Lisa came over to me with a somewhat excited yet serious look on her face, insisting that I turn down the TV. “It’s the Gallup Poll,” she explained. As much as we both wanted her to be the one to do it, their attempt at randomness pegged me (whoever had the most recent birthday). Why her? Well, I knew that in the end they would be asking whether or not you are likely to vote and I would have to say “No,” which could effect the way my answers would be used. And don’t bother asking why somewhat who despises Bush as much as I do won’t be voting – just accept it, or be prepared for a full-on lecture regarding my beliefs.
Anywho, it was an interesting experience. I’d say that my answers were a fairly good look at my political sway – a moderate liberal who considers himself Independent, but leans toward the Democrats and thinks that Bush is possibly the worst President ever. I said that if I were voting it would be for Kerry and that I endorse him, etc. About the only credit I gave to Bush was saying that he was a stronger and more decisive leader (which in my opinion is one of his failings). Other than that, on a scale of -5 to +5 I rated Bush’s performance a -5 and gave Kerry a +3 as for my own support.
The demographic questions at the end were interesting. They asked the usual age/race/religion type stuff, but also asked me about my favorite type of music and what kind of car I drive. I’m curious to see how that adds up. I was very intent on being honest, which is why I reluctantly had to say that the election means more than usual and that I think the country is headed towards the shitter if “my candidate” lost, but I still won’t be voting…
Overall, a cool experience, and I gave them permission to call me back for follow-ups. Lisa was commenting just the other night about polls and how “they didn’t ask her.” Well, now I can say that I was asked, and that my opinion, at least temporarily, mattered.
20 thoughts on “I’ve been Galluped”
I’ve been thinking about how to best answer you for the better part of my lunch break (which was difficult considering I was also busy “pre-ordering” GTA San Andreas at the time). But you deserve an honest response, and I’ll do my best to give you just that.
I don’t believe in the system. I don’t believe it works, and I don’t believe that it can be fixed. I believe that the entire ideal of democracy is flawed. And because of that, I feel that voting would be a betrayal of my own personal beliefs. It would be me giving into a system that I just don’t believe in.
But in the end, I do care about the results. They still affect me, and I can’t help that. So I do encourage those who do believe in the system to try to fix it. I will drive my girlfriend to the voting booth, and tell all of my friends to vote if they so desire. I have spoken with a number of undecided voters, and helped to sway many of their votes. I am working around the system in a way that I believe in – helping people to see things more clearly and to think for themselves. I feel that that is more important than my punching a hole out next to Kerry’s name.
I doubt this answer will really satisfy you or any others who question my decision. But understand that it is my attempt to reconcile my beliefs with the system I’m stuck in, and this year was the first time that such a decision was difficult for me. Perhaps someday I will reconsider, but for now I must follow myself.
And as for the rest of you, if you do still believe in the system, show it by taking part in it.
If you live in the City of Seattle, would you at least vote no on I-83. We desperately need rapid transportation and on this issue, yes the system is flawed, the bad guys bought signatures and are running high-priced lawyers and cable-TV ads, but a NO on I-83 will tell the bad guys that their methods stink and we still want the Monorail. Please!
Sorry Chas, but I’m on the East Coast, so I can’t help you there at all. But you, Michael, and Brady all brought up some interesting points about paying attention to local politics. If I’m still in the same area next election, perhaps I’ll see if making my mark on that level makes me feel right.
A friend of mine once suggested that I should run for office in Hoboken. My knee jerk reaction was “NEVER!” But then I thought he made some good points. And who knows where that would have led if I stayed there.
I can certainly understand the feelings behind this — in all honesty, I’m no great fan of much of our current system (a de facto two-party system based more on money than ideas, an electoral college that still strikes me as nothing more than wonky at best, and many other issues). The thing is, like it or not, it’s all we’ve got, and while it may not work well, it’s not going to work any better if people just declare it broken, throw up their hands in defeat, and walk away.
You could argue that you don’t want to participate by voting because it just supports the current system. Okay, that may be the case — but what good does not voting do? You may not be supporting an institution that you have problems with, but millions of other people are, and many of them have beliefs diametrically opposed to yours. By refusing to participate, you’re granting them that much more power over how you are allowed to live your life.
In fact, I could easily see arguing that by not participating, you’re supporting the current broken system more than if you did come out and vote, precisely because you who disagree with how things are currently run aren’t making your voice heard — and those that are in power, those that bend, break, and twist the system to their own means, end up carrying the day yet again.
