"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Friday, October 29, 2004

Modus Vivendi

At what point must principle bow to practicality?

And at what point must it not?

I came to the rather lowering realization the other day that I haven't voted my conscience, by which I mean cast my ballot for the candidate whose platform and actions most closely reflect my ideals, since 1996. Instead, I've found that in almost every race there is one candidate who scares the bejeezus out of me and I simply cast my vote for whoever has the best chance of beating them. This isn't unusual, I'm sure--if you've never voted for the lesser of two evils, drop me a line. I'd like to buy you dinner.

But there is a soul-sucking quality to leaving the polling place after doing your civic duty, knowing that somewhere on your ballot was an unfilled dot (we still get paper ballots in my precinct, isn't it quaint?) next to the name of the best person for the job. But they didn't get your vote because Big Party Candidate A is the devil incarnate so you voted for Big Party Candidate B, who is merely slimy, in the hopes that the former won't get the chance to rewrite the Constitution or something equally appalling. And Minor Party Candidate C, who actually tells it like it is and wants to do good things, never had a chance because they didn't have a a multi-million-dollar war chest. Of course, if they did, they'd be a major party, with major-party concerns and major-party corruption, wouldn't they?

Then again, sometimes all of the candidates suck and voting is like throwing darts at a map to decide where you're going on vacation. You're as likely to end up in Akron as in Miami.

Should casting a vote be a matter of conscience, or a matter of strategy? We all have to decide that for ourselves, each and every time we step into the voting booth. It's a decision I struggle with more every election cycle. I used to wonder why someone eligible and able to vote would choose not to. I believe am beginning to understand. Disillusionment is the great demotivator.

But the fact of the matter is, if we all do nothing, nothing changes. If any one of us does nothing, they allow others to change things for them, and really have no right to object when the changes made aren't to their liking.

Throwing a dart at a map isn't a sure thing, but it's something. You've got a chance. You might end up somewhere wonderful.

I hear Akron is really nice this time of year.

More on this subject another day.

1 rejoinders:

Fourth pew, center sounded off...

The Brilliant Child has hit the nail right on its proverbial head -- if we all do nothing, nothing changes.
With apologies to, and the exception of, Paul Wellstone: a politician is a politician is a politician. They're all going to tell you as much as possible of what they think you want to hear. Sometimes that feeling that Candidate A is the devil incarnate is all we can go on. But even that is better than not caring at all, not doing anything at all.

And given the recent history of hurricanes -- I think Akron will be just fine.