Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Conquering Australia

I don't discuss politics often.  It's not a topic I care for all that much, and despite already being in the fourth season of House of Cards, it's not something I'm terribly qualified to talk about at depth.  But one thing that I've been thinking about a lot over the past few months has been those people who support Bernie but wouldn't vote for Hillary if she were the eventual nominee.  Some say that they wouldn't vote at all, or they'd vote for a third-party candidate (which is of course equivalent), or occasionally they say that they hate her so much that they'd rather vote for Trump, even though by all accounts their ideals and beliefs align much more closely with Hillary than Trump.

We live in something at least vaguely resembling a democracy—wait, a republic—well, at least we don't have a king.  We're each entrusted a vote, allowing us each a tiny say in how our country is run, and who should run it. It's a wonderful, sacred thing, and we shouldn't waste it on people we don't truly believe in.

Except, of course, no, it's nothing like that.  It's not sacred at all.  It's a minuscule tool that we're given as a part of a well-defined and completely absurd process that was designed by people who aren't us.  Hopefully that doesn't sound terribly paranoid, but I don't think it's very controversial to state that gerrymandering exists or that the electoral college is insane or that our systems of assigning primary delegates are maddeningly overcomplicated.

But anyway, people take it as this matter of personal pride that they refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils.  And I think that's madness.  Voting for a president is not choosing a godfather for your child, you're not taking them home to meet your parents, and they're not putting your name down as a reference for a job application.  You're not vouching for their character, and you don't even have to like them.  You don't have to like the process either.  In fact it's not about you at all: it's just a formal dance that our country goes through every four years, and trying to make it about you and your own romantic statement that you're making into the void and at no one in particular is counterproductive and irresponsible.

You did not write the rules to this game.  You can and should feel bad that it's a terrible system, and it's awesome if you want to help try to change it.  It would be wonderful if, in my lifetime, we actually fixed our election system and there were more than two real political parties.  But you should feel no more remorse voting for the lesser of two evils than you would for conquering Australia in a game of Risk.  That's just the way this game works.  You have all the other days of the year to work toward fixing things and raising awareness and convincing people that someday it would be really cool if we weren't controlled by the incredibly rich—but on election day the only thing you're doing is filling in an oval next to the name of the least terrible of two people.  Stop pretending that it's something that it's not.

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