As George Jean Nathan once said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” For that and many other reasons, I will certainly be voting in the upcoming election. But one must look at the grander picture to identify what is wrong and what needs to be changed in our modern political system. Now, anyone who has ever met me knows I am not an idealist. However, I am having a difficult time with the responsibility of voting in my first presidential election.
It is certainly an important decision that needs to be made and should not be taken lightly. However, there seems to be some sort of mass focus on the idea of voting for someone who can actually win an election instead of someone who truly represents their own feelings and opinions. I am not going to waste your time railing against the prevalent two-party system of “democracy” found in America, but if people really voted their conscience, things might be a little different. As Jerry Garcia, the late, great leader of the Grateful Dead once quipped, “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” That is exactly the problem we are faced with this year in the presidential election.
I personally cannot bring myself to vote for one of the two people that have been deemed worthy of becoming president. It seems ridiculous that a country of some 260-odd million people cannot find someone who would truly be suited for the job of president. That is why I am literally going to “throw my vote away” and vote for someone I feel comfortable with representing me. It is of no importance who I am voting for, but be assured you have never heard of him before.
Now you may be thinking I am crazy, but I am actually going to vote for someone who I feel is qualified for the job. He is not someone who has risen through ranks of some political party that does not represent me. He was not selected by a bunch of party apparatchiks as the person who could get the most votes. He does not attempt to maintain the party’s platform while actually grasping for moderate voters. That just seems wrong. It is strange that the entire electoral system is shaped to discourage those who would be best for the job and to encourage inferior candidates to hold the highest office in this country.
The selection of the United States president is one of the most personal and important decisions a person makes every four years. We each are selecting someone to make decisions of the highest importance for our entire nation. As is inherent in the system of representative democracy, everyone is selecting someone whom they would like to represent their interests in the government. There is something in me that abhors the partisanship that is part of the system. I admire the quality of Supreme Court justices like John arshall, who saw his duty to be above partisan squabbles. That is the difference between politics and the law, but I still cannot bring myself to accept the widespread proliferation of partisanship in America.
I guess if there is any sort of idealism in me, it is the belief that someone can truly represent the American public without being beholden to any group or section of population. I believe there is an objective good for America, which should be the goal of the president and all public officials. What is good for America is not defined by the fact that you are a Democrat, a Republican, a Catholic or a Muslim but by the fact that you are American. With that in mind, the president would be the kind of person that could make decisions for the benefit of America, not for the rich or poor, Northerner or Southerner, but for the benefit of America. It just seems that with the mindset of the majority of America, this is truly impossible. But, we can all have our utopian dreams.
Fortunately, “Truth is not determined by majority vote,” as Doug Gywn oft remarked, so that the presidential election does not really mean much when it comes down to truth and justice. If we want to be realistic, it is just a matter of some sort of bizarre popularity contest determined by a voting populace made up of disenchanted, disinterested Americans who are lost in the waves of our modern world. I urge everyone to vote with his conscience, his heart and a little bit of the brain, instead of classifying all beliefs and placing your vote in the box for the Democrat or the Republican who can “win” the election. If you vote for who you think can win an election, you are doing a disservice to yourself, to your family and to our nation.
Marshall Van Valen is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.