Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hi. I’m depressed. I’m a registered Independent. I live in a state (Maryland) where two-thirds of the voters are Democrats and where President Obama can’t lose. The only Presidential television commercials I’ve seen are meant for Virginia voters. I’m the guy at the bar all the hot girls are ignoring. (Who I’m voting for is none of your business, but it rhymes with “Romney.”) So, no matter what I do, all of my state’s 10 electoral votes are going to President Obama.
I realize we’re a republic and not a pure democracy, that we elect electors and that they vote for the President. I understand, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. We need a Constitutional amendment to replace the electoral college with the direct, popular election of the President so that every American’s vote counts, so that we can stop talking about “swing states,” so that one state (Ohio) or a handful don’t determine the Presidency as if the rest of us schlubs didn’t exist.
I’m also voting against our long-term incumbent Senator and my incumbent Congressman who have done nothing of any real merit while they’ve been in office.
My Senator is running against a Republican who means well, but he’s a first-time candidate whose campaign has been poorly designed and executed, especially considering how relatively little money he’s had to spend. Complicating the race, there’s also a wealthy Independent candidate who didn’t enter the race until September, when it was too late for him to do anything more than split the opposition vote. I’ll probably vote for the Independent to make a point, but neither opponent has any chance of winning.
My Congressman is effectively running unopposed. I’ll cast a protest vote for the other guy while I’m in the booth. (Actually, my wife and I will be voting electronically in the basement of a nearby Lutheran Church. There are no more booths like there used to be when there were little levers to throw.)
Incumbents raise huge amounts of money, notably from special interests in return for the access to our elected officials those dollars buy. It’s money that, in this day and age, makes them nearly impossible to beat.
There are the usual Judges and Board of Education candidates. It’s not that those offices are not important. It’s just that there is no reasonable amount of effort on my part – mostly reading voter guides and candidate materials – that can give me any real basis for deciding among them.
So why am I voting at all? Because I care about two ballot questions, one having to do with same-sex marriage, the other, gambling as a means of financing our schools. (I’m for legalizing the first, and opposed to permitting and subsidizing the second.) I’m going to vote Tuesday a week from now because it’s the right thing to do, and because I care about these ballot issues, but I do so without the excitement and enthusiasm that voting should be all about. I am, after all, participating in a process that will elect the next President of the United States and other high officials in a time of such critical economic, fiscal and social problems. Participating, sure, but more as matter of habit than hope.
By the way, my candidates don’t have to win in order to justify voting, I just don’t like investing my time and emotions in races that are either perverted by a centuries-outdated electoral system or by special interest campaign financing.
Me? If my votes for President, Senate and Congress don’t count, the least I should be doing is voting for real, honest-to-goodness campaign finance reform and to stick a fork in the electoral college system.
In the meantime, this funk I’m feeling? It’s just one more reason why turnout is so low.