Respectful Insolence

As hard as it is to believe, it’s finally here.

Election Day.

After two years of painful, annoying, surprising, infuriating, and, on rare occasions, uplifting campaigning, it all comes down to this: Voters, alone in little booths, casting ballots that will decide which direction our nation goes for the next four years. I know that there were times when you (and I) thought this day would never come. The length and intensity of American Presidential campaigns have turned into more of an endurance contest than anything else, a two year Iditarod through the wasteland, not to mention a test of which campaign can raise the most money and organize its supporters the best. Whether such skills translate into skill at governing and leading is debatable at best.

I’m not going to tell you whom to vote for. Regular readers know my inclinations. All I’m going to say to my fellow Americans who have not yet voted is: Vote. There’s no excuse for not doing it. Regardless of what happens today, history will be made. Here’s hoping it’s history that gives us hope. By the time this uncharacteristically brief bit of prose posts, I will be at my local poll. Find time today to make it to yours, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 4, 2008

    We’ve heard the last speech
    And the final commercial
    So all that is left is to get out the vote.
    And what’s within reach?
    Though it’s quite controversial–
    Elections with no major problems of note!

    With no hanging chads
    And no ballots bewilderin’
    To mess up the message delivered this day
    So all moms and dads
    Can say to their children
    That’s how it works in the U S of A.

    And later tonight
    With a smile on his face
    The winner will stand in the spotlight and speak.
    We are done with this fight!
    But remember, the race
    For Two Thousand and Twelve will be starting next week.

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/11/check-in.html

  2. #2 MW
    November 4, 2008

    You are a man who believes in rational action. Can I get an exemption if it’s mathematically impossible that any of the races in my jurisdiction could be affected by my vote?

    Obama and Jackson could not lose in my jurisdiction if the skies opened up and God Almighty shouted, “If you vote for a Democrat I will PERSONALLY throw you into the lake of fire ten seconds later.” Assuming I were to want to vote against either of them (which I neither affirm nor deny) it would make absolutely no difference. Machine politicians will likewise win all other races in my district. More than half of the elections aren’t even contested. There is literally no point to my voting.

    So how about that exemption?

  3. #3 Dawn
    November 4, 2008

    Orac…I’ll go vote after work. Get to work before the polls open so couldn’t do it before.

    MW…just remember that if you don’t vote, you really have no right to complain about your government, since you didn’t participate in the selection of said government.

    Cuttlefish, OM…very nice. You never cease to amaze me.

  4. #4 Orac
    November 4, 2008

    You are a man who believes in rational action. Can I get an exemption if it’s mathematically impossible that any of the races in my jurisdiction could be affected by my vote?

    No, because surely there must be local candidates and local issues where your vote can make a difference. I live in a state where Obama is clearly going to win by a significant margin, barring an inversion in the time-space continuum, but I voted.

  5. #5 Ranson
    November 4, 2008

    Off-topic, because the crazy never ends:

    The real cause of autism? Rain.

    Okay, so that’s not what they actually say, but you just want to slap them around and yell, “Correlation! Causation! Correlation! Causation!”

    Maybe the chemtrails are turning rain into vaccines.

  6. #6 BB
    November 4, 2008

    Voted by absentee ballot a couple of weeks ago. Lines are long at my polling place, I heard. My tech waited on line a half-hour to do his civic duty. Feels good to have registered my discontent, my hopes, and my dreams.

    It’s going to be a loooong day though.

  7. #7 Calli Arcale
    November 4, 2008

    I’ll be voting at lunchtime today. (I have a dentist’s appointment, so I’m going to kill two birds with one errand run. :-P )

    I think it’s important to vote no matter how skewed the race is in your area. There are several reasons. First of all, let your voice be heard, and your opinion counted. Because even if your vote doesn’t end up affecting the outcome, it is still counted. That’s important: your vote counts, even if the person you vote for loses! Secondly, and more importantly, how can you be certain that the political machine isn’t just winning because there are too many cynics unwilling to vote for an unpopular candidate? If you choose to discard your vote because you don’t think your candidate has a chance of winning, then you are part of the reason they will not win.

