To vote or not to vote, that is the ques­tion this year

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

I’m hav­ing the hard­est time get­ting be­hind a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date this year, so much that it seems point­less to go to the polls this Tues­day. I’ll just feel like an id­iot stand­ing there, gnaw­ing my fin­ger­nails and scratch­ing my head as I hold up the line for those who know what they’re do­ing.

Friends keep e-mail­ing me links to Web­sites that sup­port their fa­vorite can­di­dates. I wish I could catch their en­thu­si­asm as I have in elec­tions past, but this year I find my­self stub­bornly im­mune to it.

Seek­ing clar­ity, I took a few on­line tests that promised to re­veal my ideal can­di­date. That made things just about as clear as mud. One test asked me to agree or dis­agree with state­ments such as, “There is now a wor­ry­ing fu­sion of in­for­ma­tion and en­ter­tain­ment.” Well, I keep hop­ing that this col­umn might be a pos­i­tive fu­sion of in­for­ma­tion and en­ter­tain­ment, so I dis­agreed with that state­ment — I think.

“When you are trou­bled, it’s bet­ter not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheer­ful things.” Can some­one please tell me what the heck that has to do with how I cast my vote? Most con­fus­ing of all, “The en­emy of my en­emy is my friend.” Maybe I needed more caf­feine or a nap or some­thing, but it took me a good five min­utes to fig­ure that one out.

Too many of the mul­ti­ple-choice op­tions on an­other test seemed per­fectly rea­son­able, which might ex­plain why it didn’t match me with the can­di­date I as­sumed it would.

So do I choose one big is­sue and vote Tues­day for whoever most closely matches my ideas on that topic? Be­cause it is clearly im­pos­si­ble to find one per­son who matches my view­point across the board.

And I’m find­ing that my per­spec­tive can sway, de­pend­ing upon the cir­cum­stances. I think I feel one way about an is­sue, but then I look at the in­di­vid­u­als who would be im­pacted by changes in leg­is­la­tion, and my com­pas­sion for them changes my opin­ion.

So I find my­self at a place where I can hon­estly say, for the first time ever, I don’t want to vote for any­one. Call me weary, but I’m los­ing my faith that any one per­son can truly make things sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter, any­way.

I’ve held a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent jobs that re­quired me to in­ter­act with politi­cians on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. I can count on one hand the peo­ple that I had good in­ter­ac­tions with, that I felt were sin­cere in their de­sire to help make the world a bet­ter place. It’s the larger group of sur­pris­ingly un­pleas­ant politi­cians whose be­hav­ior slowly jaded my opin­ion of gov­ern­ment.

If I could speak to all can­di­dates to­day, I would beg for sin­cer­ity. Make me be­lieve that you hon­estly care about the is­sues you ver­bally sup­port. Do some­thing to prove that you have your con­stituents’ best in­ter­ests at heart; that you don’t just see your elec­tion as some­thing good on your cur­ricu­lum vi­tae or an achieve­ment to make your daddy proud. Make me want to go to the polls and get be­hind you. Be nice. Be real.

But is “be­ing real” a plau­si­ble re­quest in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment? It feels as fruit­less as de­mand­ing that a fish climb a tree.

Peo­ple used to want their chil­dren to grow up to be­come presi- dent. Some still do, I sup­pose. My folks have al­ways said that my son Zach would make a great politi­cian.

He’s good at bar­gain­ing and bar­ter­ing to get what he wants, some­thing he’s done since he learned how to talk. If you don’t agree with his view­point, he has a thou­sand ar­gu­ments pre­pared and will work hard to sway you.

But I look at the politi­cians I’ve known, the back­stab­bing com­mer­cials, the im­mense pres­sure on can­di­dates, and I don’t want that for my son. I don’t want it at all.

I feel a moral obli­ga­tion to vote. This is the only sys­tem we have, and no mat­ter how cor­rupt it may be, I be­lieve that all cit­i­zens are re­spon­si­ble for do­ing their demo­cratic duty. But this Amer­i­can needs to wait un­til the field of can­di­dates has been weeded a bit be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

Kari Apted

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