Saturday, May 26, 2007

We are 527 days away from November 4, 2008, the day votes are to be cast for the 44th President of the United States, and the contest is already heated. On the Democratic side, we have 8 potential Presidents; on the Republican side, we have 10; and on the third-party side (a.k.a. the candidates who should just save us all a lot of time and throw in the towel), we have, well, a lot.

It can be safely assumed that the race will boil down to Democrats v. Republicans as it always does, and to a person such as myself, it must be asked, "Why should I vote?"

Often, people will justify voting as a means to express your opinion, but what should one do when the candidates fail to match up well with a voter, especially a voter who despises both the Democrats and the Republicans? Obviously, voting for one of the third-party candidates is an exercise in futility (no third-party candidate has ever won a Presidential election in this country), so I have absolutely no motivation to waste my precious gas, and my much less precious time by standing in line and voting for someone who does not represent me at all.

Last November, the Democrats emphatically won the 2006 midterm elections, taking both the House and the Senate. Pundits claimed that the Democrats won not because many voters thought they were great candidates, but because they weren't Republicans. In other words, the Republicans lost the election, the Democrats did not win it. The Washington Post called it "a sharp rebuke of President Bush and the Iraq war."

Five months into their reign in Congress, the Democrats have changed little, if anything. They certainly have not done what the voters wanted, which was to stand steadfast against funding or otherwise furthering the Iraq War, as they gave in by removing timelines from the legislation after the White House pressured them.

Now, pray tell, how did voting work in that scenario? The White House threatened to criticize the Democrats if they didn't remove the timelines, so they caved in. That makes Nancy Pelosi a hypocrite, doesn't it? After all, she said, "We cannot continue down this catastrophic path and so we say to the president, 'Mr. President, we need a new direction in Iraq.'"

However, in defense of the new Democratic Congress, they have had only five months to get things done, and they certainly could get their act together and do as the voters suggest. Congressional trends say that they will instead focus on trivial issues. Before losing the 2006 midterm elections, the Republican-majority Congress, under the Bush administration's reign, made a living on focusing on issues such as flag-burning and gay marriage, while huge legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was rubber-stamped without so much as a careless gloss-over.

I have heard some egregious justification for voting, even when one is in the situation I find myself in. The argument can be summed up as, "Pick the lesser of two evils." Sad when a democracy has crumbled down to that, isn't it? Comedian Lewis Black said it best, "You've got a choice between two bowls of shit. The only difference is the smell." I want my country's oval office to smell either like a pine tree, or like a new car, thank you very much.

And then there's the problem with the lobbyists of mega-corporations. A cynic, like me (and George Carlin, apparently), would say that politicians are nothing more than puppets of big business. That claim can be proven rather easily. Imagine someone pointing at the Bush administration, pointing at the mess in Iraq, pointing at Halliburton winning no-bid contracts in Iraq, pointing four years later at Iraq (still an awful mess, by the way) while simultaneously pointing at Halliburton's wallet, and then asking, "Hmm?" Connect the dots:

All that is without even mentioning the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, which, arguably, have an even stronger stranglehold on our politicians. Michael Moore describes this in great detail in his new documentary, Sicko, expected to come out on June 29.

More than a year ago, I asked if voting mattered and have asked this question to many people and debated my stance plenty of times. One year and four months later, my stance on the issue has grown much stronger and I'm curious if there's an angle I'm missing here. If you can think of one, please let me know (my contact information is at the bottom of the home page).

I really want to care about the upcoming Presidential election, I really do. But I have no motivation to vote for someone who I feel is unqualified or otherwise unfit for the title of Commander-in-Chief, nor for someone who does not represent my political beliefs. And even if I do find such a candidate, I have no faith that he or she will be able to have enough leverage, either by choice (lobbyists) or by numbers (minority opinion) to make such drastic changes. Every election boils down to Democrats against Republicans and none of them are fit to rule this country. It is sad when that can be said about the so-called greatest country on the planet.