So, there was an election this week, and I for one, am glad it’s over.
Listen: I’m all for fulfilling my civic duty, but I couldn't wait for this election cycle to be over. I love the internet, I love checking in on my Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (Sorry Tumblr- you still have not won my heart), but this election cycle had me ready to throw out my phone, my iPad, and my computer… straight out the window.
It all started a couple of weeks before election day- or whenever early voting began… that’s when I started seeing the posts…
“I early voted!”
“Exercise your right!”
I felt like I was living inside MTV circa 1996… everyone was rocking the vote… which is cool. I love that I have civic minded friends and family. I love that they have their opinions (99% of them are Democrats), and I agree with most of them, and I love that they are excited about voting- but honestly, for the first time ever- I just didn't care. I didn't care who won, or who lost. I didn't care who was running. I didn’t care that you voted. I didn't care that I voted, because for the first time ever I had the overwhelming thought, “what does it matter?”
Oh- I know what you’re thinking. North Korea doesn’t vote… why don’t you go vote there? Or how about rigged Iranian elections? What if we lived in a country that rigged their elections (you say as if gerrymandering isn't a thing… or that whole hanging chad, Florida 2000 election debacle didn't happen, or forcing people to have current government issued IDs to vote- which I actually don’t have that much of a problem with- I like having an ID- I’m certainly not one of those off the grid types… but you do understand how forcing people to register themselves with the state kind of flies in the face of that whole Home of the Free, equal rights thing right?)
I’m happy to live in a place where at least we, as a people, get to at least trick ourselves into believing we can make a difference- but I don’t think I’m falling for the trick anymore.
The government shut down for 16 days last year. 16 days because the House and Senate and the President couldn't agree on whether or not people have the right to affordable healthcare (or how to pay for it… but really let’s be honest- it was all people have a right to affordable healthcare vs. insurance companies and clinical research companies really like making lots of money and want to continue making lots of money and in order to do that they need to control the market on how much healthcare costs).
There are plenty of examples out there on the internet how the two political parties aren't even trying to get along, and I really don’t care whose team you’re backing- these representatives and senators are far more interested in being right than doing right (ooohhhh!)…
And that has trickled down everywhere. I love my home state of Texas, but I hate my home state of Texas.
I wouldn’t say I bleed liberal- but I’d say most of my major organs are of a blue tint. I was glued to the livestream of the Texas Senate last year when Wendy Davis stood on her feet for 10 hours filibustering a bill that would have outlawed all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas (for those of you that don’t know, Texas is big- so only having five on anything in the state of Texas means there might as well be none of that thing)… and I was proud of Wendy Davis, and I was proud of the groundswell of support she garnered. Of course it meant nothing. The bill was still passed into law closing all but five abortion clinics (a law that would eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court)… and I think it was that heroism in the face of adversity which ultimately lead to absolutely nothing that made me start to think, “What are we doing?”
Wendy Davis made the Mizuno Wave Runner the most famous women’s marathon shoe of 2013 for nothing other than to energize the base… kind of- except for white women(only 32% of white women voted for Davis, I’m shocked too). Barack Obama passed landmark legislation so everyone could have affordable healthcare and the Republican’s challenged took the law to the Supreme Court (where they upheld the law) and then they shut down the government. Earlier this year the House vowed (and voted) for the first time ever to sue the President (though they can’t find a lawyer who is willing to take on that kind of case). So- how did we get here to this level of polarization?
I’m certainly not the guy to tell you how we got here. I’m neither a political pundit, nor a historian, but I have done some rudimentary research and I can tell you that districts that are gerrymandered to vote way left or way right are central to the problem- and it doesn’t help that there are a slew of 24-hour cable news channels that have long given up on reporting the news and simply spin op-ed pieces as news, and because they have the word “News” superimposed somewhere on the television screen people buy whatever the talking head is saying as fact.
We’ve simply become too polarized as a people. The internet has given us all the freedom to say whatever we want (I sense the irony as I’m typing this) whenever we want, and we all have a voice and no one wants to compromise on that voice, especially when it comes to politics.
Earlier today I watched a press conference where Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “…my job isn’t to get along with the President… My job is to listen to my people.” Politics have officially become a reality show. How many times have you heard, “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win.” That’s essentially what Boehner is saying... Washington has become no different than the television show Survivor.
And even if the good guys (which is a relative term) do win- like say for instance in Denton, TX- which was the first city in the country to enact a fracking ban (fracking being the practice of drilling underground, breaking up shale in order to get to the natural gas that resides within said shale- which might cause all kinds of environmental problems, and maybe earthquakes, and possibly upset the mole people). Nearly 59% of residents came out in favor of the ban, which will go into effect on December 2nd… maybe… multiple law suits have already been filed looking to lift the ban, and Christi Craddick the chairwoman for the Texas Railroad Commission has been quoted as saying, “It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s… We’re going to continue permitting up there because that’s my job.”
So there you go voters… even when you exercise your right, it seems as if it doesn’t matter because it seems as if people are going to do what they want anyway… and if they don’t get their way, well then it’s lawsuits and screaming and yelling, and just doing whatever the hell you want anyway.
I’m sure this all seems like sour grapes… it isn’t. It’s just me saying I just don’t care anymore... somebody’s really going to have to wow me next election cycle, otherwise I’m just going to take a vacation to Canada (though that seems like it would be too cold for me in November… and I’d probably feel guilty and still want to be around to vote… dammit America, I can’t quit you… but I will mute everyone who posts a selfie with an “I voted sticker” because that’s just self-congratulatory… and really don’t care what you do with your life).