07 November 2006

Vote Here/Aquí

Picture of me giving a presentation of my work
three days after the 2004 election.

Back in Texas I am always amused by the serendipitous correspondence of the third person singular imperative form of the verb "votar" in Spanish to the imperative of the second person singular of the verb "vote" in English. This makes it possible for frugal election officials to write, "Vote Here," and, "Vote Aquí" with only three words. Think of how much ink and paper they must save.

As I write this it is just after 11 AM UCT/GMT+7, 8 November, so 11 PM EST, 7 November. Polls should be closed or closing across the US, and those of you who exercised your republican virtue today should be able to sit back with a cup of hot chocolate, or slip into bed feeling proud of yourselves. At least until the election results begin to roll in. For the past two presidential elections I have succesfully managed to disenfranchise myself, or been disenfranchised by a third party. The last one I voted in was in 1996, while I was in the MTC in Provo. In 2000 I was in Spain, and didn't bother trying to obtain an absentee ballot. I wasn't sure who I'd have voted for anyhow. I didn't like the idea of a legacy presidency --Clinton passing the stick to Gore, like Regan to Bush I. Nor did I like the idea of a dynasty--Bush I, Bush II, Bush III (just waiting for Jed). That year I probably would have voted for Nader, safe for a Texan with misgivings since Dubya carried the state anyhow, and our electoral college system cares naught for the individual vote.

In 2004 J and I were in Italy, and despite the fact that we had requested our absentee ballots as early as was legal, they still arrived, as though to mock us, the day after the elections. We were living, at the time, with people from all over Texas as well as some from California. Those registered in Houston all received their ballots, the Aggies likewise. It seems like a little too much of a coincidence, however, that those of us registered in Travis County, the county most effected by republican gerrymandering (please explain to me how south Austin and the Rio Grande Valley are a community of common concern), received our ballots the day after. But it's OK really. Our votes probably would have been thrown out with the half million other absentee ballots that were discarded in 2004 (that is as though one in every 240 people were arbitrarily turned away from the polls).

My cynical and misanthropic strategy when it comes to voting is to vote for any and every third party canditate, be they Green, Libertarian, or Communist (I wouldn't vote for a fascist, though, were one to ever appear in any official guise). I then divide my remaining votes between Dems and Reps, with attention paid to whomever happens to be in power and where at the time. The idea being that I dislike both parties enough (though one more than the other at the moment) to try to prevent either from having a majority. I'd rather they work toward compromise, and engage in actual discourse, than be able to run any bill they like straight through. Though, lacking derridian play, I'll take demanian aporia, in the hopes that no harm will be done, if no good either.

I'm proud of those of you that voted, and especially of my SE Texas family for volunteering at the polls. Under a system run mostly by money, voting is one of the most idealistic and romantic things we can do. Hooray for ideals and romance.

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