Where does the good go

50 days

I live in the greatest country in the world.
I was born to immigrants and was raised by a single mother earning less than twenty thousand dollars a year. Yet, I was able to graduate from one of the best private schools in New York, have college and doctoral level degrees from the best universities in the world, and own property in New York City. In these days of “personal narratives,” I would throw mine into the ring of uniquely American stories. Believe you me, I’m not extraordinary. I’ve been called “the laziest person I know” by two different people in the last five days and I assure you, they know plenty of lazy people. But here in America, even the lazy can succeed beyond our wildest dreams…hmm..although, to be honest, my wildest dreams still involves a vast amount of wealth, an Oscar, a Nobel and household name recognition…in short, in my wildest dreams I am Al Gore. Oh, and I want that 2012 Olympic Gold medal in rowing or doubles badmitton. But definitely vast amounts of wealth. And an Oscar, but mostly because I have the cutest, funniest acceptance speech ever and how will America ever hear it, if I don’t win one?
Sorry, I digress – Karol got me thinking about the Secret, so all my inner wishes are just at the tip of my tongue right now.
But the very best part about America, beyond the opportunities and the education and our amazing television (oh yeah, I also want a television show, either about me, in which I star, or one that I have created and write) – it’s that in exchange for all of that, America asks absolutely nothing.
I mean, sure, if you kill someone or put a bomb in a building, America will throw your ass in jail and take all the happy happy joy joy away, but in terms of keeping it and just living here, America doesn’t ask for anything in return.
My country doesn’t force me to put on a uniform and take up arms in her defense. America does not ask me to pledge my loyalty, though I would do so happily and would volunteer to police the strict enforcement of such a pledge from my fellow Americans. With extreme prejudice.
America does not limit the number of children I can have or force me to use my talents to win gold medals.
America does not even ask that I respect her leaders or learn her history – again, all of which I generally try to do.
Heck, America, does not even require that you be American to let you enjoy all of these things. That is how awesome America is.
So, you’d think that when a country as great as mine is, that asks as little as mine does, puts the question of who will run our nation and direct our great country’s future before the people every two years that we, its citizens, would happily say “hey, no problem, America. It’s the least I can do,” and take our educated, fed, entertained, free bottoms down to our local polling places and pick a half dozen or so names on a ballot.
For goodness sakes, you’ve got to change the oil in your car more frequently than you choose the people who allocate the money to build the roads you drive on.
But no.
Instead, an alarming number of otherwise intelligent, active, interesting people, dismiss elections as if they are somebody else’s problem or mock the race for the highest office in our land and by extension the most important job in the world, as merely a contest for “class president.”
Now, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that I am a political nerd. I voted for Carter in 1980 when my mom took me into the voting booth with her and let me pull the lever (and yes, with the exception of 1996, I’ve been voting for the Presidential losers ever since.) I sat up nights to find out the results of the NYC mayor’s race, pounded the pavement in four different states, for four different candidates. Politics was my major and remains my hobby. I watched every day of both conventions on TV and proudly called the Obama/Biden ticket a week before it was official. I’m not even going to begin to tell you how many political blogs and cable shows I read and watch a day. Nobody needs to mimic anywhere near my level of obsession. But that anyone who everyday enjoys the freedom to publish whatever you want, to practice in a profession that you choose, to live in a nation where Tara Reid has not starved to death should feel nothing less than the full weight of gratitude enough to pick up a newspaper or a coin and choose a candidate for President and then go vote.
To think that there are teenagers, right now, who have given up sleeping in a warm bed on American soil with our 300 channels and indoor plumbing to go fight our country’s enemies in Afghanistan. There are old, possibly dead, millionaires still going to work every day in the Senate. This is how they serve our great nation. How will you?
I loved the Craig Ferguson monologue last week where he said:

“If you don’t vote, you’re a moron,” Ferguson said. “Not voting is just being stupid. Voting is not sexy. Voting is not hip. It is not fashionable. It is not a movie. It is not a videogame. … Frankly, voting is a pain in the ass. But here is a word: Look it up, it’s your duty to vote!
“The foundation in this democracy is based on free people making free choices. So young people, if you can’t take your hand out of your bag of Cheetos long enough to fill out a form, then you can’t complain when we wind up with President Sanjaya.”

Except, and this is a forgivable error Craig, you haven’t been American as long as I have, but voting is not our duty and even if you don’t vote, you can still complain. This is America. We’re awesome that way. But I would hope that seeing the passion of a new American and this old one, will inspire our fellow citizens to do this one thing every couple of years, even though America doesn’t even ask us to.

19 Responses to “50 days”

  1. Karol Says:

    Where’s my link on the one of two people to call you the laziest person they know?

