Or, My Thoughts On Today (and on much of 2016)
I can’t claim to be any sort of political analyst any more than any of us can claim to do a better job than our favorite team’s coach on any given Sunday. I am barely an author, and this is a music blog, not a news/politics/current events blog. But, I am drawn to this election in a way that I never have been before. Big changes are afoot, my friends, and strong winds are blowing. Still, who am I to spout out my opinions on such matters as the American political system? And for that matter, who are you to listen to me?
In that same vein, not being paid millions to do it doesn’t stop us from yelling at the television when a stupid play call is made or when the ref’s prescription eyewear has evidently expired. A presidential election year, for many of us, is somewhat akin to that most American of pastimes that is the watching of sweaty men compete for trophies and the unabashed love of millions.
The trophy in politics’ case is much different – no pennant, statue, or cup here, but instead a (presumably) very nice office, and probably a plaque of some sort. I imagine that there is far less love headed a politician’s way than an athlete’s, but perhaps a bit of power in their hands, their lusting fingers stroking the controls in ignorance of how short lived their masochistic romance might be, is worth more to them than the adoration of thousands, even millions, of strangers. We follow the tune like drunken sailors on shore leave belting out tunes of the motherland with beer foam around our gaping wordholes in a dirty wood-floor tavern just off the pier – the sound can be heard by the exasperated temporary residents in the closed rooms upstairs, and it is off key and born out of madness.
This madness lies within the system itself, a bastard conceived from the rape of liberty by greed and corruption. Our one glimmer of hope, the string that we cling to as we dangle off of the precipice, is our voice and the chance that we may yet be able to use it.
Make no doubt, for months leading up to an election, everyone hears our individual voices, loudly and often stupidly, as arguments are had in bars and through brightly illuminated digital screens. Friendships are irreparably damaged. Families torn asunder. Marriage vows broken and custody arrangements made. Politics is messy, and better people than I have always and will always continue to fall victim to its brutality.
For all its bloodshed, the voice of politics is little more than infantile gibberish, except for on a couple of magical days. One of those, for the registered voters of the state that I live in, happens to be today. This is the day that Michigan will vote in our Primary, and I am both, and equally, excited and appalled.
I am dumbfounded at the current state of American politics.
In no other time in the history of our nation (that I can remember, but I will gladly take correction here if I am mistaken – trust me, I would rather be wrong) has there ever been a frontrunner to the Oval Office that is under a current, and possibly very damning, investigation for potential Breach of National Security.
Another frontrunner is openly racist. Two others have their eligibility in question as to their nationality (to clarify, I am not a “birther” – I wasn’t with Obama, I won’t be with Cruz or Rubio). There are currently six “viable” candidates for President, and four of them are highly questionable.
These four also have what seems to be the majority of support from the American people. To hear the mainstream media tell it, Hillary has all but pounded the last nail in Sanders’ coffin, and Cruz is going to finally overtake Trump one of these days. It’s just inevitable.
Of course, there is the question of Superdelegates (what the fuck does that even mean?). By all accounts, on the Democratic side, Hillary has at least 20k Superdelegates under her vest, which gives Sanders an automatic loss – this is what they want us to think. They want the American people to believe that they shouldn’t even bother, the game is rigged, and the outcome has already been decided.
Does the GOP have any Superdelegates? Because, for all of the talk about the Democratic Superdelegates that they simply handed to Hillary, I haven’t heard one single word about GOP Superdelegates, or to whom they will be addressed on Christmas morning.
Well, yes, the GOP has Superdelegates, but they are far fewer and have much less influence. Generally speaking, the GOP Superdelegates vote the same way that their state voted, and follow the popular opinion much more strictly. They can vote differently if they so choose, but not unless they want to risk their reelection.
“Pish-posh!” you say. “The GOP has a better way of doing things? Balderdash!” But it’s true. The people, rather than the elite, will almost certainly choose the GOP nomination. On the DNC side, the narrative isn’t as evenhanded. While the same holds true that, if they don’t want to risk their position or political influence, the Superdelegates should follow the expressed desires of the constituency. The question is will they?
It’s even stranger when you look at it from the other side. Confirmed delegates in the race for the DNC presidential nomination, Clinton has 663 and, after two big wins this past Saturday and a strong showing on Super Tuesday, Sanders is tallied at 479. Not a dead heat by any means, but still pretty close with over half of our 50 states still to go. According to the same math used earlier, this gives Sanders around 42% of Superdelegate votes, with Hillary leading him at 58%. There are 747 Democratic Superdelegates. 58% of 747 = 433, making Hillary’s total delegate vote count 912. 42% of 747 = 312, giving Sanders an estimated 791.
Yet, for some reason, all media sources are claiming that Hillary has over 1,100 delegates’ support, and Sanders has only 500. In fact, I have to actually type “democratic primary results without superdelegates” in the Google search bar in order to find the same statistics as I find by simply typing in “GOP primary results” – numbers unsullied by the mainstream media that attempt to show voters who may have been leaning toward a particular candidate that voting for him is a wasted vote.
