I had every intention to whittle away my evening, passively lurking on various fora and blogs, but the most recent blog entry by the always thought-provoking Arturo Vasquez has compelled me to put in my inflated two cents about the particularly curious manner through which Americans approach voting. I inserted the above add because I think the mingling of a cross and the admonition to vote (however trivial the “election” may be) captures the American voting phenomenon perfectly.
While driving today, in lieu of a functioning CD player and/or the legal permission to drink while I drive, I decided to listen to AFR (American Family Radio). First mistake. Beyond that, however, as was to be expected, the chattering class prattled on about the Great American Privilege to make one’s voice heard. What jabbed me from the boxing ring of banality was that one of the hosts enthusiastically beamed that one needs to vote, regardless of one’s ideological conviction. I must say that I find it strange that an ostensibly Christian program would promote such a view. (I suppose, though, that the speaker assumes that all those listening to him already share his convictions and will vote in the correct way for the Correct Candidates and Causes.) After hearing this, I quickly turned off the radio to think about the very interesting implications of this particular host’s view: the act of voting itself is more important than the issues/candidates that one votes either for or against. For Americans, then, has the act of voting become a type of secular liturgy (theurgy?) by which we are made better people simply through taking part in the process? Also, in a parallel vein: is democracy now seen as the unassuming manner by which the cognoscenti are identified and separated from the ignorant plebes? Or: Democracy as elitism?
As for me and my house of one, will I vote? Well, I will go down to the polling place and write in the names of my favorite literary characters. Regardless of what I do, this quote by Thomas Wolfe pretty much sums up my view on democracy: “Syphilis makes the whole world kin. And if you want to lose your eyesight, you can do it in this great democracy as well as anywhere on earth.” Maybe–just maybe–I will vote for Cthulu. After all, why vote for the lesser evil?