Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Faith Based Voting

I have received my ballot in the mail for the upcoming election here in Seattle and it sits unopened on my desk. This is a new experience for me and I’m not sure what to do about it. I have always been an eager voter, showing up at the polls early, researching every item on the ballot before hand and making sure I vote in every race. Once I switched to absentee voting, I would wait anxiously for the mail each day once I knew the ballots had gone out. After the 2000 election, my enthusiasm for voting went off the charts. Seeing how few votes could determine an election was exciting. Sure, all of the votes were not counted and the Presidency was handed out by the Supreme Court (as if it was theirs to give), but I thought it was just an anomaly that would certainly be remedied by higher voter turnout on our side. The 2004 election however, disabused me of any such illusions.

I became politically socialized during the Reagan years, raised by hippie parents who taught me to be skeptical of power and view government with a critical eye. I was a toddler, propped up on the couch while my parents watched the Watergate hearings for God’s sake. The first election I was old enough to vote in got me out knocking on doors, passing out the 800 phone number for Jerry Brown’s primary bid. I have always been a good citizen, a good Democrat, but most importantly, I have always been a good liberal. Arguing with my blue collar, sailor Grandfather about politics was a job I took very seriously even if it did usually end with him saying, “that’s just pinko crap your father beat into your head”. By the way he loved my father, because despite their different political leanings, they both shared a distrust of those in power. My grandfather’s motto was “throw the bums out” while my father taught me “Republicans are simply evil honey! Why would you ever vote for evil?” From both of them I learned that politics matter. Voting mattered. Even if you never voted for the same person twice, it mattered that you participated in the act of voting. In my family, all sides of my family, I learned that.

So now that I know for absolute certain that my vote does not count, where does that leave me, a liberal activist who has voted in every election since turning 18? I even voted in off year elections when there were only local school levies to vote for. Should I fill out my ballot and hope for the best? Faith based voting is not something I’m at all comfortable with. Should I protest by not voting at all? That goes against everything I believe in. Should I vote for Republicans but if exit polled say I voted for Democrats in order to skew the polling and make it look like an impossible win? If I don’t get exit polled and if I am the only one who does this, it doesn’t accomplish anything. I am a liberal girl in a quandary but I know I am not alone.

So for now there it sits, my vote, gathering dust with a coffee ring stain on the front. What was once revered and respected is now tossed atop a pile of junk mail. I used to consider my ballot an opportunity. Very rarely did the candidate or issue I voted for actually win, but for that moment while marking my ballot I could believe in the possibility of a better country. Regardless of whether I vote or not, I’ve already lost something much more valuable, I have lost that small glimpse of a better America that I always envision while casting my vote. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get that back.


Anonymous larryo said...

Your vote *does* count. In the long run, they all do.

9:26 PM  

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