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November 1, 2012

Voter ennui

When I came back to America mid-2007, within months I was smack in the middle of a presidential election. It started with primaries, building to a fever pitch in November. I had been away for three elections, it had been a strange 12 years, and I was raring to be involved. This blog on being an expat got temporarily hijacked as I wrote about watching and participating in the process after so long. This year? Not a peep. And I’ve decided it’s ennui.

There’s a lot said in the country about voter apathy. I am not apathetic. I do care; I care far too much, and as a result I am experiencing “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety.”  And not satiety in a good way. It’s the surfeit of politicking that has done me in.

America has become so polarized, so mean-spirited, that there are very few people I care to discuss politics with. Make that dare to. Vitriol, hate, venom and absolutes are the order of the day. It’s disgusting.

Sometimes I agree with ideas on both sides. Sometimes I want to say, “I agree, but…” but there is never time to finish the thought. As soon as I start “I agree” the fireworks start.

A lot of the talk is disrespectful and downright childish. So many times I want to say, “what are you? Eight?”  I don’t, but I’m thinking it.  So instead, I am just quiet.

I’ve become completely convinced that the system needs a complete overhaul. A Constitutional Amendment level overhaul. The days of the two-party system have got to end.  There are over 300 million people in this country and around 220 million of them are eligible to vote.  Two parties–two people–representing that many people is just impossible.  Oh, sure, there are small parties. Good old Wikipedia lists five major parties: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Constitution.  It also lists 33 minor parties.  So that’s 38 parties in the US, and for 220 million, that’s better.  But we all know there are only two viable parties.  And if I were to cast my presidential vote for even one of the “major” party candidates who was not Obama or Romney, I’d be “wasting” my vote.

If I even said the names Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or Virgil Goode, who would recognize them? (I had to google for Goode’s name!)  I’ve explored Johnson and Stein’s candidacies, but I’ve realized, I need to play it safe.  As a New Yorker, I’m probably “okay” voting my conscience but I probably won’t.  I’m still up in the air about it.  I’ll see how I feel Tuesday.

Oh, I will vote. I always vote. It was drummed into my head as a child that we vote.  And I’m paying attention.  I just don’t want to talk about it, and I don’t want to hear about it, either.

But I am calling for an end of the two party system, an end to the antiquated Electoral College and more intellect and less emotion in American politics.  The first two can happen through Constitutional Amendments.  The last? An act of God, perhaps.



  1. I don’t think a constitutional amendment is necessary, legal, or effective. This is the sort of thing that has to change because we change, not something that can be legislated into existence. I think it is already changing. I suspect Gary Johnson is going to get a significant portion of the vote (by that I mean less than 5%, but still more than anyone expects). If he was actually let into the debates, I think he would be seriously competitive in this election (Stein, less so, but she would at least be shaking the foundations of the democratic party). All it will take is to break that media barrier – once the levee breaks, it’s over.

    In the meantime, I think more and more people are realizing that they shouldn’t vote for (read: actively support) evil, lesser or otherwise. Less and less people are falling for “wasted vote” syndrome. Granted, most still do, but I think my generation will see the two parties either collapse or drastically evolve for their own survival.

    At the very least, if there’s no one you actually believe in, I think it’s far more patriotic NOT to vote – if you support someone who doesn’t share your values, you’re telling that political party that it is acceptable to continue nominating this type of candidate.

    Comment by celluloiter — November 3, 2012 @ 5:36 pm |Reply

  2. But a constitutional amendment is required to do away with the Electoral College, and right now our government is set up to be a two-party system. There needs to be a viable place for third (or 10th) party candidates, and the US government, as set up by the Constitution, can’t accommodate that right now. Hence the need for legislation.

    Comment by maggiec — November 7, 2012 @ 5:18 pm |Reply

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