Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voting with my Money

U.S. democracy is flawed. Yes - I know that the automatic reaction of most Americans is to yell down anyone that says anything even mildly critical of our country, but hear me out. In the coming elections, unless you live in just a handful of states such as Ohio and Florida, your vote means absolutely zero. For example, if like me you live in California and you vote Republican, you might as well be tossing your vote in the garbage. Obama is going to win here. Pretty much ANY Democratic candidate would win here, regardless of his or her identity. If you are voting democratic, why bother? The Democrats win by such a large margin in this state that any individual vote is simply meaningless. You could tell exactly the same story in reverse about Texas. Reality is that the results for most political races in this country are known well in advance of election day. In fact, they are known years in advance. 

Which brings me to the main point of this post: in this country elections are not won, they are purchased. They are purchased through advertising, mass mailings and paid staff on the ground. The Party that raises more money, wins (at least it stands a much better chance to win). Even though my vote for President counts for nothing in my home state of California, my political contribution to Barak Obama goes a long way to buying influence in other parts of the country where votes do count for something. So, in lieu of any real political influence by ballot, I resort to casting my true vote by contributing to my political candidate of choice. He can then spend my donation on convincing the few whose votes mean anything to vote for him...

A sad state of affairs this is. One way to eliminate this foolishness - at least as far as the Presidential elections go - is to do away with the electoral college. I mean, why should my vote count for any less than one cast by a voter in Colorado, Ohio or Pennsylvania? How is it possible that in this day and age we are still willing to accept the possibility that a candidate who gets more votes actually loses the election (Bush v. Gore) because of some anachronistic political device? Isn't it about time that we got a real democracy in this country?

6 comments:

chicaliconin said...

You raise a good point. Though, how can you be sure your money went to advertising. Most of the advertising money comes from people major contributors and the party itself. However, its still unclear to me where the money you donate actually goes. My guess, new dresses for the wife and kids. Payments to interns, etc. Maybe I'm wrong, but I sure would like to see a budget from the campaign trail.

The other thing to consider, is that advertising, be it true or false, can potentially incorrectly lead voters to vote for the wrong party (in some viewers eyes). So much information is not shared, and the game of he said she said is always advertised. As long as four years from now your willing to accept that your donation created a problem, I guess you can feel good about it in the beginning too. Haha.

Anyway, I must say, I do enjoy your blog.

Shadox said...

Thank you for the kind words!

And yes, I am willing to take responsibility for any damage my actions cause - after all, it's no different than any potential damage my vote could cause if it actually had any power...

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if much of the money donated to political candidates is wasted. I imagine much of it is spent paying for campaign operatives, logistics and, yes, advertising, but once again, reality is that if I want any influence at all on the political process, and since I live in Califonira, my best bet is to buy it with political donations... sad.

Ren said...

I'd guess that posting arguments here is probably more effective than your donation -- though I guess that really depends on the size of your donation.

Regarding the electoral college, I'm hesitant to scrap it entirely as I still believe in states' rights. However, I think the winner-take-all system most states have has a disenfranchising effect. Without that, every congressional district would matter, which is were the voters actually have power (at the congressional district level).

Shadox said...

what's the difference? In my congressional district no Republican would ever get elected... the problem may be a bit smaller but it is not changed in principle...

I don't believe in states' rights, I believe in people's rights. One man, one vote. That's what they call a democracy...

wannabe said...

I take voting seriously. The GOP has used cultural issues to prevent voters from thinking about pocket book issues. The Democrats use government aid to prevent voters from thinking about pocket book issues. that is my two cents

Ren said...

"what's the difference?"

Well, for one thing it would change the current situation as far as battleground states. I guess it would create "battleground districts", but many, many more of them I expect.

Also, the ability for you to participate in grass-roots efforts that affect the results in your district, and thus the overall election, would be increased.

The problem I have with removing states' rights is that the larger and further removed the government is, the less control we are able to influence. The Federal Government (even the title references that it is supposed to be a group of states) has been given way too much power over the last century and a half.

And some may call it a democracy but I expect you know as well as I that it is a *representative* democracy. In a true democracy, that "one man, one vote" concept would apply to all issues. Every individual would vote on every issue. I'm pretty sure we don't want that.