Just saw a post on FB: “The American political system is broken when the only reason to vote for one is to prevent the other from winning.”
That sums it up nicely. And it has been the case in the majority of elections that I have participated in. Occasionally a candidate pops up that I can feel truly confident endorsing. Most often this happens in local elections, but now and then I have the opportunity to vote for someone in a major election that I feel truly represents my convictions. Usually in a primary. Usually, because politics in my town, state, and nation seems to be marching steadily to the Right, my candidate loses. And I am stuck having to choose between lesser evils.
“Well, that’s just politics,” a friend says with a shrug. “You never get everything you want.”
I don’t want everything. I know that’s unreasonable. But in a representative form of government, I think I can reasonably want to have someone who represents the most fundamental values that I believe in, and addresses the issues that I think are critically important. It would be helpful if that candidate were also experienced and capable.
Instead I am faced with voting for someone who does not represent me, who I do not trust to effectively address critical issues even if they claim they will, just because the other candidate is even more detestable. I feel utterly disenfranchised. No matter who I vote for, my voice is not going to be heard.
All my life I have been an activist. I have marched, demonstrated, and rallied. I have voted faithfully in every election. I have canvassed and written articles and fought in whatever small way I could for causes I believe in. For a while, it seemed like progress was being made. Then it began to unravel. Yes, a few things have gone well. Gay marriage rights is huge, I’ll admit. But income inequality and erosion of civil liberties continue to grow worse. Climate change is ignored. Environmental policy continues to be dictated by corporations. And the electoral process has become a corrupt farce.
The 2016 election has torn it. I am so utterly disappointed in the choices made both by voters and by the political machine, heaped upon the ludicrous horror show of Congress, spiced with the antics of various elected officials in states around the country, that I am ready to wash my hands of the whole disgusting mess. If my most sincere efforts have accomplished so little, continuing to beat my head against the wall makes no sense. The vast majority of my fellow Americans refuse to add their voices to mine and those like me, so our outraged squeaks are drowned out by the demagogues’ red glare and media bombs bursting in air.
Until I see a sign of hope, a powerful movement for good that I can add my weight to, I will quietly go about the business of living my life, doing what good I can for the people around me. I don’t need the noise of politics; I have plenty of problems demanding my attention. I have articles and books to write, gardens to tend and critters to look after. I will vote in November for someone, it hardly matters who, and whoever gets elected is the business of the rest of the nation. I wash my hands of it. Whatever fall-out drifts down to me I will deal with.
If my readers feel the need to respond with urgent exhortations about the importance of continuing to care, do so. I know your motives are sincere. Believe me, I have heard it all and even said it myself from time to time. You aren’t wrong. However, having thought long and hard about this, I have reached this conclusion: One must choose one’s battles, and I choose not to waste my energy on this one.