Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why vote?

I'll be heading out to vote in a few minutes.

Here's a little secret I've been keeping from, oh, basically everyone in my life: I don't care very much who wins. I harbor a sneaking suspicion that they're both good men with decent hearts, and with different strengths and weaknesses. Ditto their running mates (except for the "men" part).

So why vote?

I live in New York. I can head out and vote for Obama. I can head out and vote for McCain. I can stay home and raid the birthday cake that I baked for the babysitter get a ton of work done. It doesn't matter. The size of my thighs will remain constant regardless. Obama will win my state regardless.

So why vote?

I possess a hefty dose of cynicism about the process of selecting a president. Not about our system, necessarily. Though flawed, I think, for the most part, it's about as good as it can be. It's more like when I had to write a thesis in college and I had tremendous troubles getting it done, even though I cranked out good papers on a regular basis. It was a thesis. How could I possibly write a thesis when my undergrad knowledge of the subject about which I was writing barely scratched the surface of the total knowledge that existed about that subject? How can I, we--anyone--select a president? The only people who know what being President entails are actual former Presidents, and even they faced their presidencies under entirely different sets of circumstances than any other Presidents. The rest of us--well, how can we possibly know what it's like? How can we possibly know who's the best person for the job? We can attend rallies and read newspapers and scrutinize records and watch cable news until our eyes fall out of our heads, but how can we ever really know a candidate, who he is, how he makes decisions, and what's in his heart?

So why vote?

Well, there are all the people who suffered and died so that I could. It's certainly the civic thing to do.

Quite simply, though, I vote not just because it's the civic thing to do, but because it's the civil thing to do.

We live in an age when people holding opinions different from those in their general surroundings are scared silent at cocktail parties. One of our presidential candidates has been improperly labeled a Muslim and a terrorist, thereby insulting both him and the thousands of good and decent Muslims in our own country. The sitting President, a man who has had to make decisions that none of us can imagine making, has been the victim of more hatred and vitriol than I ever thought possible. Another candidate, the female GOVERNOR OF A STATE, has publicly been told by another elected official (another female, no less!) that her "primary qualification" is that she "hasn't had an abortion."

Enough. I'm sick to death of the hatred, vitriol, and malice. It seems to me that one of the last bastions of civility is being able to go into a booth, close a curtain, and pull a lever, to say, "I support this person for office." Not, "This other person is evil and stupid, and so are all the people who support him," but "I SUPPORT THIS PERSON."

Regardless of who wins, please begin the winner's term of office with an open mind and a civil tongue. Satire? Fine. Criticism? No problem. Disagreement? Absolutely. But, please, no malice. No hatred. No acid. No vitriol. It's high time we brought back support for the institution of President.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mamalujo said...

What a good way to put it. Reminds me of that song at the end of "Life of Brian."

Always look on the bright side of life.

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Anonymous apathy lounge said...

Easier to do if your guy wins. In this case, mine did. But I live in a red state and my vote could have made a difference...somewhat. I see your point, though.

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