I get you. I get you precisely because I am you.
You and I, we’re in this vast electoral wasteland together. A barren, unknown, unwanted place. No place to call home. No voting soul. And, it sucks.
We’re pissed, too, ‘cuz we’re good citizens, right? We pay our taxes. We color inside the lines. We play nice with the other kids. We floss.
And, traditionally, every two to four years we’ve walked into the voting booth, pulled the lever, and then proudly sauntered out brandishing a red-white-and-blue sticker prominently ensconced on our shirts telling the world what we just did. But, this time, it’s just different.
We are this country’s new electoral orphans. No voting home. Oh, and did I mention this is a wasteland?
It’s like we’re the most eligible bachelor, yet we have no bachelorettes waiting in the mansion. We want to give our “ballot love” to someone — anyone — but we just can’t. We’re like Sonny without Cher. A dog without a bone. Miley Cyrus without cannabis. Lost.
A few songs come to mind, giving a lyrical nod to our now-disconnected predicament. The first, Ironic, by Alanis Morrissette, states: “It’s like rain on your wedding day. It’s a free ride, when you’ve already paid.” Or, if you’re of a certain age, you might remember the old Howard Jones one-hit-wonder lyric: “You can feel the punishment but you can’t commit the sin.”
Sound familiar? Feel familiar? With Trump’s latest character-based kerfuffle-du-jour, you’ve got all this pent-up electoral energy locked and loaded, but nowhere to inject it.
So now what? To borrow from (and slightly bastardize) Bill Shakespeare, “To whom should we complain?”
Well, complaining sucks. Complaining doesn’t build character. Doing something about it does. To execute, though, you’ll need to bring your focus inward. For starters:
- Don’t give in to fear. I have traditionally voted the top of the Republican ticket for president. Not this time; I just can’t. Yet, during this cursed election cycle, I have staunch Republican friends telling me now how, if I don’t vote Trump, this country will be like Venezuela or Greece in a few short years. Have you ever noticed how pronounced the vapid fear-slingers seem to slither out of the woodwork in each election — Chicken-Littleing people into voting submission. Psychotherapists note that real orphans feel similar narratives, only at a much more personal level, acting this out in a “learned helplessness” kind of way. It’s like the elephant who, at a young age, had a large chain yoked onto his pubescent pachyderm isthmus, limiting him to lumber around only in a 30-foot radius. Even though he could, years later, easily rip that same stake out of the ground, the elephant won’t go beyond that 30-foot arc simply because he was effectively conditioned to act only within those limited confines. Don’t give into that. Have the electoral balls to think differently and break from tradition if it’s the right thing to do. If there’s ever a time to think differently, this is this time.
- Ignore those tired “party line” threats. On the other side of the fence, a Democratic friend of my parents once said: “No man is bigger than the party,” which, translated, means: just shut-up and get in line to vote a straight-party ticket. The subtext of this fear-peddling rhetoric is: “Not voting at all or writing in a candidate is just like voting for the opposition.” Well, I gotta throw the bullshit flag on that. We’re just too much of a thinking individual, you and I, to fall for that invective FUD threat.
- Be principled. You are writing your own, electoral signature, so own it. Be proud of it. If you want to write in somebody else, do that. If you simply want to pull zero presidential levers, go for it. Not in the spirit of protest, but rather, in the spirit of “there’s no place else to go, and this is the best option.” Since we’re on a roll, you could even flip the electoral switch and vote for what’s traditionally been your electoral foe if you actually think that’s what’s best of the remaining options.
Remember, if Hillary wins (not my first choice), chances are the economy will essentially stay the same (not great, yet still some life), but she’ll likely have a command of the facts and be able to do an informed-yet-garden-variety job as Prez. Oh, and the Supreme Court tips liberal for the next 20 years. Ugh.
If Trump wins (puh-leeze God, no), I have to believe that there are enough safeguards in place such that he won’t be able to call one of his Yes Man Minions to decipher the nuclear football codes at 3:37am after some remote despot tweets belittling prose intentionally targeted to presage Trump’s membrane-thick ego.
Crazy, ain’t it? In a country of ONE-THIRD OF A BILLION PEOPLE, these two are the cream of the political crop.
I’m owning my vote — no doubt casting my ballot for a yet-to-be-determined write-in candidate with zero chance to win, and that’s okay with me. Therapeutic, really. Cleansing, even.
Here’s what it all gets down to. You need to be able to look into the mirror (or your child squarely in the eyes) and state that did your part, you did your best — for yourself, your family, your country — letting the results fall where they may.
Be deaf to the fear and embrace this uncharted place, doing what matters to your soul and leaving the rest up to God, the universe, Festivus or whatever deity it is that you genuflect to. At least then you’ll be able to live with yourself on Wednesday, November 9.
To think otherwise would be useless. To act otherwise would be folly. To vote otherwise would deflate your character.
My integrity matters too much to me. And, since I am you, I know that your integrity matters a ton to you, too.
Now go do the right thing and vote your conscience.
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