Why I Will Not be Voting the 2018 Midterm Elections
After a Lifetime of Proclaiming the Importance of Voting (Which I May Generally Still Maintain), Today’s Midterm Elections Raise Doubts on the Meaning of Democracy
11/6/18, 2:43 pm EST
By John Corry, Photo from gotgovt
This past Friday, I received a letter…
The letter was from the ‘Center for Voter Information’ in my state’s capitol. Its subtitle read: ‘Voting Report Card for John S. Corry Jr.’ and then goes on to outline, in a fairly simple manner (four one or two sentence paragraphs on one, barely filled, page), that they will be monitoring whether or not I vote in the upcoming midterm elections, and that, quote (bold letters here being the only bold letters on the letter) “Who you vote for is private, but whether or not you vote is public record.”
They go on: “We’re sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to share who does and who does not vote in an effort to promote election participation,” and later: “We will be reviewing these records after the election to determine whether or not you joined your neighbors in voting,” (italics mine). This is then followed by a chart featuring my name in the left-most bracket of a 5 (top) X 3 (down) list. To the right of my name is my address and my voting record for every election since 2010 (a simple yes or no as to whether or not I voted). Below my name are two simple black bars filling the whole of the square, with their street addresses, identical with mine, but with their numbers blacked out, and, indeed, their voting records for the past four elections.
…One of them didn’t vote in the 2010 midterms…
I exaggerate, of course. Obviously, no one on my block is seeing that I, specifically, didn’t vote in the 2010 election any more than I can see who the other horrible person who didn’t vote in the 2010 midterm elections may be (but hey: at least I care). Either way, I have a reason to care now, more of a reason than I did back when I was stuck all alone in my own head thinking about whether voting is a simple moral ‘yes-or-no’: I can walk down my driveway, look down my street and think: ‘So I voted; did they???
‘When the dichotomy defining ‘yes-or-no’ is skewed to material moral objectivity (‘material’ here meaning: void of any intellectual capacity/primarily primacy-based, and this is wrong because ‘morality’ is inherently immaterial before it can be otherwise), reality is subjected Absolutely to a set of simple moral hierarchies (because that’s the only way to quantify ‘material morality’ (or at least at first)), and must so be defined (because Relative Morality is antithetical to the concept of Morality); and especially when assuming the additional element that is human perception and the inherent interaction between it (consciousness) and reality (we affect things just by looking at it). No collective consciousness nor subconscious could assume any understanding for its potential for unity under the reign of subjective/objective absolutism (because that (subjective/objective absolutism) doesn’t exist (transcendentally?)); perception is both either/or and simultaneous, because if it were otherwise, the duality between consciousness and subconscious would be assumed, and unnoticed— which is clearly not the case, for most people, in 2018 (or 2010 for that matter).
I finished reading the letter, put it away, to think about later, and continued in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (it really just turned out this way). I was at the part right before the shit was about to go down (or: a little less than halfway through it).
–I then received another letter on Saturday, this one not as ‘bad’, or whatever, which was void of the chart and the indication that I should get mad at my lazy asshole neighbors simply walking down the street, but which did include a restatement of my voting record, this time with a bar graph comparing my voting record to the average American’s (spoiler alert: it’s a match (4/5 ‘voted’)…).
I was by now a little more than halfway through Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities…
I mention all of this for one reason and one reason only (clearly): to try to make what I find to be a very complicated situation less complicated. This is not a referendum on the act of ‘voting’ itself, or whether it has any merit. As stated above, I do think that voting is important when thought leads to its inherent potency in-action, and that people should do it when they feel it appropriate (which I also still think is most of the time); but I also think that the ‘importance of voting’ is not so much defined by the reason why taking advantage of the fact that we can vote is important (which it is, but derivatively–), but by the act of voting itself. For example: there’s nothing wrong with realizing that politics isn’t your thing and so leaving it to those more qualified, so long as you realize that’s what you’re doing. ‘Voting’ or ‘not voting’ isn’t the question, caring and have some kind of opinion, even if that opinion is, ‘it’s just not my thing’, and taking responsibility for that opinion, is what matters.
I hope to show that by being the absolute horrible person I am by not voting, can be backed up, by the end of this article. If I’m being a pretentious douche about it, or an ignorant, lazy, anti-American, anti-freedom bag of moldy rotting teeth, it’s because I just don’t know any other way (or: I’d rather get it out before thanksgiving ;D).
The SHAMING I’ve so far indicated as the primary reason for this decision is only part. In this election cycle alone, I’ve seen politicians mace their own eyes, threaten to ‘stomp all over (opponent’s) face(s)) with golf spikes’, and assert that the president of the United States is literally trying to burn the world down. I’ve seen senators and ex-presidential candidates call for violence, and, in the last election cycle, saw the future president of the United States claim that the father of one of his opponents was involved in the assignation of JFK in 1963.
If these are any indications, ‘politics’ is only going farther down the ‘no-thought’ line, despite what their emotional plays for your ‘vote’ may be suggesting to the contrary.
Given that this is ‘the most consequential election of our lifetime’, I will not be going with them.
