I Won’t Vote And You Can’t Make Me

ballot-160569_1280You know what the trouble with democracy is?

The trouble with democracy is that everyone gets a vote, even if they are idiots. Of course, the right to vote is what our country is built on, and who should get to decide who the idiots are anyway, right?

Wrong. I’m here to tell you, I get to decide, at least in one particular case. And what I have decided is: me. I am the idiot. And this is why I do not vote.

To my friends and acquaintances who might be thinking, wow, I didn’t realize she was that stupid, or, my God, she doesn’t even deserve to live in our proud nation! I say, think again. Because though I’ve never given much thought to politics, I have given quite a bit of thought to my reasons for not voting. Reasons which I can assure you are very good and sound and if you are really honest with yourself, you might realize that one or more of them apply to you, too. You might even decide to respectfully remove yourself from the ballot box this November, and if you do, know that I am right here cheering you on.

I am pretty sure that I have never voted in a presidential election, and I’ve been eligible since May of 1989. I say “I am pretty sure” because the fact is I may have voted for Bill Clinton the first time he ran, because I was in college at the time and still believed in things like “your vote makes a difference.” Also because Bill Clinton seemed like a big party just waiting to happen, and let’s face it, he was, but this was a killer instinct on my part never seen before or since. And so these days, I don’t vote in the same way that I don’t do heroin: with a firm resolution and a happy heart.

As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of citizens in our country when it comes to voting:

The Educated Voters are at the top of the food chain, so to speak. They believe strongly in the notion that voting is a civic duty and they take it pretty damn seriously. They read, they follow, they learn. They find out everything they can about candidates at the local, state, and federal levels, and when Election Day comes they cast an informed vote. These are the superstars of democracy. Which sounds sarcastic but I promise is not.

The Uneducated Voter would probably not agree that he or she is uneducated. Uneducated voters sometimes hang their choice of candidate on a single issue, or even no issue at all. I know someone who voted for Barack Obama because he smoked. Nothing against our current president, but cigarette usage should not be a deciding factor in whether you get the job or not. Some vote for a particular party faithfully, regardless of issues. Others seek out information that bolsters their first instinct, and disregard everything else. In any case, these are the voters that can potentially do more harm than good. But vote they do! And their vote counts just as much as yours. Fabulous, am I right?

Finally, there is my group – the Uneducated Non-Voter. We are largely reviled for our apparent apathy and irresponsibility. We say, I don’t know enough to vote, and the response is, it’s your DUTY to know enough to vote! Educate yourself! It’s your job as an American citizen! And this is where I get very tired.

Because, no. It is not my duty to vote. It is my right, and it’s equally my right to NOT.

Here is the thing: even if I learned everything I could about the current election – or any election – I’d still be pretty sure that I didn’t know enough. Say I knew everything I could possibly find out about both our presidential candidates, and say that equaled roughly 80,000 things. I believe, in my overly complicated mind, that there would still be at least 100,000 things I didn’t know. To me that just seems very freaking pointless. Also, I have neither the available capacity nor the desire to have those 80,000 things in my head, now or ever. I think those 80,000 things would make me a very miserable person.

Speaking of which.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that elections do not necessarily bring out the best in us? I have seen more hateful words – more hate, period – thrown around in relation to this election than in any other circumstance that I can recall in my entire life. People hate Trump. People hate Hillary. People hate other people for hating the wrong candidate. Friends are no longer friends and acquaintances are now bitter enemies. You can blame the candidates themselves, for being bad enough to inspire this level of mayhem. But I don’t buy it. We are all in charge, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US IS IN CHARGE, of not throwing hate around like hand grenades. But we’re doing it. In record numbers.

Thank you, and I mean this, to all of you who care enough to learn and analyze and choose the course that you believe is best. You are admirable and have my utmost respect.

Unless, of course, your learning and analyzing and choosing involves the spreading of hate, in which case, I retract my thank you.

Either way, much like I do with heroin – I respectfully decline to participate.

