Friday, March 16, 2012

Civic Apathy

It's one of those annoying years, presidential election year.  Is it me, or has it seemed like the last four years has just been one long campaign for whomever wants to be in office?

I'll start by saying that the last presidential election was the very first time I have ever voted in my life.  I was 28.  Ten full years after I became old enough to vote.  What took so long, you ask?

Well, I could answer that by telling you it all started when I was in high school and learned about the electoral college and then subsequently questioned the validity of such an archaic and confusing way of electing a president, and while that is true, it isn't the reason I haven't voted.

I could tell you that it is because I don't have any faith in any of the candidates, that they are all imbeciles that have no idea how to run a country, and that they are just in it for the advancement of their own careers, and while I do believe that too, it isn't the reason I haven't voted either.

Honestly, the reason I haven't voted is that I just don't care enough.  Yeah, I know, I should feel guilty for feeling that way-- I should want to vote. I should get all patriotic and feel some sort of civic gratification for being a part of the process blah blah blah.  As a woman, I should feel some sort of duty to the suffragettes of the early 20th century and that should propel me to vote because they sacrificed so much to get the vote for women, but the sad fact is that it just doesn't directly effect my life enough, and guilt isn't really a motivating factor.

I view government elections much the way I viewed student elections-- a bunch of ambitious people clamoring to get us to vote them in, promising all sorts of things they had no control over such as better and more parking spaces, better and more food, and my favorite-- better student involvement whatever that means.  So the students who were dumb enough to waste their time went and voted.  And guess what happened after that?  Nothing.  Nothing changed.  And do you think anything would have changed if that other student was elected instead? Nope.  The only thing that comes from student elections is that the elected students get to put "student government" on their resumes.  The rest of us fall into two camps: those who realize how ineffective it is voting in said elections, and those who are deluded into thinking they are making a difference and continue to vote.

I'm sure I've made several of you angry by now.  Think about it for a moment though-- how much has your individual life changed since Bush was in office?  The only thing that has changed for me is that the jokes are now about a different person, and someone else gets more screen time on SNL.  In fact, I'd venture to say that Obama is the worst president we've had in a very long time, and has my life plummeted as a result? No.  My life is pretty much the same as it always was.  Maybe there have been policies put in place that have effected some of you in a dramatic way, but not me. Not really. Do I feel like my life would be improved at all if McCain had been elected? No, not really. Actually, I think that's a testament to our government working perfectly-- the fact that our standard of living really doesn't alter much from president to president means that our government is functioning perfectly.  Or it might mean that it is completely corrupt, either way I have no control over that.

There just isn't anything in it for me.  How's that for selfish?  What about foreign policy? I gotta be honest with you, I don't know a darn thing about foreign policy, and I highly doubt that it would matter if I did.  Little ol' me here in Southern California won't make an ounce of difference in any election.  Oh-- but back to there not being anything in it for me:  Do you know what happens when you register to vote in a new area or for the first time in general?  Yep-- Jury Duty. Now voting has turned from a neutral activity into a negative one.  First I'm being guilt-tripped into voting, and now I'm being punished for it.  You want to get me out there voting?  Hand out 100$ cash at the voting booth.  I'll be jonny on the spot.  When I did vote last election, I can honestly say that I felt like a fool.  I knew that the guy I was voting for wasn't going to win, and I wasn't even sure I wanted the guy I voted for to win anyway, and a year later I got summoned for jury duty. Thankfully by that time I had moved to Utah and couldn't participate, but trust me, the lesson was learned.

I know, I'm a horrible person.  But I can live with that.  I still have yet to decide if I will vote this election-- it will come down to wether or not I want to risk being called up for Jury Duty.  With my luck I'd be called as a juror for the next OJ Simpson trial and I just don't think I could handle that.  Although, that would mean a break from my kids and free meals for the duration of the trial...