Will Call: When you’ve got to choose
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of hearing about this election.
That’s not to say I think politics aren’t important, it’s just that two years of focus on one ballot item seems a bit excessive. While who becomes the next president is a big deal, I doubt I’m going to sway anyone who hasn’t already made up their mind.
Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to address one of the few things almost everyone seems to agree on about our political system: It’s deeply flawed.
“Change” was the mantra of Obama’s first campaign, though for obvious reasons not his second. It’s at the core of both the Occupy movement and the Tea Party, and a big part of the appeal of both Sanders and Trump.
There’s plenty of evidence that most people are dissatisfied with how our representatives are elected and how they tend to operate once in office. Nevertheless, we haven’t seen a lot of action. Perhaps that’s because our national attention is focused on elections and re-election, though that doesn’t explain why we didn’t nix the electoral college after 2000.
Of course, our government wasn’t designed as a direct democracy. As much as we owe to our founders, they probably never anticipated an era of such comprehensive education and mass information. We are better equipped than we’ve ever been to rule ourselves, but we haven’t made a lot of progress in that direction.
I’ll skip the sermon on how that’s because big money interests and entrenched powers don’t want things to change. That’s both self-evident and overly simplistic. Some politicians are more power hungry or corrupt than others, and taking a hopeless attitude won’t help anything.
In a mail-in state like ours, there’s very little excuse for not voting. If abstaining was an effective protest, the point is made by now. I still refuse to fill in the box in unopposed races, but there’s plenty of substance to weigh in on this year. A lot of it could have a much more direct impact on your life than the presidency, from the district attorney’s race to Proposition 106.
There’s also the matter of a pair of propositions that open the door to unaffiliated voters having a say in the primaries. Short of switching to automatic runoff voting, that strikes me as one of the most effective ways toward eroding the two-party system.
That brings us to the crux of the problem. As things stand, the only way to have more choice in the candidates is to assign yourself to one of two parties that both sound good in principle and are anything but in practice. You’re expected to line up behind their candidates, even when you distrust or outright detest them.
Each behaves as if difficult issues — abortion, gun control, energy production — are simple and the other side is foolish for a difference of opinion. Meanwhile, both parties seem content with an obscene defense budget to support interventionist foreign policy while leaving our veterans out in the cold when they return.
As an unaffiliated voter, I get to keep the parties guessing. My ballot includes Republicans, Democrats, and even some others. I’m arguably sending a message that I won’t put up with this binary bull, although it means sacrificing my voice in what’s arguably the crux of the process.
If Colorado gets an open primary, that’s less of an issue, and I hope anyone who’s discontent with our current major party candidates will join me in ditching a pair of institutions that have failed us.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to fill out their ballot and drop it off— it’s too late to mail. Fill out what you care about and skip what you can’t decide on. If you really can’t find the lesser of two evils in the presidential race, back one of the myriad alternatives instead of leaving it blank. That sends a message, too, and there’s even a possibility of denying the plurality to the main candidates.
On Wednesday morning, at least half this country will be disappointed in the outcome of the election. If you agree that that’s a sign of a broken system, it might be good time to start thinking about ways to fix it. You know, in the six or seven hours before everyone starts talking about the 2020 election.
Will Grandbois likes Ike. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Christina Cappelli described playwright Steven Dietz’s “The Nina Variations” as providing a couple with a reset button, the ability to repeat conversations and say something differently and see where things will end up this time.