My Children: Which One Might Become a Serial Killer?

jail-983153_1280You try not to think it, you really do, but in today’s culture it’s difficult.  I mean the parent-blaming is everywhere.  So when serial killers and even regular murderers show up on the news or on “Criminal Minds” or wherever, you start thinking.  For the love of God and all that is holy, could this one day be my kid?

The trick is in figuring out which one it might be, so that you can make the appropriate adjustments.  Like if it’s child #3 versus #1 or #2, you might want to become stricter with that child.  Or maybe more lenient.  You may need to give that child more individual attention, or perhaps you’ve been giving that child too much attention all along.  You may realize you should switch to a helicopter parenting technique, or no, wait, maybe the kid actually needs more responsibility. Free-range it is.  Maybe you should yell less and show more empathy.  Wait, the newspaper says you should quit being such a pushover.

Oh, Good Lord.  What is a parent to do?

I don’t know, but I’m guessing the first good step is to figure out which one is the serial killer.  With that in mind I have been observing my own kids from day one, looking for the signs.  This post is the very scientific summary of my conclusions to date.

On the surface, Joey, age 8, might be the obvious suspect.  Back in his infancy, the instant he got control of his arms, he used them to push my face away from him in a way that said, “I do not enjoy affectionate human contact.”  That was mildly alarming, but my mother has since told me I was a similar type of baby and I have yet to murder anyone, even my husband, who pretty much asks for it on at least a bi-weekly basis.

And then there is Jimmy, age 7, who was a very smiley and loving baby, but even then you kind of had to wonder.  At least Joey shows his true colors, I thought at the time.  What’s with this smiley lovey crap?  Who exactly is he trying to fool?

Could all that smiling be leading here???
Could all that smiling be leading here???

Interestingly enough, as they’ve grown, Jimmy has continued his smiley lovey persona, while Joey is a bit more on the mean side.  I was catching baseball with them the other day and Joey was taking an inordinate amount of pleasure in any missed catch on the part of his brother.  “You dropped it again!” he’d say.  “That’s six times!  I’ve only missed twice!”  As for Jimmy, his comments back to Joey were along the lines of, “Good catch!”  Or, “Nice throw, Joey!”

Hmmm, I thought.  Are these the signs?  Will Joey’s competitive and not-so-supportive nature one day resolve into a murderous rampage?  Or, will Jimmy’s more outwardly pleasant personality eventually implode?  Oh God, how do I fix this?  What do I do differently?  HOW DO I MAKE THEM PERFECT?

So far, I’ve spoken about my children as if Joey shows zero love and Jimmy shows nothing but.  Obviously it is never that simple.  For example, I once had several facial moles removed and thus came home with several sets of stitches in my face as well as some surprisingly unattractive swelling.  It was Joey who had the preferred reaction.  He took one look at me, broke down in tears and said, “Mommy!  How could they do that to you?”  Jimmy, on the other hand, appraised my disfigurement with a more detached and clinical eye.  His question was more along the lines of, “How long are you going to look like that?”  He has also said things such as, “Mommy, you’re not fat.  You’re just, like, maximum chubby.”  If that doesn’t say future murderer, quite frankly I don’t know what does.

Perhaps I should encourage a nice non-violent life of computer crime.
Perhaps I should encourage a nice non-violent life of cyber crime.

I don’t know.  It’s very stressful even writing about this, because the truth is, I don’t ever want to find myself in the position of saying, “Yep, I knew it.”  And then writing letters to judges explaining about my kids’ favorite snacks and so forth.  I mean, what judge is going to care that Joey eats his Chips Ahoy and milk with a spoon, while Jimmy never, ever dips his cookies?  Well, there’s one, but surely he’ll be impleached by then. Disbarred. Whatever they call it.  Plus, my letter would go viral and then the people who weren’t already blaming me would see clearly how it was ALL MY FAULT.

I guess the bottom line is, ferretting out a serial killer from the crowd of elementary school crooks is more challenging than it may seem.  All I can do is to remain forever vigilant.  And more importantly, keep up with all the internet parenting advice. Because there’s no sense trusting my own instincts when there are so many wiser ones out there.