There Is No Political Solution
In a recent blog entry, a young woman expressed her dismay that two out of three young, eligible voters are not voting.
For whom would they vote? Iíve been of voting age for thirty-one years now. If in that time thereís been one single electable political candidate about whom Iíd have been proud to say, ďI helped put that person in a position of power,Ē I must have missed her.
Granted, there have been several about whom Iíd have said, ďI wish I could have kept that miserable bastard out of office,Ē but thatís not quite the same thing.
We live in a spectator democracy institutionalized in a remarkably resilient political and economic system. Neither you, I, the whippersnappers wearing their iPods nor George Walker Bush are the reason things are as they are. Our effective political choices are circumscribed by a system that now has (and perhaps always had) its own momentum and direction. Most of the things we as individuals value are not important to that system. Science fiction has long advanced cautionary tales of the human race finding itself subject to machines; but we already are subjects of a machine: one that is built of laws and procedures and memes, not of silicon and steel.
Some twenty-five years ago I used to say, ďAll work within the system is work for the system.Ē I still find that to be true. There are but two future scenarios: this shit continues, or the entire edifice collapses. Both alternatives suck. Three hundred years hence, it is possible that things will be better. Thirty years hence I have no doubt that whatever happens, they will be worse.
Probably much worse. And I hesitate to assert that nothing can be done to affect how much worse it gets, and how quickly it gets that way; but it certainly canít be done by individuals at the voting booth. The misguided souls who hijacked commercial jet liners and flew them into the World Trade Center did more to change things... but, as is almost always the case, they only changed things for the worse. Itís amazing how easy it is to make things worse in this world, but what a snowballís chance in hell one has of actually affecting anything beyond a very small, very personal sphere for the better. The bigger your ambition, the greater the chance that youíll only do damage. Make it to Washington and itís almost a certainty.
An individualís vote, of course, except in local matters in very small communities, has a vanishingly small statistical chance of affecting results even among the limited choices available. People donít like to admit it, but one doesnít vote because it makes any political difference, but because it makes one feel one is a part of the community. When you are disgusted, disconnected and marginalized, and the only people you can vote for are people you know would loathe you as much as you abhor them, there are not a lot of warm fuzzies to be found at the polling place.
Eventually (though I think it will be decades yet) this system will marginalize so large a portion of the population to such a degree that it will no longer be able to control all those who feel they have no stake in it anymore... but if the last few decades are any indication, even then it will never realize or respond sanely to what has happened. It will just think the population is overrun with lazy, snot-nosed delinquents who refuse to grow up and appreciate everything this magnificent country has done for them, and keep sending more people to war, prison or a cardboard box under the freeway, until public alienation reaches critical mass, the illusion of its authority collapses and chaos follows. Then it will take most of the rest of the world down with it (probably engaging in nuclear war somewhere along the line), and terror will reign. I have no love for this system, but I donít doubt for a moment that the aftermath of its demise will be far, far worse.
So, while I am not without political sentiment ó quite the opposite ó the more I consider it, the more I know there is no answer there.
ó Randy Fellmy aka Coises, April 13th, 2007