"No I Don't Vote, I Don't Vote at All..."
...was my surprise response to the petition solicitor outside of our city library today. I surprised him for a second, but I've stunned myself with this admission for a good couple hours now. It was the first time I had admitted this to a stranger out loud.
Let's back up to the beginning. I was coming out of the library with my 6 and 8 year old after returning our free pass to the city's art museum, which we used for a birthday trip the week prior. I love our library - its huge selection of books, its educational exhibits on American history and gemstones, its free children's programs and how-to-books, and just the very idea that it lends out fishing poles here along lake Erie! I wonder which vote put all this into motion...which laws mandate that the library be a free and open source to all in the community? Maybe it's a lack of laws that allow this to happen - go ahead, educate me here.
So exiting the library hand-in-hand with my daughters, I hear, "Hello! Do you vote here in Erie County?"
And without hesitation, I replied "No I don't...I don't vote at all."
After a second of trying to come up with a response, he brilliantly stammered, "you should."
And I just shook my head, "No, I shouldn't. Waste of time."
Now don't get me wrong - I'm 32. I've been 18 for a good 14 years now. And I've voted - in fact, I always have. I had always voted, but my candidate has never won.
Well, one time he won. I voted for him because he told us he would pull the troops out of Iraq. He put them in Afghanistan instead. Fool me once...
I had protested before my friends went to war in Iraq, but they were sent anyways. I had spoken out publicly against our country's pre-emptive battle plan, and the crowds had cheered, but it didn't stop our government from striking. Voting didn't change society. Protesting didn't save lives. Speaking didn't stop war.
I began to realize that these actions I was taking to promote a true change to better the lives of individuals - they didn't work. They didn't change anything.
Voting didn't change society. Voting didn't ensure I had a fair chance to make a living in our society the way I once thought it would. The economy lost so many jobs I couldn't find one in my field with a Bachelor's Degree to pay my $30k in college debt back. The college that graduated me wouldn't even grant me one interview over the years I applied for jobs they posted in which they qualified me! (No, not University of Phoenix - we're talking Penn State here...and I graduated with high honors.)
Protesting didn't save lives. The war in Iraq for which we did not vote has led to the murder of over 100,000 human beings. When I stood on the courthouse steps that March day in 2003 and pleaded "don't do this", the current death count was 0.
Speaking didn't stop war. I ended my rally speech with this, "if we really want to protect our troops, then keep them home." The crowd that day erupted in cheers. But it didn't matter. We were individuals, not business interests, and our voices were ignored.
So I casually dismissed library petition guy and told him voting was a waste of time. I'm sure I looked like a dirty slug and a terrible mother to him. But if I had taken my opportunity to speak here more seriously, here's what I would've said,
"Voting is evil. Nothing serves to divide us against each other like a two-party political system. If I come to your table and say I'm a democrat, do you feel happiness towards me? If I come to your table and say I'm republican, do you get angry with me? How are we supposed to unite to take back our country, to get out of this never ending game of debt and death and taxes against a government who protects the interests of banks and businesses over actual living beings, when we are forced to immediately judge each other on our political affiliations? This keeps us from ever meeting each other eye-to-eye as human beings who need nourishing food, clean water, suitable shelter, and little else to actually survive. When I come to your table, I see you as a human, same as me, who has toxins in his food, fluoride in his water, and is forbidden to build any structure at all without government approval. In order to provide an actual LIVING for ourselves, as in quality goods necessary for our survival, we have to quit pretending we're so different. And in order to keep my love for you as a human in tact, I'm leaving now."
And I'm pretty sure anything he would've said about voting preventing certain travesties and tragedies from happening could have been responded to with, "but they already have."
Democrat and Republican. Divide and conquer. We will never win this game, and so long as we're playing, we're losing. Wars are funded by big banks on BOTH sides. Our money is loaned by the Federal Reserve, a private corporation, to our government with interest, so by the time it reaches you and me it's already a debt note. Income taxes cost us 25% of our annual earnings, and $0 of that money goes to anything else other than paying back the interest owed to the bank that prints it for its use. We work 3 months out of each year just to pay bankers alone, and the rest of the year we work jobs we hate to buy food that's toxic. What if we just worked all year to grow the food instead?
What if instead we quit pretending that voting changes lives, or that it would ever do so for the betterment of actual individuals? What if we actually make the changes we want to see our politicians make - we get our own healthy food, we distill our own clean water, we build our own shelters, and we do what we can for each other as they do for us? You and me, we're on the same losing team. Let's take our ball and go home.
I have bread to bake and perch from the lake. Time to get busy livin'.