As goofy as I often find the Libertarian and Green parties to be, many of them also believe that there are problems with the current system, only they’re working to change it — and after the events of 2000, I’d hardly be one to dismiss them as “fringe” elements unworthy of consideration. There’s a strong argument to be made that the Green party was a major factor in the outcome of the 2000 elections — and while it wasn’t their candidate that eventually won, and while it’s quite possible that their influence may have contributed to the mess we’re in now by helping Bush gain his seat in office, the fact remains that these are people who saw something wrong with the system as it was, wanted to make a change, and spent years working towards that change. I may not like that particular end result, but I can respect that they were trying to do what they saw as best for the country.
Affecting a system as entrenched as ours certainly isn’t a minor undertaking, of course. The Green and Libertarian parties have both been around for years, but as of late, they’re a factor — not a factor likely to win a major election, sure, but certainly a factor with the potential ability to affect an election — a major step in itself. Had all of these people done what you do — stayed home, given up, kept their mouths shut — than they wouldn’t even be affecting things as much as they are.
(Okay, yes, I realize that given the possibility that had Nader and the Green party not been a factor in the 2000 elections Gore might be President, some may use that as a reason why it would have been better if the Green party had stayed quietly at home. That’s not the point I’m arguing here, though.)
In the end (before I ramble any more than I already have), for me, it simply boils down to this: is staying quiet and abstaining from the vote really doing any more good than voting for those people that you truly think can do the best job of moving things in a direction you’d be happier with?
i don’t see why someone should take your political views seriously if you aren’t willing to punch the little circle. or advocate anarchy, advocate overthrow of the government if you like. otherwise, it’s all talk and no actions behind it. it’s whining.
i just want to point out this simple logical flaw.
1. you claim to have the right to complain thanks to the first amendment.
2. the first amendment is a part of the system.
3. you refuse to vote because you don’t believe in the system.
can it get any more obvious? if you want the rights, you bear the responsibility of protecting those rights. hey, guess what? the first amendment is being threatened. so are many more civil rights you probably believe you’re entitled to. you probably even know that. and you’re going to throw your two cents at the blogosphere and at your friends, but throwing your two cents at the government isn’t worth your time?
you’re basically advocating driving around in a car with thin belts and flat tires and low oil. you could get off your ass and help to change the belts and air up the tires and put some oil in the system, but you’d rather just let the system get worse.
listen, if you’re not going to stand up and do the bare minimum to protect your rights or make that stupid lemon of a car run any better, i’m here to tell you that all the big corporate guys and the guys they make sure get elected sure as hell won’t.
and neither will i.
blame my bushism on monday almost-the-end of work.
neither will i = i’m not going to watch out for your ass as much as anyone else will, i’m watching out for mine.
blah. go vote.
Michael – Thanks for the well thought out reply. I’m sure this idea is just bugging you, but I appreciate how much you’ve put into keeping a level head in this discussion. And it boils down to this: I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. I applaud everything that those “fringe” groups have worked towards. Those are the people truly working towards what they believe is a better ideal. And as much as I lay blame for the 2000 fiasco on them, at least they were trying.
And your correct, my voting would do no harm. It would not push the government over the edge and make them realize that they’ve beaten us down. But personally, I would not feel satisfied. It would feel like an empty gesture simply to be able to say, “Well at least I voted.” And that would cheapen the action as well as myself. Still, I don’t rule it out for the future, and I will continue to encourage those who believe that it can be fixed (or at least patched) to get out there and vote.
Kirsten – Don’t worry, I got the gist of what you were trying to say. My beliefs aren’t exactly a logical paradox. “The system” of which I speak is more regarding the way we elect officials and the way they govern us – not the way it (should) protect what I consider to be inalienable rights. So yes, I will continue to hide behind the First Amendment. Two more points regarding your comment:
1. I don’t ask anybody to take my opinion seriously, not on politics or anything else. I offer it for those who are interested, but I don’t pretend that it should mean anymore to you than some drunk bum mumbling about the coming apocalypse.
2. The right to vote is exactly that: The right to vote. It is no more a right to whine than any other action. By acting like those who don’t vote shouldn’t complain you take the “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos” mentality.
Let me put it this way: Kerry is better than Bush. Kerry isn’t my first choice, but he’s the lesser of two evils. I’d rather vote Libertarian, or something like that. Does punching that chad out for a guy I know is going to lose, rendering my vote not far removed from nonexistent, suddenly make my opinion more valid? And before you answer that, think about the gun-tottin’ redneck who will be voting for Bush because we should just bomb the fuck out of everyone with brown skin… Is his opinion suddenly more valid once he’s entered that booth – or has he simply done something about it?
And for the record, I do support a violent and bloody overthrow of the government. Unfortunately my girlfriend hates when I talk about those sorts of things, and I don’t want this blog to end up on some sort of watchlist when I’m generally so apolitical (crap, I guess I just ruined that plan).
