Sunday, November 4, 2012

On Election Day and the Political Climate

"When we start to imagine those who disagree with us as 'crazy' or 'evil' or 'traitorous,' it becomes difficult to compromise with them and difficult to listen to them; at times it can be even difficult to stay friends with them.  And hurling insults instead of having conversations about policy leads to a social order where no one can talk without screaming, and that, more than either candidate's tax plan, is dangerous."  --John Green

I'm just going to leave that there.  And also remind you that Tuesday is Election Day stateside.  Now, being across the freaking ocean means that I actually voted like a month ago, but that doesn't change the fact that all of my American darlings should take the half hour of inconvenience and go vote.  (Unless, of course, you are perfectly willing to not complain about ANYTHING your government does or does not do for the next four years: if that's really the way you feel, then your apathy makes me sad, but at least you won't not-vote and then be unhappy with the results.)

You have this one chance every four years (well, two years if you count Congressional elections, but still) - the chance to have a profound impact on the way the government is run for the next four years.  And I personally feel like you have a responsibility to act on that chance.  If you don't, and the country goes in a direction you dislike, it's kind of your own fault and you have no right to complain.

That being said, in any election, tensions run high, especially the closer to Election Day that you get.  It's just that the rhetoric and attitudes behind this election have gotten so divisive that it's honestly worrisome.  Right now both major-party candidates remain neck-and-neck in the polls, which means that with the zero-sum political system and the isolating attitudes that surround it, come Wednesday morning, there is a good chance that nearly half the population will feel completely disenfranchised by the results.  And that's not good.

Our political system derives its legitimacy from the idea that no matter who you vote for, your interests will still be taken into consideration and, if they're not, you have the chance to change things four years down the road.  And I think the attitudes that people have developed towards the opposing parties have undermined this basic faith.  Illegitimate governments lead to revolution, so if this happens, I sincerely hope that people's apathy and laziness outweighs their sense of outrage, because otherwise we're looking at four years of serious political turmoil.

Please keep in mind that regardless of who you vote for on Tuesday, you should vote, and remember that the people who don't vote the same way aren't any less human than you are.

Nervously yours,
Rachel Leigh

1 comment:

  1. In some situations, isn't refusing to vote a revolutionary act? Not saying that this is necessarily appropriate in the US (given that I'm perfectly happy to throw my vote away to a third party) but interpreting any failure to vote as betrayal of the system seems harsh. Consider all those who have their votes illegally suppressed or miscounted. Or all those who are pressured by various factors to not vote or only vote for one of the two establishment parties. In a hypothetical situation where one believes that no candidate on offer is acceptable, must one still vote?


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