It’s long standing that politicians, for the most, exaggerate, and don’t have any original thought. ‘That’s just the way it is’, ‘politicians are supposed to care about what I think,’ but isn’t that an issue? If all they have to do is bend to the whims of the masses, how could they not use it for simple personal power? As a simple subconscious Nietzscheian Will-to-Power (people strive for power no matter what)? They’re only human, and when you take away that humanity, as we do when we refer to people as ‘the masses’ or as ‘politicians’ or as any other identitarian term we may want to use, the subconscious needs a way to make itself known. This ‘power for power’s sake’ mentality is exactly that: the subconscious coming out and saying: ‘Think about shit. Doing only goes so far; sooner or later, you gotta look at the other side, or else risk regress.’
This understanding of power was a big reason why ‘voting’ became a thing in the first place. Many scholars agree that a big part of the constitution was written to try to bend the human instinct/need that is Nietzsche’s ‘Will-to-Power’ (I use the hyphens to say that this is an in-time concept; no word could really symbolize the inherent ‘moving forward in time’ the word is meant to represent) into something more ‘intellectual’, for lack of a better word. In many societies claiming ‘democracy’, people are forced to vote for fear of punishment, even death. Is it possible that that may be the future of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? It took balls to send me that letter arguing that my vote matters more than my thought, and that my neighbors should chastise me for my thought-out decision. How may a power structure at first try to implement such a policy?
As I said, I voted in every election aside from 2010 (two years out of high school=expert on midterm politics), but this one is special, the ‘most consequential election of our lifetime’.
Is the election consequential, or the thoughts of the people participating in them?
And what about the statistically 50% of those who don’t? Are they ‘people’? Do they ‘deserve’ a say?
George Carlin once joked that because he doesn’t vote, he’s the one with the right to complain:
“Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says: ‘They suck.’ But where do they think these people come from? They don’t fall out of the sky, they don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. No, they come from American homes, American families, American schools, American churches, American businesses, and they’re elected by American voters. This is the best we can do, folks. It’s what our system produces: garbage in, garbage out… I have solved this political dilemma: I don’t vote. On election day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote you have no right to complain. Now some people like to twist this around. They say: ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain’, but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.
“I, on the other hand, who did not vote–who did not even leave the house on election day–am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you have created. That I didn’t have anything to do with. So when you’re having one of those swell elections that you like so much… on that day I will be doing essentially the same as you… the only difference is: when I get done masturbating, I’ll have a little something to show for it.”
Is there any truth to that? Was George Carlin a horrible, horrible, ‘white cis male’??? Or are we getting caught up in logistics rather than substance?
None of the candidates in my state stand out to me, and if that Carlin quote has any merit, the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument is shit one. Maybe it’s because I’m still a pretentious ignoramus, but they give me no reason to think that they have any original thought that might have remained after that age when most people lose all childish capability (the only line to ‘original thought’), which of course they have to do, as we all do, to get and maintain a ‘job’. The letters I received over the weekend show that what has been brewing at least since Trump won in 2016 is growing stronger: public shaming matters more than anything.
In 2016, I voted for Hillary Clinton (speaking of shaming: YOU VOTED FOR HILLARY?!?!?!), and it’s one of the biggest regrets I have. Not because I’m regretful for ‘participating in the process’, nor even for voting specifically for Hillary per se. I regret it because when somebody asks me if I voted in that wildly consequential 2016 presidential election, I have nothing more than a shrug. I have nothing more than ‘they were both bad’, and ‘it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past’, but it does matter. In fact, the sheer ugliness of that election would have been more than enough, in my mind, to have sat that one out. But that’s not what I did. Voting is what matters, not why we should be voting, or who who we’re really voting for, or how to convey my own thoughts to other people in a way that actually gets through.
At this point, no policy is going to be made until we can come to some kind of compromise on how we understand these issues: healthcare, foreign policy, immigration– these issues are complicated and we all need to hear all sides before we can even understand what the next steps may possibly be. But no one is arguing about these things, no one is listening. Instead, we’re all saying: “Vote for this person and she’ll make sure that no one hears the other side, because the other side is not only wrong, but dangerous,” the inevitable progression of fifty+ years of shaming the other side and arguing for partisan politics over understanding. This is what you want me to vote for? This is your answer to the big bad boogey man Donald Trump channeling an aggression silently waiting to explode for the past fifty years? Or those GOD-FORSAKEN COMMUNISTS trying to rob me of my kids (…)? By saying we need to kill ‘it’? How is that liberal? How is that democratic? How is that intellectual? How is that not exactly what Trump would want you to do, if he were as bad as you say he is (totalitarian-wise) (or, if you’d rather: replace ‘Trump’ with ‘The Communists’)? How is that not just falling by the wayside to that part of the human brain originating in our reptilian ancestors which says ‘ATTACK!’ at the first sign of danger, rather than ‘defend'?
That is what I find I’d be voting for this time around. It’s different every time, but this time: I can’t bring myself to support any of these people.
By not voting, I can actually stand by what I think regarding these issues, rather than cower at my regret, and wallow in my anger for the apparent absolute inability of all generations before mine to understand what Plato got right over 2000 years ago, but which has been misunderstood ever since: not that society needs to be ‘ruled’ by ‘philosopher-kings’, only that politicians and elected leaders need to think like philosophers (what is: creative (open-minded) thought)– which they cannot do when they’re forced to kneel to a mob (as the people in the mob have declared themselves part of a collective before they are individuals (we are all different)).
And if you don’t know what that means, or if you think it’s irrelevant within the context of these ‘dark’ times, Sherman, I’ll see you Wednesday, staring at me at the end of my driveway.