Thanks — I’ll admit, it does bug me (and I’ll also admit I’ve been quite carefully re-writing my responses before posting them…at one point, one my last comment ended with “Vote dammit, or shut up,” before I decided that that wasn’t the best tack to take [grin]). Take the fact that it bugs me as a compliment, though, in all honesty. There are going to be a lot of people voting who are far less informed and articulate than you, merely because the far right does such a good job motivating their base, and getting them fired up with hellfire, damnation, fright tactics, and the rest. To see “one of our own” (so to speak) stay away is frustrating.
That said, you obviously do have your reasons, and while I may not agree with them, I’m certainly not going to just brush them aside. I do that, and we’ve just moved from the realm of debate and into the realm of Jon Stewart’s favorite talk show. 😉
I’ve struggled with this one, precisely because of the effect that the third-party voters had in the 2000 elections. In the end, though, I’d have to say “yes”. Admittedly, in the particular case of the 2004 elections, I really wish that Nader and his ilk would just stay away — it’s far too close of an election, and in my view, it’s far too important that Kerry be the victor for me to be entirely happy about votes going to a candidate that is destined to lose. They may be against Bush, but by not being for Kerry, it could end up repeating the 2000 debacle. Even so, though, those people are voting for what they believe in, and I have to respect that choice.
As far as your “gun totin’ redneck” goes…people like that depress me, actually. On the one hand, they are participating — but on the other hand, in far too many cases, there is no actual thought or rationale behind their vote other than the reactionary “bomb them back to the stone age” mentality. In some ways, they make a mockery of the system, as they vote not because of what they believe, but because of what they’re told to believe by FOX news, by Karl Rove’s nightmare machine, because of their fire and brimstone preachers, etc.
An informed vote with actual thought behind it, even if it’s for a candidate I don’t agree with (be it Republican, Libertarian, Green, or anything else), garners a lot more respect from me than an uninformed, mindless, reactionary vote — but overall, I’d still put voting at all above not bothering to vote simply because one doesn’t care and can’t be bothered to take part.
Admittedly, it seems that you’re in an unusual (fringe?) position where you have more reason and thought behind your abstaining from voting than most non-voters do. Obviously, it’s something I strongly disagree with…but at least you’re not part of the “eeeh, who cares, what’s the point, it doesn’t really matter” contingent (which, as I mentioned earlier in this comment, is part of what makes your particular case so frustrating for me to see).
There are days I wonder just how likely that might be, especially if Bush wins again. Realistically, I don’t figure that it’s very likely — but I’ll admit that there are times when I’m somewhat saddened by that. Our country has been quite seriously derailed, taken over by people who seem hell-bent on doing far more harm than good, and in the words of another who was dissatisfied with the government of his day…
After being frustrated and partially outraged at your decision to not vote I’ve come to this conclusion: Everyone has the right to vote as much as abstain from voting. You may not want to partake in a system that seems so…loopy and I can understand that this is the stand you have chosen to take.
I completely agree with you on the point that the system needs to be changed, and radically at that. An outdated electoral college should be the first thing to be hauled to the local dump site. This may not happen in our lifetime, but I’m hoping a couple of generations from now things will take a turn for the better. And if you don’t decide to vote, I hope that you (and everyone out there wanting change/peace) help to instill better ideals in the next generation so that they gain the insight and ability to change things for the better.
Michael – Yup, I’m definitely part of my own “fringe”. A big part of the problem with this year is precisely that a vote against Bush is not good enough. It has to be one for Kerry, and that’s not how I feel right now – even though I think he’ll make a decent president and is a far better choice than the alternative. The two party system is the only one that works in the current setup. What we really need is a move to a run-off election – don’t they use them in Alaska? I’d most likely go along with that one. In the meantime, I think we’ve hit the official “we’ll have to agree to disagree” wall.
Bhavna – That’s my best hope at this time. I believe that what I teach my kids, etc. will have a far stronger effect than any vote could ever have.
Thom – just out of curiousity, would you consider voting if one or more of the “fringe” candidates (Nader, Badnarik) were to be involved? I’m pretty sure I know how you feel about Nader, but would it still boil down to which candidates get the nod from their party that year?
I might consider it a bit more than right now, but it wouldn’t be definite. I was talking to Lisa last night and told her that if I had voted in 2000 it wouldn’t have even been for Gore – most likely it would have been for Harry Brown (that loveable nut). This year, I haven’t heard enough about other candidates to truly make a decision outside of Kerry vs Bush. That decision is obvious, but I still think we need a system that can properly take into consideration more than 2 parties – and straight vote like this just won’t do it.
Oh yeah, and Nader sucks.
I like Jon Stewart’s take on it:
“A President is freely chosen from a wide-open field of two men every four years…”
I should bring the book down to Sara and Jeff’s party, even skimming a few pages should be entertaining.
