Monday, November 3, 2014

The Empty Election

There's an election tomorrow, and for the first time since I've been able to vote, I've thought long and hard about skipping it.  I won't, mostly because there's a movement afoot to deny the vote and to make politics so wretched that nobody votes.  I certainly don't want to let thebastards win.  The big question is, of course, who the hell am I actually going to vote for?

The sample ballot I got in the mail was rather uninspiring.  Here in New Jersey we don't vote for state level elections in even-numbered years (which insures low turnout for those elections, but that's another piece for another time), so I don't get to vote on anything related to state politics.  When it comes to the senate I can vote for right wing Republican (no chance) or Cory Booker, a Democrat who never met a banker he didn't like.  I read the League of Women Voters guide for my local House race, where I discovered that the incumbent Democrat didn't bother to send in a response, and his Republican challenger had multiple typos and grammatical mistakes in hers.  There's a mysterious third party candidate called "Dark Angel" (no joke) on the ballot who actually has some good positions on student loan debt (his big issue), so he'll get my protest vote.  Donald Payne, Jr is the incumbent.  He got his seat as a replacement after his dad died in office, so I will also make it a vote against nepotism as well.  In one election, that of Essex County Executive, I might actually vote for a conservative Republican to deny my vote to incumbent Joe DiVincenzo, a machine boss who despite his party affiliation has been a major Christie ally.

The choices in this corner of New Jersey seem to mirror those in the nation at large.  Voters can go for radical conservative ideologues, or for milquetoast Democrats who still do the bidding of corporate interests.  The outcome of the Congressional elections isn't really that meaningful to begin with.  If the Democrats hold the Senate, Republicans will continue to keep it from working.  If they win, the president will just have to get his veto pen ready.  Apart from the insane yet feasible attempt at impeachment that a Republican Senate might try, I don't see much changing here either way.

Despite the seemingly low stakes involved, millions and millions of dollars are pouring into these races, and in many states Republicans are doing their best to manipulate the outcome by limiting voter access.  You can't put a price on power, I guess.

The national news media, in their usual stupidity, has latched onto the easiest and shallowest explanation for a strong Republican election: that Barack Obama is unpopular.  Never mentioned in this is that Republicans are even less popular, but the moderates who voted for Obama will probably be sitting this election out.  In any case, it's not just Obama who's unpopular, it's the whole stinking, rotten, corrupt system.  I don't know anyone, conservative or progressive, who has any real faith in it.  We are going through the motions of democracy, but have long ago left it behind.  As I've said before, America is in its Brezhnev period where the empire limps on, zombie-like, even though nobody really believes in it or its ideology anymore.  This empty election, so full of sound and fury signifying nothing, is as much proof of that as anything.

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