Tag Archives: voting

Let me tell you something about the midterm elections

We’re all supposed to vote a week from Tuesday. And that’s great, just really terrific. But what a tease, an election with nothing at stake. I can’t wait until these phony elections are over, so we can start doing some serious politicking two years from now. Hell yeah, I’m talking presidential elections. They’re like the Olympics, or the World Cup, only they last for like a year and a half, and instead of focusing all of our energies toward faraway countries in a spirit of mostly benign sports competition, we get to wage personal warfare against friends, family, and strangers alike.


I’m serious, I’m talking all out war. It starts innocently enough. Sure, at this point in time we only have an idea about some of the men and women thinking about how they potentially might want to start considering setting up an exploratory committee to test the waters regarding the viability of a book tour to measure a theoretical dropping of the hat into the presidential contest. But in the coming months, once this midterm nonsense is out of the way, we’re going to start hearing from all sorts of people who think they have what it takes.

They’re going to start scheduling debates on both sides of the political spectrum, and sure, you’ll see the big names, I’m sure Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie will be standing out front. But there’s also going to be like all of these governors and senators and other random jokers that you’ve never heard of before.

And they’re all going to dig deep and start piling on the front-runners. It’s going to be a classic race to the bottom, with everyone trying to out-America one another, only talking about the most contentious of popular talking points: abortion, guns, taxes, Christmas.

By the time they narrow down the playing field, everyone paying attention is going to be foaming at the mouth, convinced that this is the year that the fate of our nation will be irreparably sealed. And even though every election comes down to these so-called “independent voters,” everybody already has their minds made up. Right now, right this second, even though nobody is officially in the race, I promise you that everyone knows exactly who they’re going to vote for come 2016.

Sure, everything looks calm now, but get ready, because this time next year, you’ll go on the Internet, you’ll log onto Facebook, and everyone you know is going to be putting up recycled headlines and overblown mischaracterizations about the other side. People you haven’t spoken to in years will be popping up on your news feed giving the world their expert two cents on why everything that you believe in shows that you’re an idiot.

I’m sure I’ll be doing it too. Right now I’m acting like I’m above all of this stuff, and sure, maybe I’ll pay some lip service to being respectful and keeping my opinions to myself, but there are always at least a few points during every campaign cycle where everybody gets caught up, a particular controversy or a quote taken totally out of context, and I’ll dive in, guns blazing, family lines forgotten, friendship irreparably destroyed.

And then the election will be over and nothing is going to change at all. Because look at what we’re dealing with today, Ebola, celebrity plastic surgery, none of this stuff has anything to do with politics. But whatever, like I said, it’s easy to talk like I’m above the fray when there’s nothing else going on. Midterm elections are boring. Nobody ever goes out to vote, and you wind up with only the most cranky senior citizens dictating who goes to Congress. I’m done ranting. If you need me, I’ll be outside, washing my car, polishing my bumper to get it ready for all of those inflammatory 2016 bumper stickers, hopefully I’ll get to really piss off some complete stranger behind me paying five bucks a gallon at the gas station.

Stop bossing me around. You’re not in charge of me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. There’s only one person that’s the boss of me. There’s only one person that I’ll listen to. And that one person is nobody. I won’t listen to anybody. If you ever tell me what to do I’ll just do the exact opposite. Unless of course you’re thinking that can fool me into doing whatever you want by telling me to do the opposite. In this case I’ll recognize your true intent behind the clever semantic trick, and I’ll do what you’re telling me to do, but only because I’ll know that you’re really wanting me to do the opposite and so, yeah, just do me a favor and don’t tell me to do or not to do anything, because I’ll never listen. Like I’ll listen, I’ll hear you, but I’ll willfully do whatever it is that you don’t want me to do, regardless of how you phrase it. What I’m getting at here is, you’re not in charge of me.

I’m not being defiant. Well, I am being defiant. Or maybe you’re the one being defiant. And don’t even try to be nice to me, because it’s still bossing me around, and I’m not somebody that you can just come up to and say, “Hey Rob, it’s so nice to see you. Have a seat and let me get you a drink.” All right? Because, one, don’t tell me to sit down. If I want to sit down, I’ll sit down without you having to tell me to have a seat. And two, let you get me a snack? How about let me let you watch me get myself a snack. Because who says you’re in charge? What are you the mayor?

I went to vote for President last month, and when I got the ballot, it told me to “fill in the box completely.” Stupid piece of paper. If I’m not going to listen to a person, if I’m going to ignore that joker who tried to get me to stand in line, to sign my name at the bottom of that form, to stop asking other people who they were going to vote for, to please stand behind the curtain, to give the other people their privacy while casting their votes, what makes you think I’m going to listen to a dumb piece of paper? I don’t get bossed around by people, I’m definitely not getting bossed around by a piece of paper. You know who wrote that piece of paper? Some clown, trying to tell everybody what to do. You know where that piece of paper came from? A tree. Who do you think I am, standing on line all day so I can get told what to do by a tree? By a dead tree?

Come on, I bought a can of Coke and I was just about to take a big sip when I noticed on top of the can, on top of the logo it said, “Enjoy” Coca-Cola. Get the fuck out of here. Why don’t you enjoy Coca-Cola? I’m the one who paid a dollar for that can. And now I’m getting forced into reading some sort of a simplified instruction manual? Enjoy? I made a grimace, a really strong face and I choked that Coke down, purposefully making myself laugh halfway through that big gulp, laughing so hard that the Coke, all of those bubbles, they got caught up in my nose and started spraying everywhere, and it hurt, it was all up my sinuses, and there was Coke all over my hands, and it dried and just got really sticky. Nosiree, I most certainly did not enjoy that can of Coke. And I went online afterwards to write a strongly worded email to Coke, to tell them to just sell me a can of soda without all of the fascism, the bossing around, but I got distracted by a feature on the web site that showed pictures of Coke cans throughout the ages, and this one can from a long time ago, it didn’t even say “Enjoy,” it just said, “Drink.” Fuck that shit.

