None of the Above

knock_vote

I’m done for now. This moment has been in the making for decades.

My political self-awareness began before my 10th birthday. I remember watching Jimmy Carter with my dad. I sensed how important the kindly, southern-drawled man was, but didn’t fully understand the implications of his position. It felt like he was the country’s principal speaking to a classroom of 218 million. Liberal, conservative, blue-dog, neocon—these words weren’t in my vocabulary, and I was a voracious reader! If someone had mentioned left-wing and right-wing, I would have thought the country needed both to fly. Doesn’t a bird?

My fascination with politics deepened over the years, at times bordering on lurid. Given the same empirical data, how could two people extrapolate diametrically opposed conclusions? And why could a candidate call his opponent every nasty thing under the sun but a lier? The politisphere tickled my inner psychologist.

Influenced by the usual milestones of youth, my worldview developed. While my moral beliefs weren’t totally liberal (I am a preacher’s kid after all), my thoughts about the role of government were generally left of center.

The first national election I remember voting in was Bush vs. Clinton. My horse won that year and again four years later. I’ve voted in every presidential election since, and many local and national ones as well. This year’s mid-terms find the country still entrenched in the eerily even divide of blue/red, white/black, gay/straight politics. Politicians I’ve helped into office, and many I haven’t, have presided over desert wars, economic calamities, ecological disasters, and continuing erosions of privacy.

I’ve finally had enough. This year I’m watching the roulette wheel spin from the cheap seats. Any acrimony I might have had in seeing my candidate lose will be channeled into prayer and positive thoughts for the poor shlub who’s conned his way into office.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With apologies to the author of Ecclesiastes, here are a few reasons I won’t be in the slow-shuffling, snaking lines of weary citizens performing their alleged civic duty.

Insanity of insanities, all is insanity.

We’re told that to effect change, vote the people we want to lead into office. I’ve spent half of my life doing that, at least trying to. Of course, my vision of leadership and principles are pitted against competing visions. So it goes. Over the years I’ve come to realize cooperation is as important as competition, if not more so. But I feel we’ve entered the era of permanent and entrenched partisanship. It’s more important for politicians to prevail (thus validating their constituents’ votes) than to solve the problems that effect us all. Because candidates personally stoke the flames of division, compromise is not only a sign of weakness; it’s the hangman’s noose for the career of anyone willing to meet halfway on an issue. Think that’s going to change any time soon?

Insanity of insanities, all is insanity.

This country put a man on the moon using a slide rule. Five years later, the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machine was patented. These devices have been deployed since the 1990’s, yet even with a paper trail, reports of “voting irregularities” surround their use. And now there’s an even greater push to expand internet voting. With luck, maybe the company that landed the federal health exchange website will get the design job.

Insanity of insanities, all is insanity.

Gerrymandering, the practice of redefining voting district boundaries to favor one party over others, continues to be a problem. Since the reigning party controls the mapping of voting districts, both Democrats and Republicans have benefitted from gerrymandering. The process creates incumbent “safe” districts, discourages minority party voting, and sparks the Electoral College effect, where a plurality of votes fails to garner a victory. Gerrymandering also contributed to nearly half of NC’s senators and representatives running unopposed this year.

Insanity of insanities, all is insanity.

Finally, but certainly not least, this is an opportunity to grow spiritually. That’s right, getting caught up in the dregs circling the electoral pool can stunt one’s spiritual growth. Political involvement is a heated and highly debated topic in the Christian faith. It bears considering that a denouncement of one candidate is an implicit endorsement of the other. We can’t vote for the parts of a politician’s agenda we agree with, while striking the offensive portions. I’m tired of indignantly voting for the lesser of two evils, and I won’t likely be convinced that continuing to do so somehow serves the Lord’s purpose. My energy is better spent considering where all my help truly comes from.

So it’s time for a pregnant pause. It’s time to bid farewell to a history of defensive voting, and embrace a future of offensive faith.

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