:date: 2021-11-02 15:03 :tags:
If there's one thing Americans hate, its when loathsome beady-eyed dirty foreigners, jabbering away in their native language, tell them how to run their country. Well, today I'm going to do it anyway!
Mostly because despite living in the USA for almost 50 years, today was the first time I was legally allowed to directly participate in its "democracy". I won't go into the insane clusterfuck of how I ended my disenfranchisement, an ordeal greatly exacerbated by The Plague, and, incredibly, still ongoing with respect to minor details not involving voting rights.
Now that I am permitted to give a shit, I find the details of the process very interesting. The first thing that struck me is how moronic the people are who believe that government can't do anything right. Sure, it's as easy to find flagrant examples of government stupidity as it is to find some American guy shooting random people. But if you actually participate you realize that by saying that "all government is bad", you are saying that you yourself and all your neighbors are morons. No doubt many of your neighbors are morons, but to condemn the whole government is pretty damning to the people responsible for it, i.e. The People. And whom from among that moronic lot would these ever-critics prefer to be our autocratic dear leader, finally managing affairs with clarity and competence? My strong suspicion is that these simpletons who think so poorly of government writ large are not themselves participating with the kind of assiduousness that would give them a proper perspective.
The next thing to consider is how important these off-year elections can be. In NY they are currently voting on lowering the voting age from 18 years and 10 days to 18 years. Does that make sense? Yes. I think that does make sense. But what if young people don't typically support your views? Wouldn't it be statistically "better" to disenfranchise some of them? Well, that's how some people apparently think about these matters. (The correct answer is "no" by the way.) You might not think that detail is so profoundly important in the grand scheme of things. However the amendment that removes highly problematic impediments to absentee voting is. NY is a big and serious state. If they join California in allowing people to not have to take off work to inconveniently vote on election day at a polling place, other states may follow along. Before you know it, we may start to have a real democracy that includes working people who don't have the luxury to take a chunk of time off on Tuesdays during working hours, or old people who have a hard time getting to a polling place and waiting in line. The reason this amendment is so important isn't because of this year's county comptroller seat or whatever. This year's decision about absentee voting could easily have a dramatic effect on more publicized elections to come. Oh, and there's a fucking Plague.
Now I'm a novice voter to be sure, but I feel like I've had an insight that might be useful. I could easily be overlooking something, and if so, please email me and let me know! Let's do this with hypotheticals: imagine you have a country with basically two parties. If the parties are M and N, I personally am an X. Think alphabetically. Are you following? Both M and N disgust me personally. Sure I'll vote for N down the line against Ms but it sure would be nice to see a Q, S, or U, etc. That's unlikely to happen but what I really do not want to see is an F or even an H or a J. This is actually the second time I participated in the election process because I actually voted back in the primary. This is a very, very weird system, and it is a bad system. Sorry, American comrades. It is seriously flawed. What this primary system encouraged me to do was vote for a Q from among the Q, P, and three Ns on offer. I did not do this.
I did not do this because I did not register as an N. I am a registered M. Yes, it is embarrassing when I imagine the poll worker looking at my voter registration card, however, as far as I can tell, it is the right thing to do. Here's why. Imagine that the M party has an official platform of insulting immigrants' hats. Some of the more extreme factions, the K party, want mandatory SWAT team assaults that smash down all immigrants' front doors and set fire to their hats. I could have registered as an N, the party that wants to ignore immigrants, and voted for the P faction that wants to ban throwing most types of rocks at immigrants. But as someone sympathetic to immigrants (i.e. an American with "traditional values"), wouldn't my better move be to direct my only limited influence to checking extreme anti-immigrant sentiment?
The problem is actually more serious in that these primaries pit M's against other M's and the only people who notice are themselves M's. It is little wonder that in this contest the candidates will strive to out M the other guy — I'll see your anti-immigrant raving and raise the stakes with a toothbrush moustache! The basic idea is that I don't actually care about the subtle differences between the anodyne candidates slightly closer to my perspective. What I really want to ensure is that if my preferred candidates are ultimately not popular, the alternative isn't deeply horrific and embarrassing to me.
A nice property of this strategic approach is that rather than drive a wedge between people, it encourages some oversight on the looniest of factions. Rather than trying to become as rabidly polarizing as the opposition, it would be better to reach across the aisle and limit the polarizing tendency in the first place. The worst case situation here is if all M's register as N's and vice versa. If that happened, you'd soon see orthodox inflammatory issues sensibly attenuated. It might then be possible to do some proper sensible debugging on the important codebase we call government. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.