Why I Didn’t Vote

By Lloyd Graff

It’s November 6, and I’m sitting at Starbucks writing this piece, across from the polling place I chose not to vote at in 2018.

For over 50 years I have voted at every opportunity. I’ve voted for Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Idiots. But this year I’m not going to be an idiot and participate in an exercise that does nothing positive for me or my community and wastes almost two hours of my precious day.

In my America of 2018 the political system has evolved into a fat duopoly (a dual monopoly) of parties that vie for the spoils from the willing masses who lemmingly abet them.

Maybe I would feel differently if I had just one actual race where I felt my vote would matter, but in my Chicago south suburb of Olympia Fields this year the political institutions, Democrats, Republications and a cynical press have totally turned me off. For Illinois Governor I have two centimillionaires who have been throwing dirt at each other for six months. Bruce Rauner, the Republican, has been an impotent failure trying to move an utterly recalcitrant legislature. J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat who inherited a real estate fortune, seemingly has done very little in his life except “live large”—in his case 300 pounds worth. For my choice for Congress I have none. Robin Kelly, a pleasant lady and Democrat who I wouldn’t recognize if she was standing in front of me at Starbucks, is unopposed. She is a professional unknown, perfect for my locale which elected Jesse Jackson Jr. for a decade before she inherited the job.

I have come to see our National and Illinois political scene as a well-orchestrated charade game played by the insiders of both political parties. It appears they do hate one another, and they fight hard for the right to collect the spoils of power.

Photo courtesy of fee.org

The lobbyists will pay greater tribute to the winners than the losers, but the sad fact is that neither party really cares about the poor and sick and dispossessed because they are regarded as just tools to be used to amass power and win the GAME.

Donald Trump is an interesting intruder into the political duopoly, but he has embraced the Republican Party and they have embraced him to stay in the game. Trump has done a lot of good things for the country in two years, but his narcissism and ego make him prone to major miscalculation in the world arena. If I could vote for Trump on today’s Illinois ballot I would vote, but on today’s ballot there is nothing for me to vote for. So here I am at Starbucks, bitter that America has a political system that rewards greed and voter laziness.

I will watch the returns come in tonight hoping for a stalemate in the Congress. Trump needs restraint, and a Democratic House will provide that. A Republican Senate will restrain the lefty loonies in Congress and hopefully keep the economy on track.

But until we break the grip of the haters in both parties and attract some people who actually care about doing good, not just keeping power and accumulating spoils, I think I’ll just boycott elections and drink my coffee.

Question: Does the state of American politics make you sick?

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27 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Vote

  1. Morrie Goldman

    Two hours to vote? Next time try early voting. No crowds and very easy.

    And when you choose not to vote, you just allow others to vote on your behalf, without you guidance of course.

    But if you really feel that disenfranchised, find a candidate to support in the primary, or even better run for office!

    Having not voted, in my view, you are no longer qualified to comment on those who were voted into office in this election.

     
  2. Misterchipster

    David Foster Wallace
    There is no sure cure for depravity but term limits might help slow it down.

    “If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
    ― David Foster Wallace, Up, Simba!

     
  3. Val Zanchuk

    Indeed it does, Lloyd, but I still voted. Our local races provided an interesting parallel to the national scene. Our republican governor, Chris Sununu, is popular and he won re-election by a decent margin, but with less support than pre-election favorability ratings. I think that some independents and democrats decided to switch their support when given an alternative. Our legislature completely flipped from all R to all D. It seems the whole state decided it was time to put the brakes on single party rule, as the Rs were opposing some very popular concepts that the Ds support. Perhaps a little more robust response than the national results, but similar.

     
  4. David M Atwood

    Lloyd,

    I did vote yesterday, but cannot think of one honest reason to argue with your opinion and position on this. America is truly fed-up with both parties and the majority of ground troops fully involved in the game are loonies on the far edge of each spectrum.

    I’ve told my wife a number of times that, God forbid, something happens to her I will retire to a mountain cabin somewhere with 13 smelly old hound dogs with the intent of being left alone. The political state of the nation is one of the main reasons for my thoughts on this.

    So just keep this in mind, have a coffee on me Lloyd and if you want to visit sometime in the future don’t worry, my hound dogs won’t bite.

    Dave

     
  5. Rich

    I am sure all the families of the men and women who fought and died so you could vote will be disheartened to hear it is not worth two hours of your time. There are still a few good people willing to run for public office. Maybe you could think about investing more than two hours in working to get them elected.

     
  6. Hank

    The current state of our politics is certainly ugly especially here in Illinois. The wingnuts on both ends of the political spectrum have become untethered to reality and apparently believe whatever crazy lies and drivel that is espoused by radical commentators and bloggers. Centrists who are committed to doing what is best for the country and their districts will continue to lose primary battles to the wingnuts until the extreme gerrymandering so prevalent in most states is eliminated. Until then things will only get worse.

     
  7. Todd

    I understand your sentiment. I am so sick of the extremes in both parties. I am also sick of the way the media only gives exposure to the extremes. Our current system rewards excessive moves to the extreme of the party line rather than people working together to solve a problem. I voted but will not crucify you for the choice you made out of your disgust of the way things are.

     
    1. Todd

      By the way, the same excessive rancor that has soiled our political climate has been exhibited on here in writing by a number of the previous posters. “Cancel”, “unsubscribe”, families of veterans being ashamed of your actions – those are all the same kind of statements people of both parties hurl at each other. It’s no wonder we can’t work together and get crap done. We would rather be offended than listen to what is trying to be said and try to work towards a solution. Sure there are kooks on both sides that can’t get through their brains that maybe someone else might have a valid idea, or even part of a valid idea that can be combined with your idea to make a better plan.

