Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vote for Pedro

Yesterday was primary day in Ohio. I didn't vote. I wanted to. I tried to. But I couldn't do it.

I've always been adamant about voting. I have worked, locally, on several presidential campaigns. I have organized voter registration drives and MTV Rock the Vote campaigns. I've complained more times than I can count about people who don't vote but then whine about the state of the union-state-county-city. Now I am one of those people.

I'm not sure my excuse for not voting is valid. Heck, it's not even an excuse, just an explanation. I'm sick of politics. I take that back. I'm not sick of politics, I'm sick of dirty politics. I'm sick of negative campaign ads (attacks). I'm sick of trying to figure out how we've come to such a sorry state that we put up with this crap.

I think we need to abolish the party system and just let people run on their platforms rather than against each other. Yeah, I know, that'll never happen. It's not feasible. It's not sordid enough. It's not even American. But wouldn't it be nice to just be able to hear about what someone wants to do to improve their little piece of the world and be able to reasonably expect them to follow through? Wouldn't it be nice if someone would inject a modicum of decency and respect into their campaign? Wouldn't it have been nice to have had the option of voting for a Kerry/McCain team?

The media pundits don't exactly have a positive effect on politics, either. Most media outlets lean towards one party or another, with few offering truly unbiased information. It seems like journalism has gone completely over to the spin doctors, commentators, and speculators rather than honest, intelligent reporting. And I'm not just talking about Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass, both reporters found guilty of injecting not just their own opinions into their pieces but fabricating the "news" they reported. I'm talking about Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Alan Coombs. I'm talking about Fox News versus CNN versus whichever of your local network channels you get your news from. The traditional town paper versus the tabloid version (which is roughly equivalent to the papers owned by The New York Times conglomerate versus those owned by Rupert Murdoch.) I'm talking about how the news is slanted depending on who is delivering it. That doesn't even begin to touch on the "news" that isn't news but mere speculation. Or projecting. Or polling. That seems to be a whole other genre of infotainment.

Anyway, to get back to voting, I actually researched some of the candidates. I tried to learn about the issues. I tried to separate the wheat from the chaff and I finally gave up. I finally got so disgusted I made a conscious decision (as opposed to an unconscious decision?) to ignore my own sense of duty and skip the polling places. I'm sure I could have conquered the new polling equipment, much of which was reported to have not lived up to expectations of simplicity, at least in my county. And I know from experience that I would have had to wait to get into a vacant booth but that wait would be less than ten minutes. I also know I could see past the familial links between candidates who all seem to be trying to make the point that they are related to JOE Smith but not JOHN Smith, or NOT related to any Smith that has served before. (You think nepotism in politics is bad in Boston, you should check out the incestual local governments in Ohio, including my little berg.)

Instead of just going through the motions I decided to take a stand and refuse to support what I think is a flawed system. Not flawed in its design but flawed in its execution. It probably won't have much of an effect on the outcome of local races, but I kind of feel good about my own little protest. Maybe I'll even write a letter to the editor. It's bound to get published. It seems the whole front section of the paper has been taken over by editorials and essays. I wonder where they put the REAL news.