17 October, 2008

The First and the Last - Venture into Politics

I have a confession.  I love politics, but not in the way you might imagine.

I love politics because I love the study of government and laws.  It fascinates me to step back and watch politics in action whether it be an election or the ways and means leaders will attempt to pass items through Congress.  The psychology of politics; the study of governments and systems; the language and imagery used to win; and the passion that people invest in a candidate - these are the things I love. 

I don't write or discuss politics often.  Perhaps it is because I live here and well, politics is a way of life.  I am exposed to politics on every level.  Or maybe it is that I like discussing politics from an academic stand point where many enjoy the discussions because they have a passionate opinion one way or the other.  I appreciate this passion and the strength of the conviction that drives it.  That said, I don't talk politics often or outside of an academic conversation.  I don't allow emotion to play into such discussions. 

But of late, the election is what everyone is discussing.  From the dentist office to the internet to the radio and even in my own kitchen, the election and politics are the topic of choice.  It is an interesting election - an election that has lasted so very long and will end with an interesting outcome whichever candidate wins. 

One of my moms friends has decided that she won't vote this year.  She is protesting for her own reasons - reasons which she has a right to have! 

A friend is trying to find the candidate with something, anything, that fits his philosophy.  He wants to vote for someone.  I know others who are voting against one party or the other, not liking either choice really.  They feel that voting for a third party is a "wasted vote" or is "throwing away a vote."

it is this idea that stuck in my mind - this idea that voting for a third party is throwing away a vote.  This simple idea, probably widely held, has me talking about politics on my site.  (Will wonders never cease?)

Are we throwing away a vote or wasting our vote if we vote for a third party candidate?

I suggest that we are not.  Every vote in this country counts.  IN recent elections, we have seen just how important each vote is and that each is counted.  Voting for a third party, does count.  It is not a wasted vote but a vote for someone different.  It is, perhaps, a vote for someone you can like for the office over voting against one person or the other.  perhaps it is a vote in favorite of the electoral system in general but for neither of the dominant candidates.  Perhaps that third party vote says that we value the right to vote but we want the system to change; the candidates to be selected differently.  For some, that third party choice might mean great intellectual integrity.  For others, it is believing in the Republic, the government, and the Constitution.  Voting, regardless of the party we choose, is essential - and what a joy it is to be able to cast your vote for someone you like; someone in whom you truly believe! 

"Who are we voting for?" the Diva is fond of asking lately.  I ask her, in return, who she is voting for as she is old enough to start forming her own opinions.  Her opinions might differ from mine (as do so many others) but the key is that she learn the importance of voting.   

Voting is a right that we enjoy and a right that we need to exercise as often as possible but minimally in the presidential elections.  As I explained to the Diva (who votes with me), what happens in the booth is between the voter and the machine.  No one knows how I vote unless I choose to share that information.  This privacy is something to cherish.  This privacy - this idea of a secret ballot - is something to protect; it makes us different from many other countries. 

The key, perhaps more than for whom we vote, is that we vote. 


liz said...

I couldn't agree more!!! Although I feel rather strongly about who I will be voting for in a couple weeks, I am much less concerned about who others are voting for as long as they do vote.

I think political banter/debate is fun and often encourages me to look at things differently. And you're right, in this area, we're bombarded by it.

So I agree - Inform yourselves and exercise your right!!

mama llama said...

I agree, to teach the importance of active practice of our Right to vote, where in so many places globally so many people cannot enjoy this freedom, is key. No matter what.

Here in Political Mecca, of course, you are right; the air is pregnant with the question, with the banter, with the anticipation and the strong feelings on one side or the other.

I am actually looking forward to watching the results come in...AFTER my Tuesday night class ends!

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to meet you today. You are good for my soul. We need to make this a habit, in some form or another.

Be well, TE.

Aaron said...

This belief that voting for anyone other than a democrat or a republican is "wasting" a vote or "throwing a vote away" is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard uttered during election seasons.

The American public has been sold into this false notion that they really only have two parties to vote for. All suckers, the lot of you. :/

dadshouse said...

Is politics an east coast thing? When I did grad school on the east coast, I was amazed at the buzz that followed everything in Washington. Here in California, we don't talk it so much. We barely follow what's going on. The "P" word makes my eyes glaze over. But on the east coast - it's buzz buzz buzz!!

btw - how many people besides me thinks Joe the Plumber was a plant set up by McCain's cronies?

Crazy Computer Dad said...

My son constantly asks me who I am voting for. I use the questions as an opportunity to have him explain how he sees the candidates and tell me what he knows.

Edgar said...

TE - that's wonderful that your daughter has such an interest in politics at such a young age. May that last her whole life!

My friends note that this is the most important election in a generation (although in retrospect, 2000 and 2004 were pretty important too, given the messes that Bush and Cheney have created.)

Smaller parties do have representation at the local level in certain places, so such votes there can make a difference. At the national and state levels, we would need to establish parliamentary democracies to have a similar benefit. Doing so would certainly focus the accountability for action (or inaction) far more than our current system does. However, we would stray from Jefferson's maxim that the government that governs best governs least. Which our system currently provides in spades.

I do have to beg to differ with Dadshouse's generalization about California. Perhaps in the Silicon Valley politics does not get much play (although the Google guys seem to spend a lot of time involved with political causes), but here in San Francisco and the East Bay - and certainly in my experience in Sacramento - politics is daily fare.

TAG said...

Sounds like you and your friend had quite the interesting conversation.

I'm still considering exactly what to do with my vote. I've always said we should vote for someone rather than against someone. This year more than any in my memory there are plenty of reasons to vote against both of the major party candidates. As always there are some reasons to vote for them also.

I'll have to give your argument some thought. Maybe it is time to vote for an alternative candidate.