Thursday, July 29, 2004

Open Letter to John Kerry

Senator Kerry,

Great speech tonight. I thought the line about "saying 'Mission Accomplished' doesn't make it so" was pretty good. You seemed to sweat alot, though.

I have a confession to make: I've never voted. Not once. 12 years ago, when I was first legally capable of voting, I didn't. I didn't vote 4 years later when the best the GOP could come up with was Bob Dole. As liberal as I am, I like Bob Dole as a guy; all veterans have my utmost respect, but old guys who peddle Viagra must really be self-assured. Although I still think Elizabeth should have played a larger part in the ads.

Back to not voting. I've had many, many chances. In Kentucky they held elections, like, every other month. Four years ago I was working in a warehouse for and felt compelled to stay at work instead of leaving to perform my civic duty. I wasn't told I couldn't go vote, of course, but the email and phone calls and inventory emergencies all just seemed more important at the time. Amazon was fucked up that way.

I think I also didn't vote because of the pretentious,  flawed, and cynical belief that abstaining from voting is a valid form of protest. You know, "lesser of two evils is still evil" and all that crap.
I've since learned that skepticism is good for, if not integral to, democracy. Cynicism, on the other hand, is one of the key ingredients to self-loathing. The difference is hope: skepticism requires it; cynicism requires its absence. Intellectually and emotionally it's easier to be cynical because there's no need to address what can't be changed. Skeptics see the problem but allow for a solution.

So I didn't vote because I thought my vote didn't matter. It occurs to me that I was being remarkably selfish.

Men and women didn't die on some godforsaken rock with guns in their hands so that I could watch the states turn red or blue on a pretty map and crack wise about which idiot would be our next president. It's a sentimental argument, and perhaps maudlin if not macabre. I feel strongly, though, that citizens don't owe it to themselves or even to their country to vote, they owe it to dead people.

Anyway, Senator, right now on CNN some political analysts are debating how well you delivered your speech. No shit. How well you delivered your speech, not what issues you addressed. As much faith as I have in true statesmen, Democrat or Republican, who want to improve our nation, I still think most political analysts are complete fucking morons. For those who smell hypocrisy, I'd argue that's not a cynical assertion, that's just insight.

So you have my vote, Senator. I'm not even going to watch the Republican National Convention. At this point they really can't convince me that Dubya will do a better job over the next four years. He may be a good guy at heart, but I just can't vote for him even though there for about two months this spring I felt like a Republican (listening to my dad talk about taxes and debt will do that to a guy). I think mostly I'm just a liberal who believes in personal and fiscal accountability more strongly than most other liberals.

So tonight I'm fully behind the Democrats, where I belong. If your typical middle-class Republican doesn't see that Dubya is fucking them over economically, so be it. If people don't think that we really shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the manner we did (if at all), that's their opinion and they're entitled to it... but I'm done trying to convince them otherwise. I think most people who are willing to talk politics aren't willing to change their minds anyway. So mostly they just want to argue for the sake of argument, which strikes me as pointless if not childish.

Anyway, Senator, I've rambled enough. I may or may not donate money to your campaign; as well as I budgeted out my college education over the next two years, money is remarkably tight. I've never been more motivated or eager to vote, though. My prediction: you win by 15% of the popular vote.


Blogger mary ann said...

I'm shocked! Shame on you for skipping thirteen general elections! You're an educated, intelligent, thinking person who actually pays attention to what's going on in the world.

Somehow you decided that your opinion didn't matter emough to push a button for it? That makes me so sad for you.

I'm glad you finally get it and that the fourteenth time is going to be charm.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Hey, Paul, I agree with a whole lot of what you're saying, but I've voted in every election I've ever been eligible for. I'm glad you get it now. Kerry's not perfect in my book, but he's a whole lot more together than GWB, and a whole lot more articulate, and not subject to the extremist right that Bush is. I'm just relieved that Nader isn't going to be the election-stealer (at least I hope he isn't) that he was last time. What would the last four years have been like under Gore???? I really wonder.......

Love, Marilyn

10:13 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I was talking with a good friend, expressing my disgust and frustration with our current voting system (particularly the electoral college and our two-party system) and our presidential candidates. I have a hard time bringing myself to vote for Kerry based on...well, just knowing that he's a politician and plays the same games that they all seem to. But my friend brought up a point that convinced me to vote for Kerry: it's the odd president who actually personally does anything of lasting importance. So what we're voting for, really, is for a president who will appoint an administration that reflects our values. That made it much easier to stomach the idea of voting for Kerry.

1:59 AM  

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