What just happened?

Yesterday I posted that I thought I would not have the energy to vote in this year’s primary. I did wind up voting. I don’t want to bore anyone too much with “my personal voting narrative,” but perhaps like some other people out there, my brain was flipping back and forth all day. I found myself trying to dissect my own motives for voting/not voting as much as thinking about the candidates’ positions. Too little too late I suppose. I didn’t make up my mind on what to do until after I spent five minutes sitting in my car at the polling place wolfing down a hamburger. I found that my unanswered questions eventually settled around three issues (or meta-issues, maybe):

–Did I want to vote today because I wanted to jump on a bandwagon or be part of “history” and “belong”? Should I indulge that instinct for a candidate who abstractly represented a movement I wanted, even if I wasn’t really confident about the candidate himself?

–Would a vote for a candidate whose message more genuinely and specifically resonated with me, but who had dropped out, be a “wasted vote”? Wasn’t my vote about “sending a message” to the media about the more viable candidates, instead of “remaining true to myself”?

–Was I really above “identity politics”? Could I, as a woman, afford NOT to vote for an experienced and highly credible female candidate, even if I despised the ossification she was a product (and perhaps promise) of? This last question I had not at all expected to even consider, but surprisingly it started to loom large in my mind.

There just didn’t seem to be any right answer. Maybe I was just overwhelmed by choices that were easier for other voters to sort out quickly. Movement, message, identity: all so confusing. If there had been just two clear-cut choices between good and evil it would have been so invigorating and inspiring. But it was so complicated a choice that I spent most of the day psychoanalyzing myself instead of reading more about the candidates. And in the end, it didn’t just feel like a vote, it felt like a commitment.

6 thoughts on “What just happened?

  1. JS

    When I vote, I only vote for local candidates, since the US has reached empire, but now is sliding back toward a Dark Age, as Jane Jacobs describes.

    Had I voted nationally, I would have voted for Ron Paul for a few reasons, and partly because he’s unelectable (based on some of his ideas). What bothers me most, is as much as we’re living a broken paradigm right now, is the inertia that comfortable (or unconscious fear of change?!) that great, as to hope the candidate that I’d vote wouldn’t be elected?

    Actually not, I hope!

  2. Phil

    In this post you state that you spent five minutes outside wolfing down a hamburger. In the comments to your prior post, you write that you “did in fact manage to haul myself to my elbows and agonizingly drag myself into my polling place, leaving a smeared blood trail behind me as I did so.”

    Just how rare was that burger?

  3. Mrs. Mecomber

    I don’t care about inertia, “electability,” party politics, or protest voting; I wish with all my heart that Ron Paul had won.

    The King is dead; long live the King. :-p

  4. Phil

    Mrs. Mecomber:

    Ron Paul is the only Republican that can look himself in the mirror in the morning and not feel an overwhelming shame and revulsion.

    Other than ending the war, I probably do not agree with him on anything, but he’s the only R. I respect. Alas, we live in a time when intellectual honesty is not valued at the ballot box.

    I hope he stays in and kicks up a fuss at the convention.

  5. Robinia

    Well, when I used to be able to be an election inspector (because I had a crew that could keep working while I took the day off), I always made sure that I thanked each voter. Somebody should. It is sometimes a real effort, as you point out. So, allow me to thank you for weighing in on our democracy and its choices– we need more thoughtful and intelligent voters like you!

  6. Patrick

    This was one primary in quite some time that I actually looked forward to voting. My choice of who I was going to vote for didn’t happen though until I actually got in the voting booth which in my opinion is a good thing because I think both Clinton and Obama will make for a good candidate and also a good leader. I’ve kept up with probably 90% of the debates being a political junkie that I am when it comes to national politics and I honestly believe that there is a real chance for change with all of the candidates including John McCain whom I don’t agree with some of his policy but I also don’t believe he is as conservative and as far right as we’ve had to decide on in the past.

    I actually would have preferred to have been able to vote in the Republican primary just to cast a vote against Mitt Romney for the fact that he was the only one that really scared me. It turned out OK though with him dropping out of the race or as they call it now “Suspending their campaign”.

    Huckabee played a big part in Romney’s departure and most likely he will be the next one out after the next primary or two. I’m just glad that he stayed in long enough to make sure Romney couldn’t pull it off.

    I ended up voting for Hillary in the end for the fact that she does have experience and the fact that she is a NEW YORK senator which could benefit NY in the long run. Of course with her being a Washington insider made the vote a little harder but that’s the way I ended up going.

    One thing that does kind of bother me about the democratic primary’s is that instead of the democrats bringing the people together right now it is actually being divided with blacks voting for Obama and I believe more women voting for Clinton. Neither of the candidates fault but just something that really bothers me and tells me as a country we still have a long ways to go when it comes down to race and gender. All just an opinion of course but I will say that I am optimistic as to what direction our country will go once President Bush is out of office no matter who the next president is if it’s between the 3 most likely candidates running right now.

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