Tag Archives: voting

Good Intentions

When I am on the road, the wonders of cable TV are irresistible, or at least my willpower isn’t generally sufficient to resist them. I also generally don’t sleep that well, so when morning comes, the combination of the television looming in front of me and the bed begging me not to leave leads to sleepy channel surfing.

On one such morning recently I skipped through the infomercials and morning news shows and landed on a re-run of “Will and Grace.” This particular episode revolved around a city council race. Will, (who for those who don’t remember the show, is gay) is supporting the gay candidate, and Grace (who isn’t gay, but is Will’s close friend) enthusiastically supports that candidate as well, because she thinks it is high time that there be a gay councilperson.

Then Grace finds out that a Jewish woman is also running. Grace is a Jewish woman, so she switches her support to that candidate.

Come to find out, at a joint fundraising party given by Will and Grace, the Jewish Woman and gay man are exposed as stereotypical conservatives, by which I mean one is a racist, sexist, homophobe, and the other is just a racist sexist.

Our two heroes (Will and Grace) come to their senses, and realize that voting someone because of their sexual preference or religion and gender, without taking the time to look into their positions.

The piece de resistance came when, shamed by their shallowness, the two of them are sitting and being actively indifferent when neighbor/friend Jack comes in and ask them if they’ve voted. They say no, and he surprises them by saying he voted for the black candidate. Upon hearing that they jump out of their chairs and run the door so they can vote for the black candidate too, unaware of his philosophies or positions, and oblivious once again to their superficiality.

Of course, the show is a situation comedy, and nobody would actually behave that way when it comes to something as important as an election.

In reality, some people vote for the opponent of the candidate who is the target of the most egregious and numerous attack ads. And they should be attractive. And it helps if they have all their hair and are tall, and not overweight. And if they’re from the right part of the country. And, it doesn’t hurt if they have never said anything that anyone would disagree with.

The good thing about Will and Grace’s election is that it wasn’t real. But it is interesting to see that sometimes art really does imitate life.

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Filed under 2013

Politics as Unusual

I voted last week.  My schedule takes me away from home on election day, so I went down to the town office and cast an absentee ballot right on the spot.  I know it’s hard to imagine, but the political ads become even more annoying once a person’s vote has been cast.

The election of 2008 was very interesting in many ways.  A person of color and a woman battled it out for one nomination, while an elder statesman picked a mostly unknown woman as his running mate in the other party.

And yet, somehow this off-year election is even more interesting in some ways.  The past two years saw one party in complete control of the executive and legislative branch in Washington.  It has happened before in recent years, with Bill Clinton’s first two years and George W. Bush’s first two years.  The difference between the recent two year period and those others is that rather than arguing amongst themselves, the party in power this time took advantage of their power and made many changes in laws.  Even more changes have been made administratively, without the input of the legislators.

This election is an opportunity for people who are pleased with those changes to show their approval, while those unhappy with the changes can let their views be known.  That’s always the case with elections, but the level of support and opposition seems greater for this election than it’s been for years.

Some candidates are denigrating their own party’s leaders in their campaigns.  Others, from both parties, are telling us that they’ve learned their lesson, and will behave differently in the future. 

Negative attack ads by the candidates themselves and groups which support them are filled with insinuations and accusations.  Some are true, some have a grain of truth – but don’t really fairly tell the story – and some are just lies.  Negative ads aren’t new, of course, but are getting more sophisticated.

I heard a political expert say that negative ads aren’t designed to get you to vote for anyone, but rather to encourage you to stay home.  They’d like you to think that all politicians are crooks and liars.  They have so little confidence in their candidates that they want to win by suppressing voter turnout.  So, no matter who you vote for, it will be a vote against negative ads.

When I hear people say that they aren’t going to vote because all politicians are the same, and that it won’t make any difference, I say that they’re being intellectually lazy.  I’ve never known a political leader who did everything I wanted her or him to do, but we have lots of evidence that the people and party in power do make a huge difference.

A week from now the talking heads on TV will all be hoarse from taking excitedly about how the pre-election predictions were right, or weren’t, and what it all means.  I hope you’re not sitting in your recliner at that time thinking, “Gee: maybe I should have voted after all.”

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Filed under 2010

The Right To Vote, Or Not To

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Filed under 2008