Why vote in the grey area?

I like to talk to people about politics. I like to get people interested and passionate about a particular issue, candidate or incident, as it leaves me feeling like I’ve done my good turn for the day, so to speak. So today, I’m going to talk to you about the upcoming election and our role in it as voters. I’ll make your part easier by supplying your lines:

This is the big one. This election will be one of the most historic and important in American history. The next president will inherit a souring economy in need of serious attention, an unpopular war wasting billions of dollars and thousands of lives, an international stance of unilateralism that has alienated many former friends, an international ecological crisis and the largest and most bureaucratic government we’ve ever seen. Truly, the next president will be charged with an heroic task – and what’s more, it could be the first black man as president or the first female as vice president. Who could possibly not take a side in this one?

Me, for one. I’m 21 years old and will still be when election day comes around. I’ve only been able to vote in Congressional elections, primaries and one presidential election. Every opportunity I’ve had to vote, I did so, even going so far as to work the polls as a clerk for the 2006 general. Each election has taught me something new about the electoral process, and each one has had special significance for me.

And this year, that significance will not be lessened when I do the unthinkable: I will not vote. Ahh, yes, I can feel your anger! Use it! Strike me down! Send me angry hate mail!

Don’t get me wrong; I think voting is wonderful, and that it’s the duty of every citizen to be make informed decisions. It is thusly with relevant information, that I make this decision to abstain. My argument: the candidates and the parties are ultimately so close in nature that both seem gray to me now, albeit slightly different shades. As I believe that neither candidate will do anything for my generation but send us further and further down the path to oblivion, forcing us to take steps toward a future mucked up by a continued failure to address any long-term problems, those minor differences have failed to sway me in favor of either major party candidate.

Never mind my reasons for not supporting either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama – after exhaustively detailing everything I dislike about both, whomever I’m talking to inevitably says something like, “Well, you just have to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils!” No, I don’t. That opinion is everything that is wrong with the American political system. Compromising with someone to be shot in the chest instead of the head isn’t something I’m interested in. Since I believe that one wants to kill us all by igniting war in the Middle East and one wants to bankrupt my and my children’s futures, and that both will continue to erode our civil liberties, what good does it do me to vote one way or the other?

“Then write someone in! Why not write in Ron Paul?” I would, but it’s essentially a non-vote. No one will pay attention to how many people write in Paul the same way no one paid attention to his campaign when he was the golden god of “teh internets.” I’d go and waste my time and possibly some paper writing in Paul. It’s like getting a flyer on the street (here, you throw this away).

It’s usually about this point that eyes start bugging out and that nasty, frothy spit starts forming in the corner of people’s mouths. “HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT POLITICS ACTUALLY SAY THAT WE SHOULDN’T VOTE?” I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote. I don’t know what your thoughts on the situation are. Maybe you actually believe that Obama will change politics and save the country. If you do, I encourage you to vote for him. Just don’t expect me to vote for him because we both dislike McCain as a candidate.

Of course, the close of my conversations concerning my voting preferences usually ends with my counterpart blurting out, “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch,” to which I say, “Yeah, huh.”

Eric Chase Liberal Studies Senior