Why would the corporations that control our media sources want to sway opinion like this? Why would the most elite and well-off people in our country try to tell us that it is already handled, don’t you worry about it until November, Hillary has it in the bag? It is almost as if they want Sanders’ supporters to simply cry off and accept the inevitability of Hillary’s nomination and her consequent rise to the Big Chair. It is almost as if, since Sanders is one of two candidates that they can’t invest in, they want no part of his candidacy, and will do whatever they can to tarnish his name and viability.
What scares me even more is the possibility that the number of votes that will never be counted might end up deciding this election. The disheartened, disconnected, apathetic cry of “Your vote doesn’t even matter, the establishment will put who they want in power, nothing will ever change, everything sucks” can be heard across the nation. Out of an estimated 219 million eligible voters in 2012, only 57.5% of them voted.
Guess who didn’t show up?
The youth. Votes from people age 18-29, despite an added 8 million voters to this demographic, dropped from almost 50% in 2008 to just around 40% in 2012. The people who would benefit most from shaking up the establishment and sending a message to the elders of our great nation.
Young people, you have painted yourselves into a corner. For all of your outcry about inequality and injustice, about crippling debt and ridiculous healthcare costs, about sexism and racism in the workplace, you have yet to actually show up and do the one thing that will help to fix that.
Go vote, you fucking idiots.
I come now to a comparison that I have yet to see be drawn. Pascal’s Wager is the name given to a religious apologetic concept where one believes in the existence of a god or gods because the punishment for disbelief outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. Personal religious beliefs aside, one can see the attractiveness of such an idea. “Maybe there is no god, but if I believe that there is, I won’t be sentenced to eternal damnation, and if there isn’t, what did I lose?” I get it.
It is a very interesting concept, especially if taken out of the realm of the supernatural and laid over the political landscape of America. Maybe our vote doesn’t really count, maybe it is all a sham, maybe our hope is childish and irrelevant. Maybe. But what if it isn’t?
If our votes actually do count, wouldn’t it be better to go ahead and cast a vote for the person that you think will benefit our nation most rather than simply not voting? In my opinion, the only wasted vote is the one that isn’t cast. Even if they are all wasted votes. In a sea of wasted votes, the most illegitimate are the ones that never see a ballot. But, for all that it is worth, political atheism might actually be the downfall of our nation. At the very least, it will guarantee a few more years of the same old, same old, and then where will we be?
And, with that, an idea was born. Shortly before I sat in this chair, there was a train of thought that, even as I type, is still dynamic. It has changed in detail at least a dozen times, but the foundation remains unchanged. And it can really work, if we try. And, even if it can’t work no matter how hard we try, we’ll never know unless we try.
I urge every person that thinks that their vote doesn’t count to take a few minutes out of their day to vote for the person that they think will benefit our nation the most. In my state, Michigan, we vote today. If you think your vote is truly wasted, cast one anyway. But think about it as if your vote really does count, because if you are wrong and your vote really does count, we want to make sure that the best candidate wins. Pascal’s Wager in a tangible and demonstrable scenario.
Go vote, even if you think your vote doesn’t matter. But, please, for Christ’s sake, think about who you are voting for.
Trump is an awful person. He is a liar and a crook. He is a failure as a businessman and would be the worst atrocity to American foreign policy that we have ever seen. He makes no real points, has no real plans, gives no real details on his “policies” and garners support from the most extreme of the American citizenry – racists, misogynists, and the incompetently stupid. Not all of his supporters fall into these categories, but the vast majority do (and, statistically speaking, if you support Trump, yeah, I’m probably talking about you – hate me if you will, you are good at that, be the best you that you can be).
If you have to vote Republican, by all means, vote Republican. Just, please, for fuck’s sake, not Trump. Kasich, if anybody, but fuck, please God, not Trump.
Hillary is almost as bad. She has flipped her opinion based on the vote that she wants so many times, it is difficult to know where she truly stands on any issue. One thing is certain, she has the support of the same people who sent our nation into the worst economic spiral I can remember, and the third worst according to all conventional history. And, her rhetoric of “I will release my Goldman Sachs speech transcripts if everyone else does” sounds suspiciously like “I will do what the Republicans do”. Her opposition for the DNC nomination has already released his (they don’t exist). Maybe this is because she is actually a Republican, after all.
On the other hand, Sanders has stood for the very same things, not just for his entire political career, but for his entire life. He has always worked for the better of the average citizen. He has always raised his voice so that those who have no voice can be heard. He has always fought for equality across the board, and for the betterment of our society in general. He is a man of the people, elected by the people, and working for the people. Never in my years of paying attention to such things has a candidate had such a sterling record, and had the best intentions of the vast majority of our nation’s citizens at the forefront of his policies.
If you truly don’t think your vote counts, go vote anyway. Vote for Sanders in your state’supcoming primary. What’s the worst that can happen? Business as usual? Well, if your vote doesn’t count, that’s what you will get anyway, so what’s the harm? And, of all of the candidates running for the position as Leader of the “Free” World, his victory is the only one that will actually mean that business is NOT going to continue on as usual. So, even if your vote doesn’t count, what’s the harm in voting for the guy who could possibly change that and could also possibly save our nation’s population from the disastrous ruin that “business as usual” has been leading us toward for decades?
If we don’t have the hope that our voice means something in our lives, what else do we have?