Is Donald Trump a dangerous madman? Is Hillary Clinton assassinating her political foes? Is someone rigging the ballots and cheating us out of our elections?
I’m pretty sure Trump is far more clever and personable than he lets on, and I’m also quite certain that nobody who’s as much in the spotlight as Senator Clinton could sneak away from her Secret Service entourage long enough to commit murder. But the answer to that third question is an emphatic “YES!”
Let me tell you who’s cheating you out of your vote: It’s you. Yes, you.
You’re a typical American consumer. I know this because you’re reading this article, which is on the Internet. That means, one, you have Internet (duh!) and two, you have a device that can access the Web. Those devices generally don’t come cheap and internet access isn’t free, so you must have income. Income equals job, equals transportation and decent clothing, equals taxpayer and consumer.
And that means you fill the mold like any other consumer. You watch the ads on TV; you hear them on the radio or between your YouTube videos. You buy things because the packaging is pretty or because they’re on sale or because your best friend bought one and raves about it. You’re controlled by the advertising — influenced, anyway. Just like everyone else.
Oh, I know; you’re the exception. You’re using free WiFi, you don’t watch TV, you buy only responsible clothing that’s never seen a sweatshop, and you bike to work to save the rainforests or the ozone layer or the twelve bucks a day that gas would cost. That’s fine. It’s even admirable, in a tiny little “I did my part” kinda way. Not heroic, exactly, but hey, what else can you do? You’re just one person.
You know what one person can do? One person can talk to another person. One person can talk about the issues, or politics, or even where to buy sweatshop-free clothing. Which is good, because I actually don’t know where I could go to get a tee shirt that was crafted by someone who earns a living wage. No, seriously; I really don’t. But you could tell me.
That’s what one person can do.
Let me tell you what else one person can do. One person can vote.
Oh, one vote isn’t much. One vote won’t decide the presidential race, and even if it did, what difference would it make? Seriously, if Clinton gets elected, she’ll be a candidate without a great deal of support, one that’s disliked – even hated – by a large percentage of the populace. Trump’s numbers are even worse in that regard, but it’s a matter of degree. These are two of the most despised people in the history of American politics – deservedly or not, it’s true – and neither one could enter the White House with massive power, with an intact agenda. Come to that, Bernie Sanders couldn’t have managed that either, even if he had won the primary.
So a single vote doesn’t have much power, no. But a person, now — a person has amazing potential in politics. A single person can talk to their friends about a candidate they like, or a problem they think ought to be addressed. A single person can persuade other people.
Kinda like what I’m doing right now.
See, you’re the victim of a great and pervasive lie, one that elected officials and powerful political parties want you to believe: It’s that one person can’t change things.
One person can change things. In fact, the only change that ever happens is started by one person. One person with an idea, with a new thought, with insight, with the passion behind that new thought that drives them to share it with other people. A second person who’s enthusiastic enough to talk about that new idea will share with the people around them, and soon the idea takes off; it grows; it goes viral.
There’s something else that one person can do: That person can volunteer for someone running for office. You like Jill Stein? Spend a week’s vacation passing out flyers and putting up lawn signs for her. You like Gary Johnson? Take two weeks off. Okay; so I’m biased.
Yes, I am biased. And that’s not wrong; it’s a good thing. That’s my whole point; that’s why I’m telling you all this, is because it’s a good thing to tell people about candidates you like, your position on issues. So I’m telling you that I really enjoy listening to Gary Johnson’s political ads, enough that I’m willing to support him based just on that, because I’m sick and tired of everyone else preaching doom and gloom. I like a lot of his positions — I disagree with a few, but not that many, and who’s perfect? Far as I’m concerned, he’s pretty damn good.
You see what I mean? Now, someone who’s never heard of Gary Johnson might just think he’s a decent guy and maybe take the time to learn something or watch an ad. That’s the power of one person right there.
But maybe none of the candidates are good enough for you. Maybe none of them agree with your position on nuclear power, or that the rent is too damn high, or that everyone should have a pony. Ya know what? That means you should run.
Yes, you. You can run too.
Oh, maybe not as President. If you’re reading this for advice, you probably don’t have enough experience to be President anyway. But there’s a lot of other offices you could run for to get the experience: Congress, or the State House, City Council. Even the school board. It’s not that hard to get your name on the ballot, and if you’re willing to work at it, and you honestly think you could do a better job than those schmucks that are running now (and who couldn’t?) then there’s no reason at all you can’t get yourself elected. (Trust me; I know some Congressmen. You’re probably smarter.)
But maybe you like someone and you don’t think they can win. Maybe you like Jill Stein, who’s polling around 1%. Isn’t that wasting your vote, wasting your time?
No. No it isn’t.
Because that’s another lie we’re told all the time, one we’re programmed to believe by all the political ads. We’ve been fed the idea that we can only choose between the leading two candidates because otherwise, our vote is somehow wasted. It’s not wasted, not at all: It’s an expression of your honest opinion, of your support for someone or something that isn’t popular. And don’t think that people aren’t watching; they are. Politicians live and die by what you think.
Nobody ever said you have to win all the time. You do however, have to fight for what you believe in. Because if you don’t, who will? Besides, if you don’t, I’ll think less of you.
What’s worse: So will you.
So get out there. Educate yourself; find out who your candidates are and what they stand for. Figure out which ones you like, which ones you don’t like, and absolutely figure out why. Don’t just take my word for it or your dad’s word for it or listen to what Oprah or the ladies on the View want you to do. Oh, listen to people you respect, but you should also go out and learn on your own, or you’ll just be falling for some media director’s spin control. And voting in ignorance? That’s worse than not voting at all.
Finally, remember this: Nothing could be a greater waste of a vote than to cast one for a candidate you don’t approve of, don’t trust, don’t like, and don’t want as president. Or in Congress. Or running your school board, for that matter.
Don’t waste your vote.
(Gary Johnson FTNL!)