It’s November 7, 2022, a Monday, and I’m wondering what I’ll be thinking two days from now. What I might write. How I might reflect on what happened and why. How free I’ll feel about sharing it, considering where Julian Assange languishes, … and why. But, this is how I feel today.
As I am not currently in the United States, I vote through absentee ballot after having fulfilled all requirements therefor in Marion County, Florida, my last place of residence in the United States. I’ve voted this way for over a decade and have not had a problem, until now. This year, for whatever reason, my absentee ballot did not arrive. I’m hoping someone else doesn’t have it and if they’ve somehow acquired it, that they won’t be turning it in. That is a frequent phenomenon in many parts of the world, Colombia (where I currently reside) included. But we spend a great deal of effort seeking to insure electoral integrity and minimization of electoral corruption and fraud. Not an easy task, but we try. In the United States today, … not so much. Voting in the United States has become something of a crapshoot lately but apparently, nothing can be done about that, at least not now. And United States midterm elections are tomorrow.
As usual, polarization and fear seem to be the main tools being used to drive voters to the polls. It’s all about the monsters, bigots and racists who make up half of our population; not about issues (other than abortion and gun rights, the old standbys) … or performance. “Please, leave memory and logic safely locked away in the basement or attic, or somewhere else you don’t frequent. Do not, for any reason, use them when making electoral decisions”. Trust your emotions, those that have been manipulated by the corporate media and through armies of internet trolls for the last decade, and through the thousands of direct email appeals made to you by earnest candidates seeking just a few more of your hard earned dollars, in order to “save democracy”.
This is another election for voting against something amorphous (a greater evil) instead of something in which we believe, and above all, for ignoring facts. Facts such as: war in the Ukraine and attempts to stoke war with China by leaders who disdain military service for themselves and their families; economic sanctions imposed by our government against others that hurt us as much as the targets (unless they’re much weaker than we are, then, who cares about suffering by the people, weapons sales are what count). And what about healthcare for all, a guaranteed minimum income, free education, infrastructure repair? Remember those issues from two years ago? Sorry, the money for that has been sent to the Ukraine so it can buy weapons from our “defense” industry. Nuclear war? Is it really worth the risk just so our wealthiest can get wealthier? Apparently so. And how about liberty at home, the right to make personal decisions about what we put in our bodies, or the right to opine freely (free of censorship), how’s that going? And the economy and inflation, and how the world perceives the United States?
I find it amazing how lightly we heed Albert Einstein’s observation concerning insanity, you know “continuing to do the same thing but anticipating different results”. Lemmings are apparently our heroes. Perhaps this time those currently in control of our federal government (those we elect but also those who run “our” all-powerful unelected bureaucracy) really do have our best interests at heart and are not, like Lucy in the comic strip Peanuts (when acting as a football placeholder for Linus), just waiting to fool us again. Of course, if one believes the foregoing, then (a), there are several bridges for sale at bargain prices one might invest in; and, (b), there are Arab billionaires so grateful for the understanding of United States’ citizens in keeping them in power, who, if you will just send them your banking data and passwords, will deposit a million or so dollars in your account.
We have different opinions concerning policies that we believe will best attain sociopolitical goals that best suit our priorities, but for the most part, we share common goals, no matter how political leaders seek to polarize and manipulate us. We want to be personally and economically secure; we want to live in a world at peace where different societies are free to make their own decisions, free of meddling and especially free of invasion and occupation; we want to avoid violence at all levels; we want access to fair and equitable systems of conflict resolution that respect our legal rights; we want to be free to express our opinions, even if we’re wrong; and we want to be free of intrusive government interference with our lives. Our political institutions, which supposedly combine democracy with liberty and minority rights (three incompatible concepts), are supposedly operated based on our electoral decisions, although in reality, our electoral options are limited by a rigid, albeit informal, two party dictatorship, which, with the essential assistance of the corporate media, limits who our choices as candidates will be. That frustrates us, but apparently, not enough to do anything about it, thus, rendering us insane, at least according to Einstein. That’s because we have been brainwashed into believing that we can’t change the system. If we can’ fight city hall”, how much less powerful are we with respect to the federal government. Just ask Donald Trump or Tulsi Gabbard or Dennis Kucinich?
But here’s something to consider today, in light of tomorrow’s elections, and if it seems reasonable to you, to implement tomorrow: If you can’t vote for either the current batch of self-serving, corrupt autocrats or for the major party opposition to the current batch of self-serving, corrupt autocrats (i.e., the Democrats or the GOP), then consider third parties and independents. There are plenty of great candidates there. Don’t become an accessary to the misery those currently in power are generating for people everywhere; or to the hate and polarization they’re causing, dividing us by race and gender and sexual orientation and nationality and attitudes towards religion, while they claim it’s their opponents who are responsible for all the foregoing.
Don’t waste your votes again. Misusing them is even worse than not using them.
This is a message I’ve been sharing every electoral cycle for decades which, in my naïve optimism, may mean that I’m as crazy as those who keep voting for the same rascals hoping that, this time, they’ve changed their spots for stripes, or vice versa.
Something to ponder as today morphs into tomorrow, and with which you’ll have to live long after tomorrow’s elections are history, or perhaps just literary fiction.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Oh hell, plagiarize it if you want!!!
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.