My learned and well-considered pre-election day advice to you
You didn’t ask for it, and I have no sufficient expertise to give it, so here it is.
You don’t have to vote. If only you knew how sick I am of hearing people tell me voting is not merely my right – it’s my obligation. I can tell you I’m pretty goddamn sick of it, but that doesn’t quite convey the message. Voting is not my obligation, nor is it yours, or anyone else’s. If you don’t want to vote, because you don’t have time, because you just don’t give a fuck, or whatever the reason, you don’t have to. Don’t. Voting is optional – which, by the way, is a good thing. There have been a great many nations where voting was/is compulsory – Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, a whole shitload of African stratocracies – and they aren’t places I’d really want to live. If you want to vote, go, let nothing stop you. If you don’t want to vote, don’t, and tell anyone who says “If you don’t vote, you don’t count” to eat shit and die.
Don’t choose the lesser of two evils. How many times have you been guilt-tripped into voting by veterans who tell you, “The only reason you have the right to vote is because men like me were willing to fight and die to protect that right.” Which, if you ignore the fact that the last war in which American freedom was directly threatened by a foreign power ended in 1814, is a good point. But don’t all those brave veterans (my father and grandfather among them) deserve a little better from us than just marching behind the curtain and pushing the button for the lesser of two evils? “Well, Cocksucker A is a cocksucker, but not as big a cocksucker as Cocksucker B, so I’ll vote for Cocksucker A.” Is this the best we can do? If you show up on election day and one of the races (or, more likely, most of the races) are between two total assholes, neither of whom have any business serving in government, don’t choose the lesser of two evils, I beg you. If you can’t decide who to vote for based on other factors, then don’t vote for anyone. Skip it and move on to the next one. Because the vets are right: too much blood has been shed all over the world for any citizen of any free country to have to choose the lesser of two evils to run the government.
But if you don’t choose the lesser of two evils, who are you going to vote for? I mentioned other factors; like:
Vote for a minor party candidate. America officially has over 300 million people living within its borders, and yet most races from the President down to local sanitation commissioner are between two candidates: a Republican and a Democrat. The Republican wants to lower taxes on the only people who can afford to pay them in the first place, and force children to pray in public school and learn the Biblical creation story in science class. The Democrat wants to raise taxes on everybody, and give teenage girls the right to get a taxpayer-funded abortion without telling her parents. Oh, and by the way, they’re both amoral liars who will say anything to get you to vote for them. So who in the fuck is a reasonable person supposed to vote for? My answer: anybody else. Here in Maryland, my ballot has at least one minor party candidate listed on about half the races. Vote for candidates outside the two party system whenever they run, whether they fully represent your beliefs or not. In the long run, the only way the people will ever take back the government and make our voices heard is by smashing the oscillating oligarchy that currently runs the show. That means kicking out the Republicans and the Democrats, and it has to start somewhere.
Vote against the incumbent. The government in America doesn’t listen to its citizens anymore because it doesn’t have to. Most voters buy into the two-party system with drone-like acceptance, some with zealous orthodoxy. “Republican,” Democrat,” “Conservative,” “Liberal,” “Moderate” – these are all pejorative, they encourage the “Us vs. Them” mentality that dominates politics, and as a result the United States Congress has an 80% incumbency rate. Election after election, year after year, even decade after decade, the same people are running the country. The easy way to fix this and return a great deal of power to the people would be to institute term limits, but that would mean the end of the career politician, so that’s never going to happen. A legislature full of career politicians isn’t going to fuck itself like that, especially when it has such a goddamn ball fucking all of us. So strike a small blow against entrenched politicians in your state, your district, your county, and vote against the incumbent, no matter what party they belong to. If a particular race has no incumbent running, then vote against the incumbent party. The hell with it.
Use the Write-In option. There are usually a few write-in candidates registered, people who couldn’t quite get on the ballot but are still officially running. Don’t forget them – and don’t forget that you can write in whoever the hell’s name you want. If the losers on the ballot for a particular race don’t melt your butter, and you can’t decide between them, think of someone you know who is eligible for the office who would do a better job, and write his or her name in. What can it hurt? I plan on voting for my Granny in several races this year. A wasted vote, you say? I don’t think so – read on.
Vote for who you think should win, not who you think will win. This is where that whole ridiculous, anti-democratic, elitist, horseshit notion of wasted votes comes from. If you vote for someone who has no chance of winning, you’re wasting your vote. George H.W. Bush tried that shit on people who wanted to vote for Ross Perot in the 1992 Presidential election – “We all know this guy doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning, so you might as well vote for me.” Um, that’s not the point of voting, asshole. The whole point of having free elections is to let the voters express their will. I know the Populist candidate for Governor of Maryland isn’t going to win tomorrow – understand, I know that. I’m voting for him anyway, because to vote for Bob Ehrlich or Martin O’Malley, the only two candidates who have a realistic shot at winning, would be dishonest. I don’t want either of them to win, so I’m voting for someone else. If there’s a race where there is no someone else, I’m writing someone in. That’s the last and most important advice you’ll get from me: vote your conscience. If you don’t, even if your man wins, your vote wasn’t worth shit.