Accountant by Day has a great post up, you should read the whole thing, but I wanted to highlight just a bit that goes along with the "voting/not voting" theme week I guess I have going on. She explains that she was voting by mail-in ballot, and had spent some time agonizing over the decision for which presidential candidate to vote for or to vote against: (emphasis mine)
After a long time I ended up darkening the oval next to Barack Obama’s name, which in a way is a sad thing, to vote for a candidate you don’t really believe in to avoid voting for a candidate you’re genuinely afraid is a threat to your civil rights. It’s too bad to have to choose between spending policies you agree with and social policies you don’t consider fascist. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Obama is the worst, just like I don’t think McCain is the worst. I think he’ll probably do mostly fine and we’ll pull through like we always do. But it makes me feel bad to always be stuck with candidates I can’t really root for. It would be cool to get to be one of those people who can be full-throttle rah-rah for somebody. I never quite get there. I always seem to wind up either abstaining out of principle, like when Pat Roberts ran unopposed in the primary, or voting for the person who scares me less.
Anyway, so after I mailed the ballot I began to regret my vote. Not in the sense that I wished I had voted for McCain and the deerslayer instead. No, I think not. But having reflected on the fact that, particularly in this state and in consideration of the miserable disgrace the electoral college makes of our voting system, my vote basically counts for nothing, I wish I’d decided to throw it away on the Libertarian party. I think Bob Barr is basically an asshole and I don’t like him any more than the other two, but at least I agree with Libertarian principles in general. Lacking interest or faith in Republican or Democrat and considering I think my vote is a waste anyway, I now think I should have gone moderate and voted Libertarian so that I could have made some pathetic stand against a two-party system that does exactly the opposite of representing me. For once, it’s a comfort to think about the fact that nothing I do really counts in this political system. My misfire won’t really have an impact anyway.
I think that encapsulates so much of the sentiment that I feel, and that I pick up from so many others this year. We are all waking up with this profound sense of alienation from our government. Perhaps our "government" is too abstract, we're actually alienated from our "representatives", from our "leaders", and from each other. What was once a badge of civic pride- the vote- has now become an onerous and guilt-inducing reminder of just how far removed our government is from anything resembling fairness, equality, engagment, representation, truth, justice and the American way. I hope that the situation is changing this cycle, that more and more people are realizing just how far we've come from representative democracy.
Not voting withholds consent from a government that desperately craves it. Our "leaders" govern based on the polls. The legacy of the Bush administration is not just the wreckage of the global economy, the destruction of America's image around the world, or the loss of so many lives. It's also in the brazen and willful determination to do whatever they want, despite the polls. It's almost to the point that I wonder if they trying to find out where the breaking point is? So many of their policies have angered the world, not to mention the American public. They've flouted international and domestic law for years, and despite blatant and rampant corruption they managed to secure congressional approval for $700 billion in additional money to Wall Street on top of already obscene bonuses. I wonder if they are curious just how far they can push before an actual, literal revolution happens?
Not voting sends a signal, just the same as voting does. It sends a signal that you are aware of all the shenanigans and will not give the fraudsters the authority, the legitimacy that they crave. If nobody voted, they would be forced to change things, I can only assume. Is it possible that voting third-party sends a similar signal? At least, in my mind, some of the third-party candidates are at least talking about bigger issues than "socialism" vs. Joe the Plumber.