Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About voting

Voting in the United States is a lot like selecting your dinner option at a wedding reception. Much is made of the fact that you get to choose your meal. Yet there are very good reasons why people don't limit themselves to chicken or pork every time they contemplate eating: these staples can't hope to express the full range of what appeals to people about food as a subject. They also impose on those who would prefer to eat neither.

Much like food, people have a broad diversity of interests on the subject of social relations. Having two parties dominate this field at a national level inevitably imposes ridiculous constraints on anybody who wants to participate in civic affairs. The whole breadth of divergent human inquiry is crudely recast into a mold set by the deciding class, which in our case incorporates both "liberal" and "conservative" views: there are corporate executives who think "creationism" is BS and want reproductive rights for their daughters, and there are members of the US Chamber of Commerce who love shooting guns and don't believe in global warming. What they share is an understanding that they own the country; everybody else's role is to fall in line on the basis of any issues peripheral to this consensus.

We are left to decide whether we are "chicken" people or "pork" people, "red state" or "blue." It is little wonder that so many of us choose to abstain altogether.

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