Electoral Malaise

I know I have said this before, but I’ll just go ahead and say it again: noth­ing deci­sive­ly good (or deci­sive, peri­od) can ever come out of the entrenched two-par­ty sys­tem the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal process has set­tled into, seem­ing­ly immov­ably. The best that can ever be hoped for as it cur­rent­ly oper­ates is this end­less, impo­tent game of pendulum-swinging.

I didn’t vote this year, for the first time since I obtained suf­frage in 1996. With the inter­na­tion­al exile, and no real per­ma­nent address back home, and no time or ener­gy to per­mit me to feel engaged or informed in the process, I didn’t even give it a sec­ond thought. The bot­tom line for me: if I am unable to vote mean­ing­ful­ly, then it is my duty not to vote irre­spon­si­bly, a duty which I grace­ful­ly ful­filled yesterday.

But that should not be tak­en as any indi­ca­tion of any par­tic­u­lar dis­re­gard for the process itself. I have at var­i­ous points in my life felt quite strong­ly that the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment was either mis­guid­ed from the very out­set, or even if mer­i­to­ri­ous as a utopi­an endeav­or had clear­ly run its course and been proven unten­able. My alter­na­tives, such as my ado­les­cent plans for a mil­i­tant theoc­ra­cy and my resul­tant admi­ra­tion of the Ital­ian Futur­ist and Fas­cist move­ments, now seem, in ret­ro­spect, pre­cise­ly the puerile pos­tur­ings of an atten­tion-starved youth with too much time on his hands. (This is, coin­ci­den­tal­ly, exact­ly how I read most of the pop­ulist cur­rent-day polit­i­cal dis­course of sup­posed-adults: I believe this state­ment goes far in explain­ing my dis­taste for engag­ing in that quag­mire at present.)

So here’s my grown-up ten-cents’ worth: the sys­tem is ter­mi­nal­ly bro­ken. That doesn’t mean we should give up on the whole thing, throw up our hands, and build self-suf­fi­cient rur­al com­pounds where we can await the inevitable social col­lapse (which was pret­ty much the milieu I grew up in, so don’t laugh). Rather, it means we need to change the sys­tem: not fix it, because it is real­ly not worth fix­ing in the cur­rent form, but to change it thor­ough­ly into some­thing that does work, and that we can all feel good about being a part of. Maybe even proud.


  1. I cer­tain­ly agree with your esti­ma­tion that the cur­rent polit­i­cal sys­tem is “ter­mi­nal­ly bro­ken” and to change it thor­ough­ly into some­thing that does work. How­ev­er, I am afraid that giv­en those entrust­ed with author­i­ty (regard­less of polit­i­cal per­sua­sion), lit­tle is going to hap­pen in the near future.

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