It is compulsory to vote in Australia. The outcome of an election between two, essentially similar parties has very little impact on my own life, so I try to vote in a way that might benefit people who have not had the colossal leg-up that I’ve had in life. I believe this makes me a socialist? Put me on continuum where you choose, tell me where to pay my taxes and I’ll go along with it. Hopefully, someone who needs it will be a little better off. If you could also support gay rights (particularly marriage), asylum seekers, public healthcare and a few other things, well I’d be ecstatic. Sadly, on these really big issues, our government and opposition spend a lot of time and money arguing two sides of the same coin. Progress is slow. Still, it is, or it has been, progress, and I hope it continues.
This post is not about Australia.
As conscientiously as I may try to vote here, it has always distressed me that I have no say what goes on in US politics. More distressing is that the non-compulsory voting seems to mean that people who could have a say seem to sway in and out of indifference. I have been been increasingly distressed in the last few months at the seemingly unstoppable rise of Mitt Romney and the Republicans. What exactly is going on in the Obama camp? Why is it so darn quiet over there? Ok, he hasn’t been universally popular in his first term, but wasn’t that why you elected him? To shake things up? The guy has made some unpopular decisions, but then again, unpopular, radical, necessary decisions were pretty much the platform of the Hope campaign. Did you expect universal popularity? Or that he’d be able to fulfill every campaign promise? Have you ever expected that from a professional politician?
Strangely, the answers I have been looking for popped up in a McSweeney’s piece that I read this morning. Perhaps the issue isn’t so much that Obama supporters have become detractors, they’ve just crawled back into their apathetic hole, forgetting to exercise their extremely valuable democratic rights. It cannot be that the enormous body of anti-conservatives has disappeared in the course of one presidential term… Where did you go? Come back!
Without further ado…
The excellent McSweeney’s piece, Introducing 90 Days, 90 Reasons, in which McSweeney’s wakes up to the very real risks of punishing Obama, namely that “an arch conservative (will) rule the most powerful nation on earth”.
Did I mention the McSweeney’s article links to a fantastic initiative: 90 Days, 90 Reasons. This site provides a daily essay by notable Americans in support of the Obama campaign. So far, there are essays available by Ben Gibbard, Roger Ebert, George Saunders and Adam Werbach. Looks like we are in for some great reading.