I only have one comment, that has many statements. I know that it’s hard to vote for a lesser of the two evils intead of your actual believes. But I’m also not a big fan of personal rights – I’m big on rights to the society. Saying that, I’m flabbergasted with the idea of having the right to not have the right, or to not exercise the right (which is what i think not having the right is). In a society where goverment is chosen (which there have been many through the ages), it has always been imperative for every electorate to vote. This is the reason I don’t see voting as a personal right, but rather a govermental institution which every electorate has to do. The society and goverment of the US is one such example in history.
Having said all that, what i’m about to say may sound like im contradicting myself, though I think I’m not (because it makes sense to me, and because I don’t do a great job of expressing how it makes sense to me). There is one thing, and this is not a right, but rather a property all human beings have, and that is the ability to choose. I know there will be many people that say that sometimes you never have that option, and one thing that can be talked about through phisolophical, religous or other means and which could be boiled down to the belief in destiny. I tend to have a very budhist/hindu belief of predestined lives and such, and to summarize them would be to say “you can be only yourself, and you will end up at a certain position, but it is up to you to decide how to get there.”
And this ties into my notions of voting in this manner: You choose to live in the USA. This is your current choice every day of your life, when you wake up in the morning, day after day. This is your choice. If you choose to live here, then you must follow the laws and regulation of that society/goverment. Therefore by living in the USA, you agree to the institution of voting, and voting for the US government. If you think that at any time you cannot reconcile yourself with this way of life, the society of the USA, then you have the choice, the ability, to move to another country/society where you can reconcile yourself. But know, that when you move you have to follow the rules and laws of that society. The critical thing here is that you do have the choice not to vote, but having that choice no longer goes with the society you live in, then move. And here is where people will say that such option is not aviable, that they cannot because of other ties they have to their current residence. As a person that has moved several times, because of several different consequences this is a falsity. It is rather easy to get up and move, and sometimes you may find it to be a better thing to do in the long run. The option is always there, regardless of your current situation. And if you are determined, you will be able to get back on your feet quickly at your new destination. So, if you believe that you no longer like the govermental system that rules you, my one comment for you would be to move somewhere else. There is always that choice.
Darksama, a few quick thoughts:
Do you own a gun? I know I don’t. I’m not interested in having one, although I do have the right to “bear arms”. But in that case, I would rather not exercise my right. I’m sure most people have rights that they are not interested in exercising – that does not mean that they surrender those rights.
And you have every right to feel that way. But until they make that a law, those feelings don’t apply to me.
Society and government are two completely different entities. You try to equate them in your comment, but they are not the same and the distinction is an important one.
Having that choice goes along with both the society and the government since there is no law that dictates I must vote and Americans in general don’t view it as a necessity. In 2000, about three quarters of qualified citizens even bothered to register and only two thirds of them went on to vote. That means that almost half of the people that can, didn’t vote. Obviously my beliefs fit in with this society as much (if not moreso) than yours.
As for the rest of your comment, I’ve encountered that mentality many times in my life. Back in the 80s people tended to express it with the phrase, “America, love it or leave it.” Personally, I’ve always found the most important aspect of the American government to be the idea that you can completely disagree with it, yet still live here. I have the freedom to hate the President, and as long as I don’t act out upon that, I’m still a free citizen. As long as I am in the bounds of the law, I can believe or do whatever I want. It’s absolutely ridiculous to say that because I disagree with the electoral process that I no longer fit into this society and should move.
But you are right about one thing: people always have the choice. And what a wonderful choice I have. I could uproot my life, leave my girlfriend, say goodbye to my entire family and all of my friends, turn my back on watching my many nephews and neices grow up, quit my job that I truly enjoy, leave my beautiful apartment, etc. and move to a country more to my liking. What a marvelous idea. And it makes so much sense, simply because I disagree with a system that I am supposedly free to disagree with. And afterward all I have to do is find a country whose government is properly elected (or selected), speaks English (or a language I can learn easily), has a wide open job market, has flexible immigration laws, and allows a wide-range of personal freedoms including that of speech and religion. And the only sacrifice I need make is throwing out the last 28 years of my life. That’s certainly reasonable considering my problem with the US is a faulty elctoral process in which I am not obligated to partake.
Personally, I believe that the purpose of government is to serve the people, not the other way around. And I will continue to live under this one until a better option arises.
And I will continue to live under this one until a better option arises.
When I win my own island from Capital One, you’re welcome to come live there 🙂
So long as Thom is the one to open the envelope
Hey…if he wants in, he has to be willing to do some work! :p
You know Mike, I was trying to come up with a way to work in that stupid envelope ad and I just couldn’t. Thanks for figuring it out for me 😉
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