Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t …
There are many reasons I like to vote. The most obvious being that voting is the greatest freedom one enjoys as an American. But it can also be quite amusing as well.
Take for instance the gauntlet one must traverse in order to even get to the poll. It is like the scene in Airplane! when Captain Kramer— played by Robert Stack—is walking through the airport being accosted by folks who want to give him a flower; solicit for Reverend Moon; help Jerry’s Kids; avoid nuclear power; read about Jehovah’s witnesses or pontificate about Jews for Jesus. It can get crazy. People working for specific candidates see this as their last chance to ingrain their candidate’s name in the mind of the voter, and they will holler that name at you up until you cross that magic line where electioneering is prohibited.
But it’s not over yet. Then you have to get past the children. Yes, the children. The children aren’t pushing a candidate, but they are pushing. They are pushing treats. They want your dollar to help raise money for their various and numerous extracurricular activities, and they will use any trick they can to get you to show them the money.
“Doughnuts! Don’t forget to buy some doughnuts to take to your office tomorrow! Mmmmmmm gooooood!”
“You sure look thirsty, mister! Would you like to buy a cold drink before you vote?!”
If you survive the electioneers and the children then you get to vote. And more importantly, you get to watch other people vote. Or at least try.
I witnessed at least one clueless person who insisted that the voting machine she used was broken because it didn’t display candidates for governor for her. When the helpful volunteer tried to explain the concept of a closed primary and how the touch-screen system doesn’t display candidates for whom one is not eligible to vote, this woman’s eyes glazed over until she eventually got mad and stormed out—without voting.
While it is unfortunate that this woman didn’t know which type of primary is used in Maryland, it is also regrettable that she should need to know. Primaries should be open. Closed primaries are just another tool of the two major parties to control elections and who can be elected. Combine this with closed debates and one can easily understand why more and more Americans consider themselves independents. Trouble is that as independents they actually have less influence on the process because of the stranglehold the Democrats and Republicans have on the system. A Catch-22 if I ever saw one.
Hmmmm. Maybe voting isn’t the greatest freedom Americans enjoy after all.