1. Power is a reality: Power-the quest for it and the fear of it--has been a reality of the our condition since the dawn of human consciousness and the formation of the first human societies, both wandering and settled, agricultural and industrial. How does sitting home on election day make that go away?
2. Power is only the ability to do things (Thanks to Rollo May for that): Therefore, it is an amoral quality. Not an immoral quality. This means it can be turned toward both Good and Evil. We already know that Evil loves power for its own sake. To stand aside and let them take it without even bothering to pull a little lever, or fill in a little circle, may not be as Evil, but it gets pretty close.
3. Some people really love power for its own sake. There are 3 kinds of these people: the Mad, the Greedy and the Criminal. They not only always vote on election day, they finance campaigns, run for office and, when that doesn't work, sometimes even go out and take it by cunning or by force . . . especially when too many people are sitting home Tivo-ing Barney and Friends.
When you sit out election day, you contribute to the creation of a power vacuum (see #1). The MG&C are more than happy to fill that vacuum, and not a God damned one of them care for you one bit (though some of them are astoundingly clever at making you think so). Some of them may also be happy to fill the grave they make you dig for yourself. With you. Whatever happens, you will not like it. So go out and vote and keep the MG&Cs out of office. You can't stop them completely. But you can keep them on margins of darkness where they belong.
4. Governments Take People's Money and Send Them Off to War: So you might as well have a say in it, especially if you're worried about money; or you are of a certain age or have children of the same certain age.
"But there's no military draft in the United States!"
Oh, that can change fast. Real fast.
5. No, sorry, you are not a sensitive little idealistic snowflake who will melt into oblivion by concerning yourself with dirty, filthy politics.
See #1. And take look in the mirror tomorrow morning.
6. Not all politicians are amoral, crooks. No, really quite a few strive to be honorable public servants who try to their best in a lousy system (my ideas for reform are for another day; Hint: Citizens United may be the worst SCOTUS decision since Dred Scott.)
My impression is that many politicians are none too bright. Unfortunately, the way our system is designed now, the bright ones don't run. Let the smart ones in where you can. If you have to, though, settle for the doofus with a decent moral compass.
7. Barack Obama stood up when he should have sat down! No! Wait! He sat down when he should have stood up! No! Wait--
Newsflash: Barack Obama is a politician. Get over it. As long as we have power, we're going to have government and as long as we have government, we're going to hire politicians to govern. As one wise commentator said: "The only man who's never done anything wrong, is the man who hasn't done anything."
You want real saints? Go to a real church. Politics is and always will be a terrible religion. Politics is about the real world we live in now, so you'd better pay at least some attention, if you want to keep the good things you have and if you want any chance at making it better. Don't stand aside and tell yourself, "It doesn't make any difference to me," because someday, it will (see #4, 2nd and 3rd paragraphs).
Having said that, Obama's first term hasn't looked very good so far to me either, and I still wonder if we might be doing better with Mrs. President Clinton, but I will say this: Barack Obama is very smart and a real good guy. (If he were anymore square, he'd be an Eisenhower Republican). We still should stick with him and his party. Just act like it's your family--you don't have to like all of ‘em.
Now: why exactly do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who screwed it up for eight years? Why should I sympathize with you just because your "feelings are hurt?"
One more favorite saying: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."
8. Because it's the patriotic thing to do. Because, like most every other citizen of every other country on this planet, you love your country even though you don't always like it, especially the lawless behavior of its large corporations and its large government. Your single vote doesn't rule the world--you'd be a dictator and tyrant, otherwise--but taken together our votes do make a difference (as the 2000 election especially proved).
We're all connected to this infuriating marvelous thing called the United States of America. You can stand back from it with a cocked eyebrow (like I often do), but you can't cut yourself off from it, not completely, no matter how hard you try (especially you, Mr. I-Don-t-Depend-on-Anyone Libertarian).
It's your America, too. Stay at the table. Keep your hand in. Get out there and vote.
Thomas Burchfield's contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark will be published March 2011 by Ambler House Publishing. His essays and blog entries can be read at The Red Room website for writers. He can also be approached on Facebook, followed on Twitter and e-mailed at tbdeluxe[at] sbcglobal [dot] net.
Causes Thomas Burchfield Supports
The Nature Conservancy; Africare; Capitol Public Radio