Thursday, March 8, 2012

return of the newspaper column: where there are no good guys

 This week's column for the St. Clair Times probably should've been longer, but the point still stands. And I've tried to vote for Ron Paul, for the record, but I can't see that he's any more appealing than anyone else. Anyway, you can argue with me here or on Twitter. Thanks.
Vote for the good guys, or vote against the bad guys

Just once in my life, I’d like to go to the polls and vote for someone.

I should clarify. I have been of age to vote in America since 1999, or three different presidential election cycles, along with a number of municipal and state elections. Now that I think about it, the first vote I cast as a registered voter was on then Gov. Don Seigelman’s lottery, which was on the ballot that spring.

Then, as now, there was nothing to vote for. Only something to vote against.

I couldn’t vote for the lottery, because then I’d be opening the state up to illegal gambling, which I was told would eventually lead to everyone being a drug-addicted welfare dependent who would murder me for a handful of extra food stamps. On the other hand, I couldn’t vote against it, because if I did I’d be taking money away from school children, which would eventually lead to them becoming uneducated rubes without the capability to read a STOP sign, which would lead to me being killed in an auto accident.

My first presidential election was similarly vexing. I could have either voted for George W. Bush, who I was told was a doofus puppet of a right-wing conspiracy that wanted to destroy the environment and drive gas-guzzling vehicles made out of poor people; or I could vote for Al Gore, and usher in a namby-pamby state of people who believed in a far-fetched utopia and stole money from successful people to support shiftless “liberal elites.”

I’m probably exaggerating.

The thrust of every negative ad during this campaign is the same, and has been since the beginning of the experiment in voting: “If you’re not excited by our candidate, at least understand you CANNOT VOTE FOR THE OTHER GUY BECAUSE HE WILL RUIN EVERYTHING AND YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE.”

A political science professor I knew in Tuscaloosa told me that, for everyone at some point in their lives, they will have a candidate that they consider “their guy.” That’s someone who energizes them, makes them put out signs and causes them to stay up late on election night, hoping they can change the world.

I have yet to encounter that person and doubt I ever will. Which means, I guess, I’ll have to settle for voting against the bad guys.

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