How Much Does Voting Matter (In Alabama)?

Posted: November 8, 2014 in Politics
Tags: , ,
I think I'm only whispering.

I think I’m only whispering.

So last weekend I did research so that I could fulfill my duty as a citizen and vote this past Tuesday.   Then I watched the results roll in, and never have I felt more like I had completely wasted my time.  Not that this was exactly a new development, but it really hit me pretty heavily that I was spending a lot of time trying to make intelligent choices, when I already knew how EACH and EVERY race was going to go.   The Hill had just declared Alabama the most Republican state in the country, so it doesn’t take a political science degree to know how things were going to turn out (hint: new state slogan, Alabama, now with even more Republicans than ever!).

Here are things that are really weighing on me:

This state is now damn red….but we’ve also gerrymandered everything, you know, just in case:

Statewide elections are such a waste in Alabama, when it comes to elected positions, the Republican is going to win and it’s not going to be close.  It’s going to be something like 60-65% to 35-40% every race, every time.   (That’s if the Democrats bother to even run anyone, Senator Jeff Sessions got a free pass.)  When it comes to amendments, just think ‘what would the tea party do?’ and you can probably predict with a high degree of accuracy whether it will pass or not (the only close statewide level vote was an Amendment dealing with funding the repair of the state’s National Guard Armories, only because these groups couldn’t decide if spending more money (bad) trumps the military (good)).  But even for local representatives, districts are so badly gerrymandered that those aren’t close either.  For U.S. House, I live in a Republican district…so the R won 76-24%.  For Alabama State House, I live in a Democratic district, so the D won 77-23%.  It’s hard to get excited about going to the booth when these are the kind of margins that are resulting.

And why are we voting for so many damn things anyway?:

Do we really need to vote for county tax assessor?  What about the tax collector?  State auditor?  Agricultural commissioner?  Every freakin’ judge in the state?  I am simply not an informed voter when it comes to these things, and I have to wonder how many others are?  (When it comes to judges, it does also concern me about how much money is pouring into these races, including $50 million into Alabama’s Supreme Court races alone, much from outside the state.  These folks think they are buying something, I can assure you!)

Even if I do impact the result of an election, do I actually impact policy?:

A study was performed measuring the influence of various entities on national policy from 1981-2002.  Their conclusion was that the average U.S. citizen appeared to have a non-statistically significant impact on policy.  Instead, the wealthy and monied business interests is what swayed the direction of the country.  Now I think a lot of suspected that the wealthy had a disproportionate impact on policy.  But I think more and more it seems like that they have ALL the impact on policy, regardless of which way an election may swing.

Obama’s hope and change didn’t happen:

Obama’s rhetoric was so infectious.  It just felt so right, and it was easy to get swept up into the idea that things were really going to be different this time.  But now six years in, I would challenge anyone to really come up with anything that’s truly different about how things operate in Washington.  If anything, it’s even worse.  (Yes, the Republicans with their ‘we fight Obama on everything’ strategy have a role in this, too.  A very large role in fact.  But what about the supposed new transparency that this White House was supposed to have?  It is really any more transparent?  What about being the anti-Bush in regards to foreign policy?  Are our positions really that different?)  When you get a lot of folks to the polls on the whole ‘hope and change’ thing and it then doesn’t happen, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s going to become more difficult going forward to get people to buy ‘no, this time it’s for realz!’.  Obama couldn’t change things, and I really don’t see anyone else that even appears to be a transformative leader on the horizon.

Anyway, it’s just getting harder and harder to justify dragging myself to the polls.


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