    So, vote. If you simply cannot bring yourself to vote in the Presidential election, at least vote on the other questions that will be placed before you. In my district, there is the presidential race, a senatorial race, two open spots on the city council (in a year when my city has had some especially contentious political issues), and a whole passel of judicial posts. Heck, it’s even important to vote for the soil & water conservation officers. A lot of folks never bother to vote on those, or vote based on which name sounds more interesting. So your vote could make a big difference in those kinds of races.

    Vote!

  8. #8 marilove
    November 4, 2008

    MW, I live in Arizona, where McCain will probably win. However … I will still be voting for Obama. You just never know.

    Also, there are quite a few local issues that I care deaply about. I will be voting NO on Prop 102 (our version of Cali’s Prop 8) and I will be voting for Dan Saban because if we have to deal with yet MORE Sheriff Joe, I may cut a bitch.

    There has got to be some local issues you care about. If not, you’re lazy.

  9. #9 D. C. Sessions
    November 4, 2008

    You are a man who believes in rational action. Can I get an exemption if it’s mathematically impossible that any of the races in my jurisdiction could be affected by my vote?

    Just the opposite!

    As an Arizona resident my vote is historically as unlikely to tip results as yours. This is profoundly liberating! It means that I can actually send signals other than “you win!” to our Ruling Class. In particular, I can vote to either reduce the margin of victory for the foreordained winner or vote for minor parties so that the majors get nervous.

    I like our Lords and Masters to be nervous. I particularly like them to be worrying that the herd might stampede and go off-message. If they think that their stock talking points aren’t working any more, they might actually have to think about something other than zero-sum games against The Other Party.

    Go. Make a politician sweat. It feels good.

  10. #10 D. C. Sessions
    November 4, 2008

    Also, there are quite a few local issues that I care deaply about. I will be voting NO on Prop 102 (our version of Cali’s Prop 8) and I will be voting for Dan Saban because if we have to deal with yet MORE Sheriff Joe, I may cut a bitch.

    Hey, neighbor!

    If you want to point out to any of our neighbors who haven’t voted yet what a crock 102 is, look up Loving v. Virginia. Arizona doesn’t have the authority to deny the validity of marriages performed in other States.

    I confirmed that this weekend with an attorney I know. Poor soul was shocked that I actually remembered the “Full faith and credit” clause from high-school civics, and nearly fainted when he cited Loving and I knew the details.

    Bottom line: 102 is a crock and is at best symbolic legislation. One might argue that the State Constitution is not a good place for symbolic gestures.

  11. #11 JoshS
    November 4, 2008

    Off-topic, Orac, but I don’t know how to contact you by any other means than commenting. Did you see the wire article on autism being linked to (wait for it) rainfall levels?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE4A34WG20081104

    I’d love to see your take on this. I’ve only skimmed it, and while I know gut reactions are worthless, my first one was an eye-roll. Can we have some insolent dissection, please?

    Off to do my civic duty. . . .

  12. #12 JoshS
    November 4, 2008

    Whoops – comment-reading fail. Ranson posted the autism/rain thing first.

  13. #13 Adrienne
    November 4, 2008

    Just voted. Got permission to telework so I could vote at a non-peak time. Blessedly, I encountered only a very short line.

    Voted for Obama, of course, and I happen to live in what is considered a “battleground” state this time: Virginia. I find this tremendously exciting, as I grew up in solidly Democratic DC and never felt that my vote counted for much there (along the lines of what MW said).

  14. #14 Laser Potato
    November 4, 2008

    I just voted (for Obama, of course). When Mom comes back this evening we’re gonna go to the Korean supermarket down the street and pick us a live Tilapia for supper.

  15. #15 The Perky Skeptic
    November 4, 2008

    Hee, Orac’s brief prose, followed up by Cuttlefish’s brief poetry, was a great way to start my lunchtime blog-reading! I not only VOTED, I took my five-year-old with me to witness the democratic process in action! And what action!!! I LOVE my precinct! We’ve got great turnout, people get really excited, and it’s a joy to behold!

    It doesn’t hurt that the vast majority are voting Obama, either. ;)

  16. #16 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 4, 2008

    2 1/2 hours of pure unorganized chaos in my Mount Pleasant SC district this morning. Not sure they realized how many people would be there to vote today. I think I overheard that there were people there at 5:30 am waiting for the polls to start at 7am. I got there at 6:30

    It eventually worked out.

