I am and have always been obsessed with American politics, American presidential politics, doubly so. I’ve read dozens of presidential biographies and autobiographies. I could pick all 44 of them out of a line up and tell you a few interesting facts about each. I’m properly obsessed with the personalities of each and every one of them. I even have a set of presidents made by the Marx toy company in the 60’s. My personal hero is Calvin Coolidge, who is literally the only man Will Rogers ever met and didn’t like.
In past cycles, I’ve posted political blog posts here including my manifesto. However, this election cycle has left me so disgusted that I haven’t said or shared anything outside of the safety of my living room. It’s one of those “if you don’t have anything nice to say” situations. I know sharing my opinions on Facebook won’t change yours and is likely to either hurt your feelings or cause you to say something to hurt mine.
People who drag out the old “lesser of two evils” gripe have always pissed me off. In most election cycles, there are two, or more, extremely qualified candidates who survive the trial by fire of their party’s nominating process. I bitched openly and often about a recent president, but my complaints were about his policies, not his ability or his pedigree. I have had the great fortune, as most of you have, of standing in a voting booth and knowing either option would be a good steward of the presidency and of the country. This year, though, is the first time I’ve had a concern that one of the “two evils” might actually be evil.
This all got me to thinking about why it doesn’t really matter.
The founding fathers will protect us. One of the great things about our constitution is that it created a government that can’t be dominated by a single person or even a single party. We’re built for dysfunction. There are three branches of government with three very separate functions. The primary purpose of each is to either validate the others or prevent the others from growing too powerful. One of the branches, the Congress, is itself divided into two houses made up of elected representatives from all over the country each with their own agenda. The only way Congress can accomplish its one function (to create laws) is for a majority of representatives from each house to agree and then for both houses to agree with each other. What’s even more dysfunctional is that right now, the majority party in control of both houses of Congress, believes most governance should not be done at the federal level.
Your vote is worthless. In case you didn’t already know, you live in a voting district that was created to ensure the victory of a single party in every election. That sentence is true no matter where you live in the country. Yes, your red district used to be blue, and will one day be blue again. By that time, the lines will have been redrawn at least two more times to try and keep it red. Unless you’re drawing out congressional districts, you are powerless in choosing your Congressman. Senators are chosen at a statewide level. State political allegiances change very gradually over decades from red to blue to red to blue. If you’re over forty and live in the South, you’ve watched an entire region of the country go from blue to red, and some of it is now beginning the gradual move back to blue. Unless you live in a state with a small and gullible population, I’m looking at you Montana, your one vote and your opinion won’t accomplish anything. Finally, despite what you may think, Presidents are not elected through popular votes. They are elected by the electoral college. When you vote, you are technically helping select the electors from your Congressional district and state (see above for why that doesn’t matter), and those electors can vote for whomever they darn well please.
Make America The Same Again. The state of American politics has always, always been just as ugly, dirty and loathsome as it is today. The parties have always vilified each other. Every president has been openly despised and ridiculed by the “other” party. Only during times of national crisis do the branches work together. And even then it’s only ever long enough to start a war. Once fighting commences, they go back to hating each other, unless one party has the decency to secede entirely from the union. Many of our leaders have been deplorable human beings. Our founding fathers sat in a hot room and did the math on the value of a human being who is owned by another human being (spoiler, the solution is 3/4 of a human being). Once, for 140 years, women couldn’t vote at all because men said so. Many of our presidents cheated on their wives, but Warren Harding went so far as to write his mistress letters about his penis and probably fathered a child with her. Richard Nixon’s long national nightmare ended in resignation. The things Bill Clinton did should be restricted to the realm of presidential fan-fic. There were no good old days. This is literally as good as it gets. And nothing you do will change that.
Let’s go back to pretending our differences don’t matter. I have friends… Well, I have Facebook friends, who support Trump or who support Sanders or who support Clinton or who don’t care at all. I like those people. All of them. That’s why, despite my passion, I haven’t ranted long and hard about this disaster of an election year. Do I wish we had better candidates? Yes. Do I wish I could explain why I disagree with your choice and maybe even change your mind with my wicked logic? Of course I do. Do I wish Donald Trump would go away and let someone more experienced, presidential and less divisive take his place? Duh. Do I wish we could cede all governmental power to IBM’s Watson? Yes, yes I do. But it’s not going to happen.
What i’m saying is it’s okay to be passionate, but don’t expect to change the world… and don’t be a dick.