Just… JUST GO VOTE!!!

Posted on October 6, 2016 by

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I’m currently sitting at my desk contemplating the state of this Nation a day after the only Vice Presidential debate the electorate will ever see. Immediately afterwards it was announced that the nominated VP for the Republicans had a narrow victory over his opponent Senator Tim Kaine. (Ironically confirmed by the GOP an hour and a half before the debate even started.)

Truly, this debate was a reminder of how embarrassing our election cycle has become. On one side there was the Democratic attack dog in Senator Tim Kaine. A man with a notable career based off of progressive values; he is no stranger to reaching across the aisle to get the work done. Yet, in this bloggers humble opinion, he came off as boorish, single minded and impatient. In contrast Governor Mike Pence came off as the wall of slick defense for GOP nominee Mr. Trump. Offended by barrages of questions on Mr. Trump’s policies again  and again by Senator Kaine, Governor Pence lost his cool slightly, letting his political mask slip and what we have below is the wonderful repartee of our potential Vice Presidents’.

Kaine had said: “When Donald Trump says women should be punished, that Mexicans are rapists and criminals, he is showing you who he is.”
And Pence responded, “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.” (CNN Politics: Contributors Juana Summers and Nicole Gaouette.)
Now captured in this moment is the essence of this entire campaign as I mentioned before. “What is this essence?” you might ask. My answer stands that this campaign, this current political system, this Western society we live in and vaunt as the true way to live; all of this can truly be boiled down to one word: sensationalism.

How does sensationalism effect elections?

As a culture we are always looking for the next “IT” to become hooked to. I will out my age here by admitting I am an early 90’s baby; so please take me at my word when I say can remember when the word “Fad” was used to describe quick societal obsessions. Instead of fads, we now have what is “Trending”. Yet again a quick birth of an idea, phrase or object. Followed by an even quicker death to be replaced by the next thing. This concept can be applied to most aspects of our collective American culture. Most prominently our politics have become, and remained, a trending topic of sensationalist tactics that have withstood the test of time. From the mudslingers of the 1800’s to the current technical landscape, voters have always been hooked on big headlines. Particularly headlines that will help reinforce emotional ideologies about opposing candidates and this campaign has been full of doozies on both sides.
We have heard and watched borderline racist remarks pandering to scared voters on one side and heard the other side completely bash the electorate for being “deplorable”. Let’s face it ladies and gentleman we are currently living at the beginning of the golden age of technology and we squander the ability to acquire information at our fingertips for big headlines. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% guilty of this as well. For all this lead up I can imagine the confusion and the impatience bubbling under the surface reading all of this, because truly none of what I have just said is breaking news. Here is the million dollar question bubbling beneath the surface: WHY? Why does any of this matter and why should any of us frankly give a damn? Because, as a nation built for the sole purpose of governing through votes and democracy we should care when our needs and our voice is no longer heard. We should care when the results of our government have systemically shown and proven through study that we are no longer a democratic nation.

Democracy?? Where??

That’s right my dear citizens of the world wide web, the United States of America should be considered more of an oligarchy than a true democracy. As defined by Oxford Dictionaries here is what oligarchy means:

NOUN

  • 1A small group of people having control of a country or organization.

As opposed to the definition of a democracy:

NOUN

  • 1[mass noun] A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Now before anyone starts blowing up my comments please hear me out for just a second. I completely agree that our system is set up in a mostly democratic fashion. We elect our officials to all levels of government to represent our needs and wants. As American citizens we don’t always get what we want, but as long as we participate in this process we have the understanding that we will be represented because we are the majority of the population. However, in a study published in 2014 by  Princeton and Northwestern Universities, both found that the policies and will of the majority were not followed. Instead what was found after a thorough study and data analysis the authors found:

“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” (Gilens & Page).

In layman terms this means that large corporations, and the economic elite hold the power to shape this country and our culture as they wish. For many this comes as no surprise. We know the influence that corporations hold over our daily lives; we see the ads, the continuous reminders of what it means not hold elite social status hourly if not by the minute.

This farce of a political process the electorate is witnessing this year is just a reminder of how little power the people have use to choose the current candidates. Currently the options are between a billionaire and a household name in politics. Both of whom come from families or married into families that have been shaping US culture and politics for 30+ years. If this is not a representation of an oligarchy then I don’t know what else to say.

Well what can be done…?

As the election looms ever closer and closer to an election that many consider to be the most influential in recent memory Gallup polls found that,

“Amid the news frenzy leading up to the first general election debate of 2016, fewer U.S. adults rate themselves highly likely to vote for president than did so in September of each of the past four presidential election years. Sixty-nine percent of Americans currently rate their chances of voting a “10” on a 1-to-10 likelihood of voting scale. That is down from 76% in 2012 and 80% in 2008, the year with the highest turnout since 2000.”

This is completely baffling. Particularly when just speaking with friends, family, colleagues and random folks within society, we all agree that this election is important. What hurts most out of these anecdotes is when I hear what pollsters at Gallup have found that my friends and family are either so scared or so fed up with the electoral system that they do not want to vote. How can this be? That in the country where “Freedom” and “Democracy” are held as some of the highest standard, we are willing to abandon the privilege to vote. Not even a privilege anymore, but a right. A right that hundreds of thousands have fought for, marched for, protested, been beaten for, died for, that we are willing to just callously abandon. “But why should one vote matter?” This is an excuse I hear too often. One vote matters because it can still influence, county elections literally sometimes come down to one vote. That one county can sway the state, that one state can then sway the entire election. Yet citizens still utter that they don’t believe their one vote counts. That is where sensationalism comes in.

Whaaaat???

By being caught up in sensationalist strategies, it becomes easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. It is difficult to look a problem in the face and admit that the problem even exists. Admitting a problem isn’t just difficult, it hurts like hell. By acknowledging said problem we look ourselves in the eye and admit there is a flaw. As a country we have a problem, and the only way it can be fixed is by working together. In the following graphic this is the first acknowledgment that a problem exists.

american-govt-satisfaction

Across both parties the Legislative branch only holds a 35% approval rating. This is the branch that enacts laws, that governs our lives. Yes the Executive branch is the face of the nation, and sets the precedent but they do not hold the power to affect many daily lives of Americans in the way that Congress does. What does this say about those ruling our country? What does that say about us when we do not wish to become engaged in a system we are dissatisfied with?

Personally this tells me that we are more worried about being caught up in trending topics and sensationalist media, than to become engaged in our political system. Yes I agree that politics can become dirty, they are messy and unpleasant, but so are most things that are important in life. Nothing can or will ever be perfect. That doesn’t mean we should give up our voice to let others rule our lives as they see fit. Our nation was built to give representation when we felt we had no representation at all. Now who that immediately benefited followed up by the history and analysis of how we changed this is another discussion/ blog post for later. For now though I beg and implore you to take our system seriously.

I do not care who you vote for or what your current politics are. I do not care what you think of the other party or opposing candidate. What all of us should care about more than anything is the fact that we should ALL vote. We hold the power and the ability to shape our country. Let us take that responsibility back so that this style politics can forever be buried in dusty history books. Let us become the age where we use technology to truly do some good in our lives. Let us become the people who took the vote back for our own. Cause truly I’m sick of seeing political cartoons like the following exist and portray pretty much how everyone is feeling at the moment. Let’s just vote, and take our civic duty back.

image

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