Thursday, March 06, 2008

Principled Apathy: I have pretty much decided not to vote. I figure it like this. People should vote when they have a clear sincere belief that a certain candidate will be better for the country than the others. Although this may surprise you, I do occasionally have an opinion or two, but if there is one big thing I have learned in life, it is that I am wrong a lot. I suspect I am not wrong much more often than anyone else but, if I can be allowed a moment of pure ego, I think I do a better job of admitting it and accepting it than most. When faced with an outcome other than what they expected, human nature is to simply spin the results to show that they weren't wrong after all (make excuses), or maybe they'll say that everybody was equally wrong (mitigate the damage), or, most commonly, not even consciously acknowledge the connection between their formerly fervently held opinion and an outcome that was just the opposite (avoidance). They will have already moved on to their next unshakable belief.

Not me. I am wrong a lot. I can turn my way-too-numerous years of experience, graduate level education, and reasonably high IQ to an issue, arrive at a conclusion that seems blindingly obvious and unimpeachable -- then turn out to be stupendously wrong. As the various candidates drench me in their inane drivel, I occasionally hear something from one of them that makes sense and I think that's a good reason to cast a vote in a certain direction. But then, with the full knowledge that my opinion is as likely to wrong as right, I reflexively justify the counter-opinion and become suspicious of my own motives for thinking that way. As result, I end up figuring it's a dice roll whether one or the other will work out better for the country, and ergo, my vote will add nothing of value.

As I pointed out last month, our government is so entrenched and stable that we could probably pick a president at random from the phone book and suffer little more than mild annoyance. So, really, what good would I be doing by voting? Of course the same can be said for everyone. Why, then, would anybody vote? The answer is that you should vote if you sincerely see one of these clowns as being significantly better for the country. A tiny fraction of you may be right, but the vast majority of you will just be voting along the lines of your preconceived prejudices -- more often than not, we hold the opinions that justify our biases, and fool ourselves that they are the result of reason. At least you will feel good about yourselves and besides, someone has to pick a president; it might as well be you. I'll save my energy for other more pleasurable things.

Put it all together and it makes a decent case for apathy. But if I were to vote, I would vote against Obama. Can't stand the guy. Can't stand his Bob-the-Builder, "Yes we can!" inanity. Nobody who has slogged through middle management in corporate American has avoided a session with some moronic motivational speaker who spews out rah-rah blather like "Yes I can!" or "Make it happen!" or "Seize the Day!" The higher-ups consider arranging those kind of sessions "leadership" and slap each other on their enlightened backs. Half the HR department gets to check off "Improve Workforce Engagement Level" on their annual goals list. Meanwhile, everyone who has to sit through it is that much closer to buying an Uzi. Now CNN gets to pummel us with that tripe thanks to Obama.

What about Hope? We don't need no stinkin' Hope! Are people so infantile, so helpless, that they need someone to come along and with a wave of his blessed hand, anoint them with Hope? If it is the case that the majority of the most prosperous and pampered people in the world, when confronted with the complexities and challenges of life, can do no better than flop back on the couch and cry out for someone to give them Hope, then Oprah has her final victory.

Still, wouldn't even vote against Obama. My Mom (who is a saint, by the way) is a big Obama fan, and what kind of son would cancel out his own Mother's vote? So that's really why I'm not voting. 'Cause of my Mom.