  2. Eric Says:

    Where’s my link on the one of two people to call you the laziest person they know?

    I think everyone just kind of knew that already.

    Here’s the problem with voting: It doesn’t seem to have much effect on what actually happens. In California we have the initiative process. We have legislators. We have a governor. See, there’s lots of opportunities to vote.

    But the legislators are all in rock-solid safe seats. So, while you can traipse down to the polls and pull the lever for your guy, everyone already knows with absolute certainty who’s gonna win. In lots of districts the opposition party doesn’t even bother to field a candidate, or if they do he’s like your crazy uncle everyone in the family pretends not to know. And he can’t raise enough money for bus fare since everyone knows he’s gonna lose.

    Our governor is virtually powerless. When Ahnold got elected he was wildly popular, but every one of his goals bogged down in the swamp of bureaucratic inertia. I suppose if we have a tsunami or something he may be useful, but really, he’s just wasting gas driving the hummer to work. He would get far more accomplished spending his time making money and then spending the money in politics. In a swing state.

    Then there’s the initiatives. Lots of popular initiatives on the ballot every election. But if an initiative might actually change the status quo the factions on the losing end can tie it up in the courts for decades. So, even when we pass something it doesn’t ever seem to actually make it onto the books.

    It’s not really democracy. It’s more like the illusion of democracy.

  3. Dawn Summers Says:

    Where’s my link on the one of two people to call you the laziest person they know?

    I think everyone just kind of knew that already.

    hahahaha. true dat.

    As for your complaints about voting, it was voting that got arnold into office…strange weird california voting, i’m sure with more voting, not less, you’d be able to change whatever beaucracies remain in california. You guys, after all, unseated a sitting governor and replaced him with an actor.

  4. Eric Says:

    Sure, we could put Mickey Mouse in there. The point is the steering wheel isn’t connected.

  5. Dawn Summers Says:

    Mickey? For realz? See? That’s what California will always have over New York.

  6. Pokerwolf Says:

    Damn right.

    On all counts.

  7. ari Says:

    We elected Bloomberg. Same difference.

  8. Charles Says:

    You are no longer even the laziest person in this comments section.

  9. Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg Says:

    “…in my wildest dreams I am Al Gore…”

    Sweetie, don’t do that to yourself.

  10. Casca Says:

    Eh, as always, when it comes to a conclusion the wheels fall off of what might be loosely called, your thinking. Being educated on the candidates and issues is a citizen’s duty. Voting is a privilege. The fact that the left still has political traction is a testimony to the force of ignorant voters.

    Now how about a nice piece reconciling your faith with your party’s commitment to infantracide?

  11. Yaron Says:

    I agree with everything you wrote, except for the voting part. I actually think low voter turnouts in a democracy are a positive sign, because they indicate that people don’t think the government will have much of an effect on their lives either way. In any case, trying to get everyone to go out and vote strikes me as silly, because, hey, maybe they’ll all vote the “wrong” way. In the words of one of my favorite political thinkers, “Go vote people! Unless, you’re voting for someone other than who I voted for, in which case stay home.”

    Oh wait, that was you.

  12. Karol Says:

    “…in my wildest dreams I am Al Gore…”

    You didn’t even vote for Al Gore.

  13. Dawn Summers Says:

    I have voted for Al Gore.

  14. Snoop-Diggity-DANG-Dawg Says:

    Thought this was interesting over at Deceiver:

    “Obama’s 28 male staffers divided among themselves total payroll expenditures of $1,523,120. Thus, Obama’s average male employee earned $54,397. Obama’s 30 female employees split $1,354,580 among themselves, or $45,152, on average … on average, Obama’s female staffers earn just 83 cents for every dollar his male staffers make …

    McCain’s payment patterns are the stuff of feminist dreams. McCain’s 17 male staffers split $916,914, thus averaging $53,936. His 25 female employees divided $1,396,958 and averaged $55,878. On average, according to these data, women in McCain’s office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes.”

    Note to John McCain: the oodG-ay ldO-ay oy-Bay lubC-ay would like to speak with you.

  15. Eric Says:

    I have voted for Al Gore.

    That sentence smells of weasel.

  16. MissusB Says:

    I agree with those above who said that voting is a right. It’s a right bestowed by the Constitution. Right up there with freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. And, just a minor detail, if you are an immigrant, America does ask that you learn at least some history and government. Enough to get 6/10 on the naturalization test.

  17. Casca Says:

    Very perceptive of you Eric. Those were William Jefferson Blythe’s exact words.

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  19. Pedro João Says:

    movimento pode ser feito tanto no lugar tal como correndo.

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