By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
The Presidential election of 2020 will be;
A. The most rigged election ever
B. The most important election ever
C. The most contested election ever
D. All of the above
I think we all know the answer to the multiple-choice question regarding the upcoming Presidential election.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to sludge through the next few weeks and the days that seem packed with tell-alls, scandals, denials and accusations.
Professional political operatives will say that we rarely, if ever, vote for candidates, issues or even platforms. Our votes are ultimately for either hope or fear: hope for what our candidate (or party) will do, in contrast to our fear of what the other candidate (or party) will do.
Our candidate will “save” the country, the system or our cultural identity, the other will threaten or even destroy it.
Politics was not always seen in such stark terms of course. There was a time, or there have been a few times, when earnest candidates of both parties worked together for the common good.
We in Washington state had conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans and our first female governor, Dixy Lee Ray, was a Democrat who was more conservative than most Republicans – then or now.
Politicians, especially now, in our bite-sized, Twitter induced era of milli-second attention spans, need slogans and soundbites to make us vote for them.
Our issues, from racial tensions, to pandemics to economic convulsions might be complex, but our political slogans must be simple.
Bumper stickers aren’t as popular as they used to be, but our collective brain-power has been so reduced that a simple phrase or question is all we can handle.
And yes, most of us are content to base our decisions regarding our nation’s direction, identity and destiny on a short, concise all-purpose statement.
Ronald Reagan had one of the best ones back in 1980; “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
Who could give an honest and objective answer to that question? What criteria would we use? Four years is a long time. Our careers, our relationships and our larger economy could change a lot in four years.
Who has a clear distinct image or memory of where we were four years ago?
It was not a fair question then, and it’s not a fair question now.
What does the office of the President have to do with our sense of accomplishment (or disappointment) in our personal lives or career track?
Very little, maybe even nothing. But that’s the beauty of political slogans, they are the ultimate social Rorschach test where we all see what we want to see – or maybe what we are told to see.
MAGA, for example, is a powerful, identifying message, but what does it mean?
It means, of course, very different things to each one of us depending what we bring to it.
Supporters and detractors of MAGA vote for the same reason and with the same passion – they both vote as if their lives depended on it.
And in this case, they are both right.
And for both parties, the answer is the same; vote.
The ultimate irony though, is that the largest constituency, the largest voting bloc by far, is the group that doesn’t bother to vote at all.
That was the largest voting bloc in 2016 – the number of eligible and registered voters that did not even bother to check a few boxes, mark a few lines and send in or drop off their ballots.
“Don’t vote. It only encourages them” might be their rallying cry, if they had one.
But maybe they don’t even need one. To not vote is to make a decision, to make a public statement, that like MAGA, is subject to interpretation.
Are these non-voters happy with whoever wins? Are they unhappy no matter who wins?
Do they reserve the right to complain no matter who wins?
Is the right to NOT vote as important, and as deeply held, as the right TO vote?
Not voting just means that your voice won’t be heard, and someone else’s will.
So what’s the worst that could happen?
Accumulated votes are what matter. How informed any of us might be is an entirely different question.
2016 brought us what is euphemistically called “the low information” voter – the voter, perhaps inspired by some passionate and usually completely bogus website, tweet or rumor.
Please, if you vote, base your vote on verified information.
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. – George Jean Nathan
Candidates you might not like, or a referendum that you don’t agree with might be voted in. And a few eccentric candidates might get voted in along the way.
Ever hear of GoodSpaceGuy? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodspaceguy) He’s run in at least twenty-one elections for a variety of offices from state senate to governor as a Democrat, Republican, Trump Republican, Libertarian and as a candidate of the non-existent “Employmentwealth Party”.
Who knows? Maybe one day, with a few more votes, he just might get elected. Stranger things have happened.
Some nations require voting. Every citizen should participate in every election and if they don’t, they are subject to a small fine – about the same as a traffic citation.
Should we institute that system here? Should we be legally forced to support any candidate or issue?
I like being able to vote – being forced to vote is not something I’m comfortable with.
I make a point of voting in every election, but I would not like the idea of being required to vote.
I don’t always vote for every candidate or every issue on the ballot. Sometimes I don’t feel convinced that I know enough or even understand the issue, so I don’t vote on it.
But that is also a statement of choice.
Whether you are happy with how things are right now, or whether you think our nation is in the biggest mess ever, whether you think this candidate is the only one who can fix it or that the other one will lead us to certain ruin, your option, your civic obligation is the same – when you get that ballot in the mail, fill it out to the best of your knowledge and ability, send it in or drop it in one of the local drop boxes and, it whatever small way, make your voice heard. Vote.
Does your vote really matter?
Many precincts across the state, and certainly many areas of Pierce County, have had their election results tilted by just one vote. And it just might be yours.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world:
indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it. – Mark Twain
True patriotism is never blind – either to corruption or ideology. Our vote, our national and local vote, is our voice, the voice that keeps those who purport to represent us on their best game. They deserve no less, and we certainly deserve no less from them.