Tuesday, August 08, 2006

kind of blue

So, there's a state primary today, and I didn't vote in it.

I kinda feel guilty, and I kinda don't give a shit.

The main reason I didn't vote is because I'm not registered; been out of the country too long, I guess.

I was raised with a wierd political conciousness: politics is something that happens in D.C., and important men talk about it on the news, but it's really just a mysterious process that has no effect on us, so there's no point in paying much attention. All politicians are lying scum and you can't trust the government. So distrust Washington, but always rally around the military (Hoo-rah! Semper fi!) And always, always vote, in every election, not just The Big One in November. It's your Civic Duty, and a very serious one.

This is mostly due to my parents being old-school Democrat Catholics; both of them are in unions, so often the local politics of commissioners and board members and referendums and taxes really does affect them. I'm descended from a very long line of war veterans, including my dad, hence the pro-military stance (and the suspicion of the government; Vietnam has cast a very dark shadow in our family). Voting is just something you do; whether or not it influences anything is beside the point. Voting is part of being a good person, like going to mass every Sunday and not getting speeding tickets.

And as a feminist and a progressive, I know all the arguments for voting and getting people involved in the electoral process. As a woman and queer, I know exactly how vital it is to get your voice heard, to stand up and be counted, and what happens when you aren't. My state has some of the strictest anti-choice laws around; I can be arrested for driving a minor across the river to get an abortion. The several Catholic hospitals in town don't have to give me EC if I'm raped, and neither does the local drugstores. Got the constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and laws against gay adoption and fostering.

But as a feminist and progressive activist, I am so thoroughly disillusioned about voting. There are two Greens up for small positions in this primary; I wonder if they even warrant a ballot of their own? Are they just stuck on the end of the Dem's ticket? If I were eligible to vote today, I'd have to hold my nose and vote in the Democratic primary, for candidates that are pro-life and pro-Iraq. Been getting recorded messages from the Republican candidates (it's not enough that they're fascist theocrats, they gotta bug you during dinner too) , so my little blue vote would probably get buried in my Red district. They've introduced the new voting machines this time, so I imagine it might not even get recorded and counted at all.

But I might still vote anyway, despite all this. Just to maintain some hope and optimism. The problem is, I don't have any. What is the point of voting when I have no one worth voting for? Why should I waste my time, when I know They, my local and state reps, don't give a good godamn about me? They don't give a shit about my vote; I'm in the wrong tax bracket. I've walked for hours around my small college town, trying to get people to sign a petition against the gay marriage amendment, and I knew we didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of preventing it from passing. You try spending all day politely asking people to preserve your civil rights and having them all say no to your face. I've been to pro-choice rallies at the state capitol building, carrying piles and piles of signatures and petitions, asking for our bodily integrity and autonomy back, I've knocked on all the doors of all my reps' offices, sat in their waiting rooms endlessly while the secretary ignored us. Not a single one of my legislators would speak to us. What good is a vulnerable vote when they literally shut the door in your face? I've shouted in front of the White House with one million other angry women, and they just pull down the blinds so they don't have to acknowledge us. The FBI came to our measly little podunk town and harrassed the local anarchists for planning on protesting the Democratic Convention!

It's a no win situation. If I vote, I'm simply encouraging the Democrats in their cowardly, Republican-lite tactics and perpetuating a corrupt system that I believe is fundamentally flawed. If I don't vote, I weaken what little defense there is against vicious ideology. Either way, they don't listen to me. What's that quote by Churchill, that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I can't wait till I'm settled in Arizona and can get back involved in the local activist scene. Maybe I'll even join Code Pink. I'd much rather work with others and get something done ourselves, and have the luxury of telling the next politician who comes calling for my vote to fuck off.


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