Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hex the vote (part 1)

 Every couple of years, Americans look at the television set, or their computer, or smart phone, and say to themselves, “Damn, American politics is fucked up.” OK, maybe that is too much of a generalization. Some Americans say that every day while others might never notice that politics is a mighty strange business. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can’t figure out how our system of government works—which is not very surprising considering that not even members of our own government can  explain our government in terms that a five year-old can understand—which in turn, says nothing about the intelligence of people in foreign countries, and everything about the fact that our system of government was designed by people who did not trust any form of government that they were familiar with and therefore, decided to create a brand new way to mess things up.

In the United States, we have a democracy. And by democracy, I mean that we cast votes for people who are supposed to represent our interests, and for little key chunks of law that entire pyramids of legalistic goo are built upon. It is a representative democracy.

Our representative democracy exists for two reasons. One, the technology for a direct democracy, where one person’s opinion equals the exact same weight as someone else’s opinion, and a simple majority carries the day, simply did not exist when our system of government was created; tallied votes could only travel as fast as a horse mired in a swamp. Two, the founding fathers did not believe that everyone’s knowledge of government and the law was equal, therefore, they gave more weight to the opinions of “political experts” than to your average tavern stool sitter.

Now, let’s be clear about something: direct democracy would lead to our extinction. Take for instance, the issue of witchcraft. Given that many people believe that we should be a pure Christian nation, believing that the founding fathers meant for the Bible to be the guide of law in this country, anything that goes against what they think the Bible says, in the minds of these people, should be against the law. And given that the Bible says that one should not allow witches to live, well, it does not look good for the witches. Don’t bother to argue that those who embrace the Bible are selective in what they believe that the Bible outlaws; for instance, bacon loving tattooed men are outlawed; such arguments are ignored by those who insist that the Bible is the end-all of morality and law. And the people who believe such things, if given the route of direct democracy, would vote to throw witches in jail before dousing them with gasoline and lighting matches.

Fortunately, direct democracy was feared by the founding fathers. In order to jail and burn witches, first you have to convince enough people that it is a good idea. Second, you would have to change the Constitution, which contains an amendment that hints that freedom of religion, even nasty unchristian religions, is allowed; because otherwise that nasty judicial branch might strike down your law, and tell you that you are not allowed to roast marshmallows over a burning witch. Those nasty founding fathers simply did not trust people to play nice with one another. Unfortunately, the fear of direct democracy also gave rise to professional politicians and experts.

At top of the United States’ political heap is the office of the President. Every four years, we have a Presidential election, including a campaign cycle that seems to just be getting longer and sillier. The voters have two says in this matter, once in the primaries and caucuses, and once during the actual election itself. Bookmarking these events are enough political ads, debates, and other strange nonsense that one finds themselves believing that American politics is overseen by a zombie donkey and zombie elephant because there is no way that either animal could put up with that much nonsense and still be alive.

During this process of selecting a President, not everyone’s vote counts the same. In one of those political arenas that requires a political pundit to explain, the votes of certain states matter more than those of other states. And in a couple of these caucuses, recently we saw a coin flip, or card draw, determine the final vote. Plus, there is this strange concept of super-delegates, where one person’s vote (select elected officials) count as much as thousands of other votes made by ordinary people. On top of this, we have the Electoral College, where the votes of certain states are worth more than others. And after all this, if things go really odd, one can end up with the Supreme Court deciding who is President.

Given all this complicated procedure, one can easily come to the conclusion that one’s vote does not count. That is not true; it is just that our system is designed so that the masses who only think about politics every four years can’t completely take over. Our system is designed to be run by professional politicians, but—and this is when you have to remember what type of democracy we actually have—they are supposed to represent the people.

And in order for them to represent us, they have to know that we exist. If we want our opinions about how this country should be run, and what laws and regulations are needed, and what programs funded, to be considered by the professional politicians, then we have to be visible as a voting bloc. Politicians need to know that we exist. Now, while it is too late to get involved (or interested) in certain parts of the process this time around, it is not too late for the next stage of the process. And there is always the next cycle. It is never too late to get involved.

Therefore, I encourage you to register to vote (if you are not already registered); learn what you can about the issues and candidates, and vote whenever you can.

A useful site to learn more, including voter registration deadlines, is Rock the Vote:…/voter-registration-deadlines.h…

Another educational site is .


Tabatha said...

Great post Morgan. People should go out and vote. Especially since presidents choose Supreme Court nominees for life-time appointments and these people get to decide things which are important to us like whether women get to decide their own health care choices, LGBT rights, medical marijuana, social justice, constitutional rights, etc. etc...

Imperator David Griffin said...

Everyone should indeed get out and vote. We can make a huge difference, especially at a local level. Here in Pahrump, we got tired of the town board stealing tax money so we voted them out of existance. Where we have less influence is with the Presidential shell game. Just ask any Sanders supporter who has watched again and again Sanders win a state just to watch Clinton walk off with a majority of delegates anyway. The Republican party is no better. In 2012, they rigged the game by changing the rules so that Ron Paul's delegates could not count at the convention. And now they are openly declaring that they will crown whatever nominee the establishment wants, regardless of what the people vote. Even though the presidential shell game is hopelessly rigged, what else can we do but get out and vote anyway? Except observe, and face the truth, that is.