One of the worst aspects of the modern political atmosphere in the United States is the two-party system. We the people align with one of two parties and (most of the time) end up compromising one of their foundational beliefs just to vote for the person elected to represent their party in a general election. Candidates constantly try to demonize each other and the other party in order to get votes and, anymore, to generate Internet traffic.
Trump has been the master of publicity. He has used his knowledge of popular culture and how it can be manipulated (gained through his time on The Apprentice) and an acute sense for the outrageous to bring about this populist revolution within the Republican Party. On the other side, we have a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who has proposed ideas that I believe would run this country into the ground and an egomaniacal autocrat-in-hiding that has lied repeatedly about her involvement with this Benghazi debacle (something that I was not as worried about until recent developments in the case against her) and might actually have planted Trump as a candidate within the Republican Party to sabotage it from the inside.
As a Christian who is re-discovering his faith, I find myself at a loss for words when someone brings up politics anymore. I began my undergraduate education at Saint Anselm College–the site of the New Hampshire primary debates every four years–in the Politics department. People used to sigh and roll their eyes whenever I opened my mouth because I could not stop talking about politics and I was so opinionated that nobody wanted to engage me. Over the past three years or so I have tempered my views a bit and have (tried to) become less outspoken, but have still maintained a hardline minarchist view of what the government should and should not be responsible for and what they should and should not be allowed to do.
The two parties are a farce. Besides the fact that they divide Americans into two camps, the two camps have begun to look strikingly similar when their core beliefs are analyzed. Each wants government control of something that government should not be in control of. When faced with this choice in the last election, I folded and voted for Mitt Romney to ensure that Gary Johnson would not “steal my vote” and allow President Obama to win another election.
Looking back, I have gleaned three things from my first voting experience: 1) I should have not compromised my decision to vote for the Libertarian Party, even though Gary Johnson is far from the ideal candidate; 2) my vote really doesn’t matter; 3) none of the candidates in the field deserved or will deserve my vote until something changes. The way that we have begun to think about politics is totally upside down. We have stopped voting with our conscience.
If you had asked me a year ago whether or not a candidate’s moral background mattered to me I would have answered with a resounding “absolutely not.” Today, I don’t feel that way. We as an electorate have to begin to evaluate the kind of individuals that we are sending to represent us in Washington and in our state capitols. No longer can we sit idly by and watch Fox News or CNN and get the full story behind what our politicians are doing and how they are doing it. Disillusionment is understandable at this point, but something must be done.
I will not vote in the next election, nor will I vote in any further election in which I cannot find a candidate that exhibits the characteristics of a moral human being. Politicians need to be held to a higher standard if they are to be allowed to serve in the offices they currently hold. Lying to get votes or to avoid punishment for crimes committed. Antics that incite violence and hatred and division amongst people should not be tolerated. None of it should look like a horse race. Each candidate should be judged on their merits and their answers to questions, which seems to have been completely ignored in most of the recent elections. Candidates have become so adept at dodging original questions and completely avoiding the subject that it has simply become commonplace and we just expect it to happen. No longer.
The most common response I get when I tell people that I’m not voting is: “well then you can’t talk about it or complain for the next four years.” I love this response because it is so easily refuted. It’s a classic fallacy. Even though I have not participated, I have a moral obligation as a Christian to submit to whatever regime that I might find myself under. This means that by not voting, I and other moral absentees from the voting process are declaring that while we will abide by the public’s decision, we are not by any means happy with it.
And so, on the eve of my undergraduate education and as another general election dawns, I will not vote. And I will continue to complain about politics and the way that government and elections operate today in the United States. And I will not stop because something needs to be said. Voices are growing louder across the nation but they are still not as loud as tumblr and Twitter and Facebook and NBC and Fox. I hope that these masses know that they have but one choice in this next election, and it involves sitting at home and downing a six pack while the election results pour in and the next despot is ushered in by the electoral college. Nothing will change until we realize that something is wrong.