Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Democracy is not a spectator sport

This is something I wrote a long time ago, but I think it still holds true and is timely. If you've seen it before, get over it and go read something else. I have updated some of the stuff to make it more current.

I have heard in the past year or so, the argument made that neither candidate inspires, that neither candidate meets the needs/wants/desires of a particular voter, and therefore, that voter has decided to stay home on November 4. L's family is like this. Her brother feels that any president ought to have experience in the military, but he has no faith in McCain's abilities, so he will not vote this year.

He is among those same people who were raised on welfare and SSDI, who have relied upon the government for everything from the day they were born (think WIC program) and yet still refuse to participate in that program.

I don't think her mother has ever cast a ballot and does not know who her local, state, or federal representatives or senators are, nor could she name the vice president of the US. This goes beyond ignorance, which is a lack of knowledge, directly into the realm of willful stupidity, which is a flat refusal to care or learn.

They abdicated their responsibility, and others defend them, saying that I should not be harsh in my assessment of their behavior.

Cultural relativism is an interesting, but inherently flawed argument.

Cannot we agree, as a community and a society that there are some things that are just wrong?

Certainly people can believe what they like, but I would argue that there are some beliefs that are wrong.

Murder is wrong.

Hurting people is wrong.

Child abuse is wrong.

Elder abuse is wrong.

The belief in Aryan supremacy is wrong.

The belief that one gender is superior to any other is wrong.

The belief that homosexuality is an abomination is wrong.

And belief that democracy is a spectator sport. is. just. wrong.

I believe that I have the right to say racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. Discrimination is wrong. These are truths.

I also happen to believe that with the rights granted to us by the United States Constitution and all of its Amendments, come great and grave responsibilities to care for and maintain those rights and those documents. Part of those responsibilities means taking an active role in the process. Working for things we believe in, fighting things we are opposed to, and voting when we are called upon to do that. I view our system of government much like a living thing. It must be cared for and paid attention to or it will die. Part of the care and feeding of our system of government means voting. Nobody can do it for us. Like feeding our kids, it is our responsibility.

I have an interesting proposal: If someone wants to shirk that responsibility, and defend that decision with any number of arguments, fine. Let that person abdicate their responsibility, but also let them forgo all of the benefits their government provides. No more unemployment checks, no more disability checks, no VA medical care - oh wait, that's already been gutted, never mind - no protection under the law. Got mugged? Didn't vote? Sucks to be you. OK, don't want to pay taxes? You get to eat the food that has not been inspected. You get to drive the vehicle without seatbelts and airbags and those little explosion-preventing features mandated by law. Oh, but taxes pay for roads, so you can't use them.

I think Australia has compulsory voting. I like that idea. You get hit with a hefty fine if you don't cast a ballot. Nice. That's one way to make sure everybody participates. But holy shit - is that how it should be? I hardly think so. Active participation in democracy is like active participation in parenting. It's just something you should fucking do. It's your (our) job. No questions, no complaints, just do it. Turn off the tv, get up off the couch and attend a candidate's night. volunteer, even, but do something to get involved in the process. Even if all you do is call the candidates and ask a couple of questions about issues that are important to you. How do you feel about school funding? What are your thoughts on pollution and what can we do about it? Gay rights? Abortion? Just ask. If they're running, it's their job to answer, and to listen to your concerns.

Or sit home and let the rest of us decide for you. Because you are too scared, or overwhelmed or you dislike conflict or maybe just because you are a lazy, stupid fuck. This is your life, your world, that is being affected here. And that means it is mine, too. I care enough to participate in my world, and by association, your world, too. Pull your own weight.

Get out and vote and quit your whining. Don't like the candidates? Then put up or shut up and run for office yourself. Not willing? Then be grateful someone else is and give one of them your support.

I will stop now because I am horribly frustrated by this whole thing.

Why are we even arguing to convince people to participate in their own lives? Fuckit. Stay home if you want. Die stupid. It's your right.

1 comment:

crow said...

When I talk to people who have made their decision not to vote, my first urge is to smack them. I haven't done so. Yet. I try to stay calm. Reasonable. Encouraging.

I don't know if I've made a difference. Maybe I should start smacking.