One week to go

29 Oct

One week to go before Election Day.  This is always a fun week for me to watch friends and loved ones start to finalize their choices for next Tuesday:  “I don’t like my party’s candidate, but I’m tired of holding my nose.”  “I’ve been so busy that I haven’t paid attention to who is on the ballot.”  “Which offices are being decided this year?”  

 

Me?  I’ve never had too much internal turmoil with my votes, thanks to writing in my votes.  It’s not that I don’t care:  I pay close attention to politics on three levels (local, state, and federal), and can usually tell you who’s running.  I feel I do a pretty good job vetting all the candidates, with some being disqualified earlier than others; because of this, I have actually voted for someone actually on the ballot.  I’m not entirely dismissive of anyone that makes it on, but it’s pretty damn close.

 

This is one advantage that I feel write-in voting has:  It eases a lot of internal turmoil and mental anguish that can be invoked from not being completely in love with your party’s candidate.  I believe that many voters have this perception of <b>needing</b> to choose between two candidates, as that’s the impression that seems to be built up by many sources (media, peers, etc).  With a write-in vote, the choices expand to the limits of one’s capability to imagine.

 

It’s also great fun.  I’ll be relaxed on Tuesday.

Let’s try this again, with a little blegging

7 Oct

Two years makes a big difference.

When I started this site in 2011, along with accompanying social media, I finally decided to take the plunge on this idea I had & go public with it. At the time, I was employed at a local mental health agency that paid a salary that wasn’t meeting the financial demands I had at the time; as a result, I started two part-time jobs that supplemented my income from my day job. Since then, I’ve dropped down to just two jobs, have seen pay increases from both employers, and achieved some advancement at the part-timer. I’ve also seen an increase in my financial obligations, due to life events (and damn expensive ones at that), and so the slog is perpetuated. These 60 to 75-hour workweeks have been preventing me from doing a lot of things in my life I promised myself: More travel, more time with friends and family, and this. Two years later, my circumstances are not greatly changed; therefore, I decided this summer to stop this current work/work cycle I’m in, and one part of the strategy to get out is to focus time and effort, when I can, here.

The idea to encourage others to write in their votes has been brewing in my head for 10 years now. In the past decade, the idea has evolved, thanks to vigorous debate with those from multiple economic, political, and social strata; education, both formal (a Bachelors degree) and informal (read: teh Interwebz); tons of thinking, planning, and conceptualizing that was made manifest as far out as my brain’s blood barrier. All of this groundwork has caused me to procrastinate, true; but it has also built up too much pressure for me to ignore anymore, and I have to write and create, lest I blow up and burn out; so, as this year’s elections come closer and closer, I intend to try to generate more and more content when I have micro-sized periods of free time. Problem is, putting stuff online is like shouting at the sky: I’m ranting, but it’s meaningless if nobody is poking their head over here. If you’re reading this, odds are you are one of the first real live people doing so, and thanks for doing so. If you like what you see, feel free to repost me wherever you like; and yes, that includes bathroom stalls (one of the most entertaining write-in forums one can experience). Also, feel free to donate at the button to the right: All proceeds will go to making this whole project of mine a real live organization.

More than anything, though, help me stop shouting at the sky.

Why Write It In – Deus In the Voting Booth

19 Oct

This is, I feel, the most common reason why the majority of people don’t vote. This has a few sub-topics on its own, so I want to address each of the topics by themselves.

Late into a warm summer’s night eight years ago, my father and I were discussing inherent flaws in both American politics and culture. For an hour or so, it was spirited but polite, until I introduced the idea of write-in voting as an instrument of change and expression. My father, a self-proclaimed Dittohead, went instantly from spirited debater to full-on Hulkrage in a few minutes. For the next four hours, this man, from whom I learned to engage in rational, evidence-based discussion, threw the most guano-laced arguments against the whole concept of writing it in: “It doesn’t get counted.” “It’s undemocratic!” “It’s illegallll!” (Even without the unnecessary drawing out of the last syllable, the last one was my favorite of the bunch). After that evening, I’ve never discussed politics with anyone in my clan that is not from my generation.

Until recently, I never wondered why my father had such a Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation over the topic: I chalked it up to my father’s politically conservative background. In the past two years, however, I’ve witnessed the same metamorphosis from the following individuals:

  • A self-proclaimed Socialist, mid-20s
  • Tea Party members, late-30s to mid-50s
  • Multiple members of the mental health community

Not a lot, but the wide disparities in political and public involvement in this small grouping is enough for me to unscientifically observe that this phenomenon is not reserved to just one small part of the political spectrum.

