and the beat goes on

So there was an election this week in the United States.  I found myself caring more than usual this time around, which still doesn’t amount to much.  The women’s health issues and general fucking crazy happening there made it feel more urgent.  But as Jakob Augstein says in this really hammer-on-nail commentary, “America has already lost Tuesday’s election.”  After reading the piece I couldn’t help but agree.  And here some details had me actually feeling involved.  I mean, we do consider moving back from time to time, and voting has always been an excellent way of making people feel like they get to participate in the big decisions of their time.

The very first year I lived in a Wagen, I voted by absentee ballot.  I remember sitting up on the lofted bed and reading through a long list of candidate names.  Besides the presidential candidates, I had never heard of a single one.  It made voting for any of them seem ridiculous, farcical.  But I checked boxes (no electricity there, let alone internet for me to do quick googles of the candidates), and, miraculously, even managed to send in the papers on time.  Of course I’ll never know if my vote was counted or not, but after reading something about how absentee ballots generally end up in the trash, I gave up the last miniscule, thread-bare strand of faith in voting.

Absentee voting is a strange animal.  If you’re just gone for a short trip, I can imagine it making some sort of sense.  But when you’ve been gone for seven years, become all but abstractly disconnected from the politics of your birth country, well, it doesn’t.  Of course, in the country where it might be more meaningful, I’m not allowed to vote.  (Strictly speaking I am allowed to vote in local elections but not the big ones.  I am not sure if this will still apply when I get my eternal visa this January for being married to the Beard for three years.)  Of course the operative word here is might.  I don’t really hold much stock in voting, or, as you might have noticed, the entire current political system.  Ho-hum.

Either way, I found myself breathing a large, loud sigh of relief when I read that Obama had won.  But does it really matter?  Augstein doesn’t think so.  And at the end of a very long day, neither do I.

“Romney, the exceedingly wealthy business man, and Obama, the cultivated civil rights lawyer, are two faces of a political system that no longer has much to do with democracy as we understand it. Democracy is about choice, but Americans don’t really have much of a choice. Obama proved this. Nearly four years ago, it seemed like a new beginning for America when he took office. But this was a misunderstanding. Obama didn’t close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, nor did he lift immunity for alleged war criminals from the Bush-era, or regulate the financial markets, and climate change was hardly discussed during the current election campaign. The military, the banks, industry — the people are helpless in the face of their power, as is the president.”

And later:

“From a European perspective, it doesn’t matter who wins this election. Only US foreign policy is important to us — and Obama is no dove and Romney no hawk. The incumbent president prefers to wage his wars with drones instead of troops, though the victims probably don’t care if they’re killed by man or machine.”

There are some details that will (could?) improve under Obama’s care.  But what about the big picture?  What about the fact that the planet is still going to hell, that industry is destroying everything we need to live with and without our permission?  What about all the wars and death and jesus shit there is so much fucked up stuff going down I don’t even see the point in doing a cursory list.  When a candidate runs on a “dismantle civilization” ballot, you’ll find me back at the box.

What about you?  Do you vote?  Did you hear about the US election and breath a sigh of relief?

0 Comments on “and the beat goes on

  1. As an anarchist, I don’t vote. Well, that’s not entirely true. I sometimes vote for a specific piece of local legislation or a city council member. But in general, I think elections are a ploy, a distraction to keep the powerless masses fighting each other.

  2. I agree that our country is probably screwed either way, but I’m glad Obama won just because he is a nicer person and now I won’t have to cringe seeing Romney in the news for the next 4 years.

  3. I wish and wish and wish that we didn’t live in a two-party society. But we are huge. As it is, the country was divided nearly in perfect halves in terms of the popular vote. Our states and regions range from the super-populated urban sprawl of Los Angeles (4 million people, beaches, mountains, movie stars, hippies, serial killers, gangsters, average joes and judies)to the rural expanse of Alaska (population 722,718 as of 2011). How can one system, in the far, swampy reaches of DC, possibly meet all the needs of these people socially, economically, ideologically, etc? That’s why we have state and local government, of course, but the fact remains that the sea change that is required to do our part to reverse or even mitigate the effects of climate change is many eons away. We’re just too big and the system doesn’t work for everybody. And we can’t just jump up and divide the country into factions who want to be urban but not drive cars and plop them in Los Angeles (because it’s the perfect bike city, I’ve decided, except for all those goddamn cars) and take the ones who want to drive cars and put them in an underground city.

    Oh shit. I’m ranting. Didn’t mean to, sorry.

    I for one am relieved to still have some reproductive rights. I was honestly thinking of stocking up on condoms, birth control, plan B, etc and I am pleased not to have to do that. But I do feel your frustration and the frustration of all who feel their votes don’t matter or that the country is in too much trouble.

  4. Wow – your views and the journalist’s are really depressing – is that how the world sees us? I felt that we were screwed as a country but hearing someone else hear it makes it seem all the more real. But I am glad that Obama won, it proves that the religious right at least for now are not the kingmakers they once were. Aside from the fact that they do not give a SHIT about the environment (!) I do not want them legislating anything to me based on their ancient biblical views. Some of my conservative colleagues are saying that yesterday was a sad day in the history of the country. An even sadder one was when we went to war with Iraq based on misleading information!! People died!!

    Now I am ranting. I didn’t intend to but I am SO SICK of it all!

  5. Living in Germany and being “German”, I still was relieved that Obama was elected. I don’t think he can change much, but politically he seems to be the lesser evil compared to Romney. That said, I haven’t voted for more than ten years, apart from some local Bürgerentscheid. I just don’t want to support that system in general.

  6. Anybody who says the first thing he’s going to when he gets in office is get rid of funding for public television is a shit head in my opinion, so yeah, I’m glad Obama won.

    I’ve lamented our two party system for years, because until we move in a more parliamentary direction, where different opposing parties have to form coalitions to get things done, we’ll continue to have the congressional stalemate that we’ve experiencing for far too long.

    Yes, I’m relieved Obama won.

  7. I totally agree. That’s why I don’t vote. The UK is pretty similar to the US where, although there are many parties to vote for, you’re really just voting between Conservative and Labour. The North and working class generally vote labour, and the South and upper middle-class generally vote Conservative. And they basically all stand for the same thing; pretty much all do the same thing. The differences in policies are a matter of semantics. It’s a joke. The illusion of a choice. I refuse to participate in such a fraudulent delusion.

  8. I personally think a lot of the problems with stuff in the United States comes from people thinking voting is be all end all, that once they have voted all will be well. The way I see it, voting is the least we Americans can do. The giant corporations have a disportionate amount of power, and they are telling the government what they want it to be constantly. So, average people need to be out there as well, saying what they want government to be. Plus, a lot of Americans only vote in the Presidential elections, which leads a lot of dysfunction and uninvolvement at the local level, which is exactly where there needs to be the most involvement! I think far too many people have just decided that “government doesn’t work,” when clearly some components of it do, and just disengage. I don’t think this attitude helps anyone, because, in my opinion, getting closer to what you want government to be is better than writing it off and letting the corporations dictate how our lives will be lead.

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