Like Hattie, I also woke up this morning with a political hangover ““ but mine was a little different than hers. I woke up feeling like I was bearing the weight of liberal apathy on my shoulders. True Confession time: I didn’t vote yesterday. I don’t really have an excuse other than simple disillusionment with the process. Usually I vote absentee in my home state, but I never received an absentee ballot and I never bothered to follow up or register in my current state. Both my home state and my current state reliably vote democrat and I just counted on everyone else to carry my vote, since it doesn’t feel like my vote counts.
Now I see that there was only 55% voter turnout in my home county. They haven’t called the race yet but it looks like the democratic candidate for governor will win by an extremely small margin, barely beating out the Republican whose interests lie with Big Business and who received a sizeable contribution from Nike founder Phil Knight. Meanwhile, in my current state of residence none of the elections were nearly that tight, but I still feel guilty. For instance, in Pennsylvania Pat Toomey is the new senator-elect after winning by a margin of less than 80,000 votes. 80,000! That’s nothing. If I lived in Pennsylvania I would have been one of the jackasses that didn’t vote, who would have voted democrat and now Pat Toomey, who stands for everything I am against, is in the Senate! That’s not insignificant, and I feel terrible. I feel like I am bearing the responsibility of everyone just like me who couldn’t be arsed to get their voting stuff together and get out there and do it.
There are several great websites that make it very easy to figure out what the platforms are of the people up for election. It would have taken the equivalent of one or two viewings of my favorite TV shows to read up enough to make an informed decision. Never again will I whine that I am just not politically savvy and that maybe I shouldn’t vote because I just vote democrat down the ticket without even informing myself on the issues. Yes, I am frustrated with politics. Yes, I do feel like politicians across the board don’t do enough to address the issues that I feel are most important. But that’s never going to change as long as I sit at home and ignore all political coverage because it makes me too sad. And yeah, maybe I’m a little disappointed with Barack Obama. I guess I was hoping for a little more of that change he promised, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I decided to write off this mid-term election as insignificant.
I spent yesterday ignoring the polls and returns and rolling my eyes at the sanctimonious statements from people who voted, chastising those of us who did not. Sometimes I feel so paralyzed with impotence that the whole government will be overrun with Tea Baggers and there’s nothing I can do about it, that I feel like I might as well just let it happen and not get worked up about it. I need to bring back a little of the me that existed in 2002. The me that was fired up and informed and who went to protests and made art about her anger. Because I still believe that outrage is better than apathy. So I make this promise now: Next election I’m getting pissed and next election, I’m voting.