I was perpelexed: Why such vitriol? What was causing this near-fanatic fervor of a simple sentence, “Write in your vote”? It was a sudden flash of memory that provided me with the answer.

In my 8th grade Civics class, in the two weeks leading up to Election Day, I remember the teacher drilling the sentiment above in our head EVERY DAY until the first Tuesday of November, where we got a reprieve because that was Parent-Teacher Conference Day (giving we students the day off). For the rest of the semester, he was a very laid-back and congenial guy, but for those two weeks, he delivered consistently fanatic tirades about the sanctity of this hallowed event. I think he missed his true calling as a Baptist minister, choosing instead junior high education. This was a man, however, who loved and admired the the United States’ form of government and politics so much that he chose to dedicate his career to spreading it like holy scripture to youth that were in the midst of raging hormones. To him, voting was the equivalent of Communion, and he wanted to be sure that, when we turned 18 years of age, we could also sip from the cup as well; unfortunately, most of us now fear that we’d choke on the wafer.

There has been ample research to show that we’re a bit hardwired for spiritual experiences. For these extremely vocal opponents, voting seems to be like a mystical experience for them. If you have ever had to use a lever machine, it feels much like being in Confession: You’re put in a small, cloistered room (the voting booth) that happens to be in a larger, subdued room (the polling location). You are allowed to make extremely personal, significant choices (votes) that serve a larger Being or Purpose (Democracy, Civic Duty, etc), and no-one ever gets to find out how you voted. Looking at it this way, voting could be like communing with Divinity. For you atheists out there, think of it like sugar-free anything: You get to have that religious-like experience without needing any religion. Either way, it’s a real kick.

The Whys

19 Oct

I want everyone to write in their vote. I could state other obvious facts here. To make it easier, I’m making two categories:

The Whys- Reasons why you should either write in your vote, or just go vote.

The Why Nots- Rationalizations why people don’t vote.

Moving forward now.

Grumpy Day in D.C.

3 Aug

I’m going to try to not mention current events here, unless they are relevant to the main focus of this blog. That being said…

After weeks of grandstanding, debates, hissy fits, and cliffhanger music that seemed to be playing in the head of every newscaster, a bill to raise the U.S.’ debt ceiling was passed.

Glory, glory, hallelujah. *blows party favor whistle*

The most amusing thing about the aftermath is that no elected official in D.C. is happy about this being over. Most speeches made around the Capitol and the White House all seem to say the same thing: “I don’t like it, but it’s better than angry mobs with pitchforks at my next meeting with constituents.” One would think that, at the very least, someone would pop a confetti-filled balloon in one of the Chambers. It seems like a Calvinist version of reality has entered the Beltway.

What I hope voters will do is ask themselves a few simple questions:

  • Did my elected representatives in Congress vote the way I had hoped? (House votes here, Senate votes here)
  • Did they seem to be an individual, or just a follower of their caucus?
  • Did they behave in a way I felt was, in a word, AWESOME?

If the answer to any of these questions left a mental distaste in your brain, don’t turn off your inner monologue immediately. Inspect this ick…savor its texture and shading. See if it leads itself to other thoughts, however different or disquieting. The important thing here is to allow yourself this introspection.

Once you’re done, there is one more step to complete: Remember the conclusions you reach when you enter the polling booth the next time their offices are up for election. For most of us, this won’t be for another 15 months; but by that time, the fruit of this meditation will be added to other fruits, which may be added to more results of more thinking sessions, until a cornucopia bursts forth with a decision. Maybe that decision will be one that sees all the names on the ballot, and you realize that all of them have acted or will act the same way that leads to another Grumpy Day in D.C.

If that happens, don’t settle for what’s there. If you have been disaffected, disillusioned, or just dissed by all the hoopla created by this “debate”, let ’em know. Your most powerful voice is in that voting space, and let it proclaim, “None of you are worth my approval!”

Afterwards, check the box for the write-in option, and write in someone that can meet your criteria for the three questions above. You’ll feel much better, and reduce the chances of having a Grumpy Day.

Everything has a beginning

31 Jul

So. This is the inaugral post to this blog, which is the first public manifestation of an idea that has been brewing in my head. For a very…

very…

very…long time. The idea is a simple one, but does not appear to be commonly used as a positive force. I’ve never understood this, because it seems to be present in every federal and state election, and many local elections. It is a simple option that can be used to say many things; although the meaning may be only a personal one, those tend to be the ones that have the greatest impact on one’s life.

The idea is this: If you don’t like who is on the ballot, write in someone you do.

I hope this concept grows over time, in both size and stature. Getting it out is the first step of this journey. Where it goes is something yet to be seen…I am curious.

Hello. Won’t you come along?