OPINION: DECISION 2016 — Do I Have To?
by Christopher M. Halleron
As Decision 2016 devolves into a daily dogpile of WikiLeaks v. IckyLeaks, we wonder if there’s any point to participating in this political plank walk. The toughest decision for many Americans is whether we should even bother venturing into the voting booth to endorse this process, let alone which deeply flawed candidate we should support in this “election.”
I use the word “election” derisively, as it seems inapplicable to this situation. The term most suitable is “coronation,” as Hillary Clinton’s feebly contested Democratic nomination (one opponent, whom she had to cheat to beat), in concert with Donald Trump’s narcissistic sandbagging of the GOP, are pretty clear indications that the election process has been severely undermined throughout this cycle—from the caucuses to the debates to the covert and overt media collusion. There’s something inherently rotten about the general state of this whole circus.
At the end of the day, only 9% of Americans actively support these candidates. Yet odds are nothing will be done about it, because our nation seemingly lacks a comprehension of civics.
Hack writers like me can pour their souls into sternly worded polemics for months on end, but the message no longer resonates. In a country that has gone from “The Audacity of Hope” to “The Audacity of Logic,” we seem to think our nation will change simply because some bespectacled late-night comedian “eviscerates” some platform, or some agitated blonde barks at the camera from behind a desk week after week. What many fail to realize is that those displays may be the means to an end, but the end comes in the voting booth. Sharing a meme is not the same as casting a vote. Arguing with complete strangers on social media is not an effective instrument of social change. The world will not be changed on snark alone.
Yes, this process is exhausting, and soul-crushing—and it’s that way by design. The idea is to make politics so comprehensively off-putting that most people want no part of it. Career politicians actually bank on political apathy, because it makes it easier to maintain the status quo. As a result, American Democracy has been reduced to an oligarchy that manipulates the will of the masses to serve their own agenda, then points to election results as a “mandate from the people.” Take a look at the United States Congress, which has a 14% approval rating but a 95% re-election rate.
Sure, there are systems in place to rectify the situation, but our politically punch-drunk citizenry typically ends up choosing not to participate, thus leaving these decisions to a small percentage of the population who passionately carry out their marching orders without an iota of individual thought.
Then there’s the increasingly aggressive discussion about the “Civic Irresponsibility” of a “Protest Vote”? Well, we’re way past civic irresponsibility…
A vote is the most effective form of protest, because it’s the legal means we’ve been granted as Americans to express our opinion with the government. Some people might prefer to give their vote to someone who most embodies political philosophies they support, rather than being browbeaten into casting their vote for a candidate they fundamentally distrust.
You may have line-item objections with certain policies—because if you agree with everything a politician does, you’re either extremely lucky to be so well represented, or you’re just not thinking for yourself. But when you look at those objections in comparison to your issues with the other candidates, it appears the best you can hope for is to wake up on November 9th and look yourself in the mirror.
Yes, someday this election is going to end. And there will be repercussions… because you know who loves political apathy the most??? Local Politicians.
In the midst of this blizzard of belligerence at the national level, policies that will directly impact you the most on a personal level go largely ignored.
On that note, voter registration deadline here in Hoboken, New Jersey is Tuesday, October 18. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.
Register, read up on the issues, research what each individual button in that voting booth represents, and try to do your job as a citizen.
If nothing else, it’ll give you a brief hiatus from what’s bound to be a steady stream of bile on your social media feeds this Election Day. Consider coming up for air, taking a walk to your local polling location and doing the one thing that might actually make a difference.
Christopher M. Halleron is the Publisher/Editor of hMAG.
As a columnist and journalist, he has covered various aspects of life here in the ‘greater Hoboken area’ and beyond for the past two decades.
His opinions are his own.