The following was written from a prompt from the Forest Grove Writer’s Workshop. The assignment was to write about your feelings on the election.
“I’m not going to vote for Shawn Smith or Robert Taylor. They both suck.”
The pile of slick election ads, voter’s pamphlets, and ballots before us on the table, and time running out, I didn’t know what to make of my husband’s response to the position of state representative.
“I’m sick of them both.”
I stared at the tall, slender man I adore sitting across the littered table. A brilliant and over-educated, and thoughtful, engineer, his bearded face did not resemble the patient, tolerant expression I’d grown to love over the years. He resembled a red-faced lunatic at the moment.
“Look at all these. For Smith, against Taylor. For Taylor, against Smith. Taylor is a good guy. Taylor is a bad guy. Smith is a beast. Smith is a saint. I’m sick of all of these.”
He shoved the colorful assortment of glossy artificially created candid moments at me.
He was right. Sheet after sheet. Brochures, flyers, all touting the goodness of one and the evilness of the other. One or two about other candidates, but mostly these two guys battling it out on our dining table.
I thought of the money spent on all the printing, photography, and mailings and thought about how much that would feel the hungry, help put a student through school, or repair a road or two. I thought about how it also made money for graphic artists, photographers, printers, postal workers…but mostly I thought about how much the campaign junk mail infuriated my calm husband.
Is this the way to vote? Not on the merits of someone’s abilities, expertise, and experience but on the quantity of junk mail they generated? Did the candidates approve every one of these, or were these all handled by their campaign managers. Are we actually voting on the quality of campaign managers ability to reach us, or on the validity of the candidate.
When I pause to consider what irritates me most about the never-ending political campaign in the United States, the event that begins the day after the election and continues until the day of, four years later, in spite of the candidates twisting their own words and promises, and the media distorting the truths and the fictions even more, the one thing that irriates me the most about elections is the phone calls.
The calls happen when I’m least ready to race to the phone, dripping wet from the shower, in the middle of cooking, eating, watching a movie, on my other phone with a client, sleeping in after a very late night working…yet, I race to the phone with thoughts of emergencies, family problems, and panic in my heart.
When I hear the recordings or the human beings trying to express enthusiasm for one more call to preach on behave of their wunderkind or issue, I want to scream at them, “I will now NOT votes for your candidate because you called me! I’m on the do not call list!”
I know that the Do Not Call List doesn’t apply to electoral campaigns, and it certainly doesn’t apply to robot-callers and scammers, but I can dream, just as I can dream of a day when my vote might really count.
Today, how do you really make a decision about who to vote for when you really don’t know them? How do you get to know and trust them. Without the media, how would we know. We have to trust the media. As one of the media, I don’t think that’s such a good idea as sometimes I barely trust myself.
Without more information, my husband chose to not vote for either of them. A part of me appreciates that, so I join him, living out the true definition of democracy.