June 5, 2012
One Man, One Vote, One More Disappointment
I voted. It only took me about 5 minutes and for a short time I felt that I was citizen participating vigorously in the health of his country, exercising my right to choose our next leaders, standing up for democracy, making my voice heard, taking responsibility for the state of the nation, sending a goddamn message. That lasted until I got outside and saw my fellow suckers with their signs, their hats and banners and colorful clothing. They were chanting, singing, shouting encouragement and screaming insults. I shook myself and realized that I’d just, again, one more time, had played a part in the distressing event that gives Americans the false sense that they matter to their government. It’s a shared delusion, a hypnotic suggestion that degrades the voter; it is fraudulent and embarrassing.
Swear to Christ, I’ve never missed an election, and I used to be proud of that. When I was young, before Watergate and Grenada and Ford, Carter, Clinton, Bush, I would always look forward to Election Day. Years ago, when I first registered to vote, at age 21, in California, I spent most of my nights, after work, in one of the local bars. On Election Day, there were always heated conversations and arguments about candidates and issues. I spoke up once, voicing an opinion that I didn’t really understand, and the old drunk next to me said, “You don’t vote. You got nothing to say.” He barked a laugh at me and turned to one of his more qualified opponents.
From that point on I always carried the receipt I was given at the polls as proof that, in fact, I did vote. Two years later, in the same bar, I was listening to the familiar hogwash and I spoke up with the inarticulate passion of youth and the dimwit to my left said, “Hell, hippies like you don’t even vote.” I pulled my card out of my pocket and slapped it on the bar. I thought he’d be impressed but he just laughed and said, “You got no idea what you’re doing, do you?”
I was irate, probably argued, may have even fought him. It happened back then and Election Day was a volatile time, the country was polarized over the Vietnam War, Student’s Rights, Education and Marijuana Decriminalization.
I wasn’t disillusioned yet, however, and continued to vote every few years, took my receipt, and drank alongside men and women who became more and more disappointed, frightened and suspicious of the system. Now I’m sober and I don’t know what the drunks are talking about but it’s probably all the same unhinged, uninformed conversation of poor souls who think they can have an effect. Maybe they can. I don’t care.
I’m still voting, but the conceit has worn off. Over the last several years I’ve voted against candidates and against bills, laws and referendums. I’ve voted for men and women who might do something of value, who were carefully groomed to look like they had vision and intelligence and I really didn't trust or believe in what I was doing.
Things either went on the way they always had with no indication that there had even been an election, or else they changed in a way that was completely unexpected and may have been planned months or years ahead of time. We became suspicious and the suggestion of conspiracies, while still not totally recognized by the majority, was now a commonly accepted part of every political dialogue. Nothing changed and I felt like a schmuck.
But they need me. Of course they do. They need every citizen of voting age. Every four years they need me to vote for the limited issues that we are convinced will be in our best interests. Billions are spent on flashy TV advertising and slick speeches and magazine ads and carefully placed stories in the media. I believe that our representatives are owned by big business or some special interest that is not really special or very interested in any of us.
They need money, too, of course, and they get more that we can imagine from our taxes and they do with it whatever the hell they want. If I am working, earning, paying and staying healthy, I am good as gold and they will labor diligently to convince me that they have my highest interests in mind whenever they drag their greedy asses away from the public hose. Like they give a crap.
Old, sick, marginalized, uneducated, gay, female, disabled, poor, a veteran, all alone? Fuck you. They get together every single day, in their chambers and churches and covens and committees and pray for your quick painful death. No lingering, die fast and make room for the earners. The owners of the USA are a different, more privileged species and they are in control. Piss them off and they will get even because they’re also childish. Go to the airport and check out TSA, a branch of their personal security staff. The only pleasure I get at the airport anymore is knowing that, when a plane goes down, first class goes first.
So, I’m pissed that I still vote. I guess it’s been inculcated in me; lucky me. I kind of dig the illusion, I guess. Every few years I get to line up with the rest of the dupes and rubes and chumps and feel that, for a second, I’m part of history, even though I know it’s untrue and I’m a moron for even leaving the house. I don’t believe in conspiracies or the Templars or secret societies. There's no secret. All the crap is so obvious; it's on the table and in plain sight. But anything is possible. I’m a sucker.