Next Tuesday, November 5th, is election day, so consistent with
my longstanding tradition in election years I am now going to give
you my recommendations for who and what to vote for, because I am
wise, perspicacious and extraordinarily insightful. Just listen to
me and you can avoid thinking altogether.
Next Tuesday, November 5th, is election day, so consistent with my longstanding tradition in election years I am now going to give you my recommendations for who and what to vote for, because I am wise, perspicacious and extraordinarily insightful. Just listen to me and you can avoid thinking altogether.
No, wait; I don’t have a longstanding tradition of giving people my election recommendations. That could possibly be because I think doing that sort of thing would be incredibly presumptuous, ridiculously pompous and thoroughly unctuous. I mean, really – why would anyone think my idea of who or what to vote for is any better than their own? It’s not like I have a better handle on the moment than anybody else just because this newspaper is kind enough to print my idle musings.
But why should that stop me when so many others are doing it? Therefore, here is my recommendation: I think you should vote for the candidates and propositions of your choice. The operative phrase here in case you missed it is “you should vote.” Got it? This is me on my soapbox (imagine I’m about to yell): VOTE!
They had an election a couple of weeks ago in Iraq, and according to the surprise winner and only candidate Saddam Hussein everybody in the country voted and everybody voted for him – no slackers, no exceptions. We all laughed; even in other Arab countries they laughed. Who would have thought Saddam could tell jokes? I mean, I don’t see him supplanting Seinfeld, but at least he’s trying.
So if that’s a knee-slapper, how funny is it that in a country where we have candidates from every point on the political spectrum, a secret ballot, and an actual free choice somewhere around a third of us bother to participate in the process?
OK, so lots of us are a little disillusioned with politics and politicians. The media feeds us a continuous smorgasbord of waste and fraud and corruption and gridlock and partisan game-playing and … I have to stop, I’m depressing myself. Nonetheless, the system isn’t likely to get any better if it’s run by people who are elected by fewer and fewer voters. Yes, it’s true your vote isn’t worth a lot; then again, a dollar isn’t worth a lot either, but if you saw one lying on the sidewalk would you bother picking it up?
A gentle reminder: the taxes you pay, the wars your kids fight, the equipment your fire department has to keep your house from burning down, the safety of your drinking water are all controlled by people whose only power comes from the outcome of an election. If you don’t like who we’ve got, vote for somebody else; if you don’t like the choices the black party and the white party are offering, vote for the blue party or the brown party. If you don’t like negative campaigning, vote for somebody who doesn’t engage in it. If you’re unhappy, speak up.
Pavarotti once said that Italians like to go to the opera so they can boo the tenor. As a tenor himself perhaps he was pointing out that his countrymen like to complain and are hard to please, that they don’t appreciate anything less than perfection. Perhaps he was also saying that for the audience the booing is as entertaining as the production. It sounds like Italians treat opera much like the way Americans treat politics.
But there’s another point: to boo the tenor you have to buy a ticket. By all means, people, complain and moan and gripe about all the tenors you want. But buy a ticket.
Robert Mitchell practices law in Morgan Hill. His column has appeared in The Dispatch for more than 20 years. It’s published every Tuesday.