As we near November the whole country is getting spun up about the election. As someone who doesn’t believe in the political process I don’t have a dog in the fight of either the presidential or local elections, but I feel myself getting drawn into the anxiety and regularly feel like I may snap during the next stupid Trump joke or Bernie impression that I hear. As some warning the last time I wrote about politics I got my father so angry that he actually yelled at me for the first time since I was in High School, so be aware that my views will probably piss you off.
I used to care about politics, it fascinated me in much more than the watching the train wreck feeling that I get now. My parents are self described “Old Hippies” who were two of the three registered democrats in our small town. Their liberal leanings were ever present, but they didn’t stymie the flow of ideas and allowed me to become who I wanted to be, which is how I became such an unabashed capitalist. They encouraged discussion and at least acknowledging people’s viewpoints and trying to see where others are coming from. As a teenager I started reading Tom Clancy novels and became enthralled with geopolitics and the delicate ballet of nation states. I also became a news junkie, watching national news every morning before school, reading the local paper when I got home, and catching parts of the local news before bed. I was in absolute overload, trying to balance the knowledge of Clancy’s Soviet struggles with the developments of the day, trying to find my way through a web of local, national, world, and fictional news. I watched the 2000 election and was in heaven, the old dynasty Republicans versus the wooden but sound Al Gore fighting over the electoral college and hanging chads. I loved it and was planning on finding a way to pursue this as a career, maybe with a history degree, and maybe making it into the CIA like my literary hero, Jack Ryan. And then two planes flew into the World Trade Center and everything changed.
I obviously can’t take ownership of this tragedy, it impacted each and every American, and there are so many people who suffered so much more than I ever dreamed, but it had a big impact on my life at a pivotal moment. At 16 I was not fully formed as a person and was at the point of making important decisions about my future that would have far reaching consequences. I no longer started my morning off by watching tv, because I saw nothing but bad news. I traded in the evening paper for reading Rolling Stone, losing myself in a world of music that became all consuming. In short instead of rising to the challenge like so many did and dedicating myself to the country I sought out escapism and turned away from the present and from the relevant, which is something that I am not proud of.
For the next few years I fell down the rabbit hole of music, consuming all types, learning to play (poorly), using my brain power to memorize lyrics and track lists instead of trying to sort out bigger problems. I suppose that this is a bit harsh on myself since I was far from the first kid to turn off, tune in, and drop out, but it feels like it was a big fork in the road for me that lead down a completely different path. When I got to college I got into the punk scene and tried to avoid the political aspects but couldn’t help but get swept up in the angry “Not my president” aspect of the Bush years. Through punk I discovered the ideals of anarchy and embracing the outsider status, and found it easier to completely ignore politics and plead ignorance rather than get caught up in the discussions between my friends. I voted for Obama in 2008, not sure why but I think that I just wanted to shake things up a bit and piss off my conservative roommates. Beyond that I spent all of college locked in an internal struggle between anarchy, apathy, and alcohol, and graduated well educated but ignorant of all political issues that weren’t satirized on the Daily Show or Colbert report.
In a not so surprising twist I graduated, started making money, and all of a sudden didn’t want to pay taxes. I suppose that the idea of a small government fit with my anarchist ideals, but I never thought that I would wake up one day and realize that I was a Republican, especially after I moved to left of liberal Vermont. Maybe it was just a brief counter reaction to the political climate here. To be clear it was mostly only fiscal conservatism, I am still pretty liberal on most moral values. All of a sudden I found myself politically awake for the first time in a decade, trying to sort out my feelings on taxes, second amendment rights, foreign intervention, and a host of other issues. This is the point that you are probably thinking “Sounds like you are a libertarian” but please stow that. The Libertarian party is bullshit, a bunch of people who want the best of both worlds aren’t willing to commit to their values. It is a bunch of wishy washy agnostics who will never get any momentum and won’t get anything done. I would rather bury my head in the sand and ignore the political system, which is exactly what I did.
I live in a place where my votes literally don’t matter. Even being a centrist in Vermont puts me to the far right of the political spectrum. Beyond the presidential race my vote will have little impact. Local politics are even worse and more corrupt than national races, and since I am a bit of a nomad I don’t feel invested in trying to make changes. I realized that I really don’t have a dog in any political fight. I live a life of little political consequence, I don’t own property or champion any issues. I am realistic enough to know that there are not going to be any sweeping changes to the system, and that any changes will have little effect on me. I like to consider myself a feminist who believes in equal rights for all races, religions, and sexual orientations. In my best future I could probably be an outspoken advocate for the rights of others, but in reality I am too selfish for that. Frankly I hate the self serving white people who become mouthpieces for oppressed groups, because they don’t have skin in the game and never seem genuine.
Maybe I could have gotten behind Bernie, if he wasn’t such a caricature. Or maybe someone like Ron Paul if he wasn’t so much of an isolationist. I probably couldn’t get behind Johnson because he seems like an idiot. Trump is also an idiot, but I doubt that he really has a chance. Hillary has the credentials, and despite being a crook will probably do a decent job, but you could never say that I’m with her. I believe that the Vermont political scene involves a guy with a pony tail, which is exciting, and some school board member turned out to be a bigot, but I can’t get invested in those races. Maybe this will change and I will start championing a cause or fall under a candidate’s spell. Maybe I will see some change instead of a continuation of the status quo. Maybe they will put out some piece of legislation that will will effect high income straight white males who identify as feminists, believe in gun ownership but don’t own any guns, and are too fat to be drafted into the military and I can start championing that cause, but how likely is that?
So go out next month and vote if you want to or don’t vote, I don’t care. Whoever becomes president will lead us down the path that they choose. Whoever gets elected governor or senator will have their own agenda. And the mayor or school board member will have rule over their own fiefdom. But no matter the changes I will carry on, not reading the news, not caring about who is in power, and not willing to risk jury duty by registering to vote. If this pisses you off then that is your own issue, and if we go down a perilous path I own that. Feel free to point me out as a villain, because as Washington said “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”