats but it seems like there is always talk of having to build coalitions. Here, the party that is in power in a particular place only pushes their own ideas which never go anywhere because the other party usually has enough seats to keep anything from happening. And then blaming the party in power for everything.

Anyway, I shouldn’t go on too much more about this. I guess because I grew up in a politically active family, voting just becomes something I feel like I need to do. Even if the system kind of sucks, I just can’t see sitting out.

And now that I’ve totally depressed myself, I’ll leave with a bit of music. Weird little song here. It was a Duran Duran side project when they got bored making music together and took a little break. Frankly, I liked the Power Station better but this song by Arcadia fits for obvious reasons.

Maybe a little less poppy than a Duran song but not by much.

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