       
  8. Steve

    Not sure how you have gotten this far in life with this quitter attitude. Is our political system not perfect and many feel disgusted by it? Sure, but there is no way you or anyone who does not vote, can complain about it. If you think it stinks, fight to make it better instead of using your blog to complain. No one likes a complainer or quitter and they never get anything done.

     
  9. Gordy

    While I agree with most of what you said, not voting IMO does disqualify you from complaining.

    Once upon a time, a band called Rush had a song about trees with a real good lyric in it. It said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    That song came along in the 70’s, and I have regurgitated it in many speeches over the years. If there was ever a time it fit, it is right now.

     
  10. Jeff Mell

    Lloyd,

    You don’t strike me as someone who has ever watched the show South Park but during the 2004 election cycle than ran an episode where the grade school kids have to vote on a new mascot. They let the kids decide on the two choices and the choose a giant douche and a turd sandwich. When one of the kids says he is not voting they exile him from town. This is becoming a more frequent problem in American elections. Voting for the lesser of two evils should not be your only choice. I think the solution is to put none of the above as a ballot option and if it gets the most votes they have to put someone else up to vote on.

     
  11. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    I feel like I volunteered to put be put in the stocks and have rotten tomatoes thrown at me.
    My point was to illustrate my displeasure with my voting options and argue for the diminution of the poltical duopoly that strangles the system today. I recommend a recent Freakonomics episode which discussed the problem and possible cures. The system is sick but fixable. I don’t think being a lemming is always the best approach to an election which offers lousy choices.

     
    1. Peter

      In Wisconsin there typically is a third party candidate to pull the lever for. That is always my choice, I recommend that to everyone in order to upset the apple cart of entrenchment. I am always a little puzzled how so many intellectual people get wrapped up in electioneering for a team. Really? How do these smart people follow politics like their favorite sports team?

       
  12. Blue Max CNC

    Lloyd,
    Sometimes you have to vote with your feet, or with a moving van. I volunteered as a election clerk and worked a polling place. I saw a foreboding on the face of almost everyone who voted. The current political climate pits two groups against each other yet, like you have seen, it seems they feed off of each other and proper solutions are rarely found. There is also allot of Graf, making our system more and more third world. This third world conversion slowly destroys us from within. Eventually we become a country of have nots who scrape for the basics, ruled by slum lords who shoot up mythical southside ghetto’s. Wait did I say mythical.

     
  13. KR

    I extremely dislike the two party system as well but I always make sure that I at least vote for all of the propositions and measures so I have a say in how I am taxed and how much debt my city/county/state goes into. And I feel that my vote really does matter for the positions at the local level. The higher up the position, the more money it takes to run and the more indebted the politicians are to their donors so that’s a problem.

     
  14. FF

    I’m sorry it took you 50+ years of wasted 2 hour sessions to figure out just how silly the system is. In 58 years, I’ve never voted, and never even registered. Waste of time indeed.
    As Sam Clemens said “If it made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it”. And, it makes me chuckle to hear that good ‘ole redneck line “if’n ya don’t vote, ya kaint complain”. Funny stuff. I am a tax paying citizen of the USA, and that means the elected officials work for me. So, yes I damn well can complain. What’s the use?

     
  15. Peter

    I know you like and respect Seth Godin Lloyd. I read his musings nearly everytime they come across, as I do yours. I think Seth provides the counter to the voter fatigue you are obviously experiencing…. I’m fairly certain Mr. Godin will not mind my sharing his writing via copy an paste… Here is his blog from Tuesday, November 7th, 2018
    ————————-
    Who cares?
    On almost every issue that divides the electorate (in the US and abroad), the group that gets out the vote will win. In most elections, the more some candidates spend, the more disillusioned the electorate becomes. The goal is to keep the opponent’s supporters from caring enough to vote. These are not unrelated facts. We’re being played, manipulated and pushed around. It’s important to not fall for it.
    Here’s the simple math:
    If you’re tempted to not vote because of the vitriol or the imperfect nature of the choices, then you’re supporting a downward cycle, in which the candidate who best suppresses voter turnout of the opponent’s backers wins.
    On the other hand, if you always vote for the least-bad option, then a forward cycle will kick in, in which candidates (and their consultants and backers, who are also causing this problem) will realize that always being a little less bad than the other guy is a winning strategy. Which leads to a virtuous cycle in the right direction.
    Don’t get tricked. Show up.

     
  16. Max

    Opinions are neither RIGHT nor WRONG they are, ONLY Opinions, “food for debate”

    Take from the Opinions ONLY that what you deem fits.

    Take what you deemed to fit and add it to your arsenal of thought so that YOU TOO may build an opinion.

    Simple. How can some unsubscribe from an opinion ???

     
  17. Bruskie

    I feel Lloyd’s frustration. Since the supreme court decided that corporations are people and allowed them to saturate politicians and elections with ungodly amounts of money, it is said corporations that control the country, the politicians they own and they write all the laws. Until this decision is overturned or fixed, and i don’t see that happening anytime soon, by the same bought and payed for politicians, we can expect nothing better. That’s probably why Trump is president today.

    Sometimes the easiest decision to make is no decision at all.

    BTW, I did vote early, I simply held my nose while I did it.

     

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