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    November 4, 2008

    I think I overheard that there were people there at 5:30 am waiting for the polls to start at 7am.

    $HERSELF was there as the polls opened at 06:00 and there was a short line waiting. The very dark-skinned gent at the head of the line said he’d been there since 05:00; the next voter showed up about a half-hour later.

    He said the wait was worth it, because he’d waited all his life for the chance to cast the first vote in his precinct for a black President.

  18. #18 Brian Seiler
    November 4, 2008

    You know, I feel obligated to point one glaring flaw with this argument – the idea that I’m somehow obligated to vote. I’m not voting in this election. Not only do I have no reason to expect that anything I do will make a difference (I live in Texas), but none of the candidates I have seen deserve my endorsement. That’s what bothers me about this idea that I’m somehow obligated to cast my vote in support of somebody – ANYBODY – or I’m a bad American. Simply put, that’s as fundamentally wrong as anything could possibly be. A vote is an advocacy – can anybody explain why abstention isn’t a perfectly viable response when you legitimately don’t care which evil of the slate you’re being offered is eventually chosen? I don’t think anybody could accuse me of apathy in the sense that I don’t bother to follow or understand world events, so what’s wrong with me taking back an hour of my time?

  19. #19 D. C. Sessions
    November 4, 2008

    Not only do I have no reason to expect that anything I do will make a difference (I live in Texas), but none of the candidates I have seen deserve my endorsement.

    Sweet! That leaves you free to vote against someone. Or lots of someones.

    Piss them off, scare them, uphold the proud history of the Lone Star Republic and make them afraid that maybe they don’t have all the answers. Vote for “none of the above” if Texas allows it, start an initiative if Texas doesn’t, or maybe just vote for Libertarians or Greens.

    Because one way or another, you’re voting — even if your vote is for the “I can’t be bothered” party.

  20. #20 Joe
    November 4, 2008

    Morning in America is an odd subtitle; wasn’t that Reagan’s claim; just like FDR was known for jobs, and Nixon for going to China?

    Now, under George W.M.D. Bush, every morning in America jobs are going to China.

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    November 4, 2008

    No one obligates you to vote, Brian Seiler. Nor are you obligated to vote for the candidates on the ballot if you do decide to vote. You can write-in other candidates. This is not discarding your vote. It is the only way to *say* “I do not approve of any of these candidates” and have it actually get counted. For instance, my uncle routinely votes for my mother for President. Sure, it’s not going to change the nature of the White House. But it records his sentiment.

    More importantly, he’s there to vote on the local elections too. On my ballot, I had two questions to vote on: should the MN state constitution be amended to add a sales tax to fund conservation and arts, and should my hometown sell bonds to itself so it can buy a big chunk of green space that the owner wanted to develop into condos (which would require a variance to the zoning ordinances, since the city code requires a certain amount of green space be preserved)? These questions will have a much more immediate affect on me than the Presidential question, and my vote is much more significant on them. So if I didn’t care for any of the Presidential candidates on the ballot, I would still vote. I’d just vote for “none of the above” (effectively) for Prez and then vote my conscience on those important questions. (There’s also a hotly contested Senate race here, where a single vote might actually make the difference.)

    So I guess, if you genuinely do not care how these various questions are answered, don’t bother voting. But if you do care, then take the time to vote, even if you don’t like any of the options. Register your displeasure. You’re not obligated to do so, but I think it’s a good idea.

  22. #22 steppen wolf
    November 4, 2008

    Hi guys,

    I am wondering if any ScienceBlogger is doing live-blogging of the election??? I am, so if you are interested, check out my blog for updates every ten to twenty minutes max!

  23. #23 Orac
    November 4, 2008

    I see that Joe caught the intended irony in my title.

  24. #24 D. C. Sessions
    November 4, 2008

    I see that Joe caught the intended irony in my title.

    The rest of us were vaccinated.

  25. #25 Julie Stahlhut
    November 4, 2008

    I see that Joe caught the intended irony in my title.

    Actually, it was ironic in 1980. This time it might be real. (Although for those of us who are not morning people, we’ll just have to use our imaginations.)

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.