Do you know how much of a fit I used to throw in kindergarten when my teacher put on the hokey pokey? Put this in, put that in, do this, do that. I can’t bring anything on an airplane, because I’m not about to let some flight attendant tell me to put it away during takeoff. When I’m driving I’ll stop at every green light and go at every red one. What else … do you know how many trains I’ve missed, walking up to the car when that conductor goes, “All aboard!” Chill out dude, and don’t tell me what to do. So I’ll just turn around. You get all aboard. Bossy control freak jerk.

I just donated a pint of blood and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes right after. Because try and guess what that nurse told me to avoid for about an hour or so after the donation. Just guess. Yep. Smoking. Just, seriously, don’t boss me around. Just stop telling me what to do. Just leave me alone and don’t talk to me and don’t tell me to do or not do anything.

Rocking the vote

I just rocked the vote. It’s always such a surreal experience. You put so much weight on one little action, and it only happens once in a while, so that when you finally do it, it just comes and goes so fast, leaving you feeling almost a little hollow afterward. That’s kind of dramatic. But wouldn’t you agree that there’s a ton of build up for a two minute procedure that, when you step back from it, never really feels as grand as you thought it would be?

I imagined myself heroically. First of all, I got up much earlier than normal. I guess it really depends on what your definition of early is, but for a guy who normally wakes up closer to ten everyday, I thought seven-thirty was pretty impressive. Yeah, I had set the alarm to seven, and another one for seven-fifteen, but whatever, seven-thirty was, wow, I’m still pinching myself to make sure this isn’t one of those snooze-button induced dreams where you think you’re getting up, going into the shower, making breakfast, going to vote, and then all of the sudden you roll over and it’s nine and you’re still in bed. Does that happen to anybody else? I’m just going to go ahead and assume that, of course it does.

So I get to the polling place and there are lines of people waiting to direct everybody else. I’m pretty sure the poll workers outnumbered the voters by a margin of two to one. And it goes without saying, because everybody always talks about this, but all of the volunteers are senior citizens, and you can just tell how pumped they are to be running the show.

“This is it,” I could imagine themselves getting all motivated for the big day, “Once every four years, we’re back in charge! No computers! No cell phones! Just mountains of paperwork and lots of people to be corralled into long lines! Let’s go out there and show these whippersnappers how to get some work done!”

The system is, whatever, it seems stupid to complain about a process that wasn’t really that bad or that long, one that only happens once in a while anyway. But still, just like the last time I voted, I walked through the door and there were more than a few different lines of people. They asked me for my address and the first letter of my last name. And then they told me to wait in line B. There was only one person in line B, which was great for me. But I looked around, and line D had people snaking outside of the polling place. It didn’t make any sense. But I wasn’t complaining, because I got out very quick.

This was the first time that I voted that there weren’t any giant voting machines. It used to be so cool, you’d switch in all of the levers for the candidates you wanted to vote for, and then you had to pull a giant mechanical arm, so the machine could tally all of your votes. You could feel the whole thing rocking from the inside, this big metal booth, bigger than a soda machine.

This time it was just a scantron. You filled out the bubbles, and then slid it into a little voting scanner machine. I missed that visceral sensation of having voted, having made voting this physical exercise. With the old machines, you really needed to pull, making it feel like you had actually accomplished something. After I slid in my paper, I actually said, “That’s it? I’m done?” and had to be pointed towards the exit, “Yeah, that’s it. Now move it, line D is getting restless.”

A couple of things. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but not like it’s a state secret either, I voted down party lines, not because I’m a loyal partisan, but just because I didn’t really feel like it would be worth it to vote for any third party candidates. Best case scenario, I’d be helping the opposition. Another minor point, there were two judge elections where the Democrats were running unopposed. I filled in the bubble for the first one, but then I immediately wished that I hadn’t. If this guy is going to win anyway, why give him my vote? It’s just a huge joke, really. Why even have an election for that position? I could imagine this guy running for reelection years from now claiming, “The people love me. Look how many votes I got!” when it was really just a matter of default luck.

But voting is a good thing. I always like to vote. I always like feeling like I’m marginally a part of the political process, of America. I wish it were more based on the popular vote, because I hate to think that my presidential vote “doesn’t count.” Because yeah, it was much more satisfying to vote for Senator, to vote for those incompetent clowns that run the show in Albany.

Random: For the 2004 election I was still a college student. I had this one class called American Pluralism, all about America and stuff. Anyway, right before the election, the professor held an informal vote, everybody wrote down who they were voting for and passed it to the prof, who tallied it up, wasting a solid ten minutes of class time. He announced the results, “OK, so we have X for Bush, X for Kerry, and … one vote for MacGyver.” And he said it totally straight-faced, as if he had no idea that he had just been punked. The whole class burst out into laughter and, I have to tell you, it was such a satisfying laugh, like I felt like my insides were being massaged and worked out.

Before I wrap it up here, I do have one suggestion. There should be a voting machine, but it’s like a wall, and there will be spots in the wall painted red or blue or whatever color your party is. And you have to punch through the wall (it’s going to be plywood, nothing too strong,) to retrieve your ballot for that party. And that way, you could really feel like you voted, even more than the old voting machines, like your hand will be really sore for the rest of the day and maybe even a little cut up. “A small price to pay,” you could tell everyone. And that could just be maybe an optional method, you know, only if you wanted to. So, just for the future, that’s something that the board of elections should consider.