Tuning out is no option, never mind the odds

Like clockwork, it’s guaranteed that, given the passage of a certain amount of time, I would get an earful about frustration folks, be they friends or strangers, feel over the system, that they think is best expressed in refraining from voting, period. Admittedly, this determination to opt out of being a full participant in the democratic process isn’t all that easy to rebuke. Being firmly ensconced among the celebrated 99 percent and staring at a socio-economic profile which down the road seems unlikely to show appreciable ground gains, makes a solid case for tuning out and joining the chorus of: ”It makes no difference; they’re all the same damned thing.”

Tough as circumstances might make it, though, to look past a clear and present uneasiness and objectively assess what’s revealed through a wider lens, this is ultimately what prudence dictates that we do. Seemingly trapped in an economic wind pocket, it might well be beyond one’s capabilities to imagine a situation where the screws are turned even more tightly, not just economically but in a manner designed to otherwise diminish one’s sense of self. Therein, sadly, are the options we face in the offerings of the two political behemoths vying for the right to call the shots as to how goes this country.

Our view here, as has been obvious all along, is that it’s a no-brainer, which option should be rejected out of hand and which, if not warmly embraced, is at least worthy of accommodation. There’s no doubt that peering into that wider visual field indicates much greater cause for alarm resident in the camp touting the virtuousness of scaling back what figured to be forward motion for the huddled masses. And it’s not that we’re entirely clueless about what could be that more menacing shape of things to come. The prelude from its authors has been instructive indeed. Widespread greed within the ranks of the haves meshes perfectly with the design of those would-be navigators of where we should be headed. So too does the latter-day assault on basic worker entitlements, threatening in barefaced fashion what was thought a bow to decency decades ago. So too does indifference to environmental protection, and for good measure according validity to freaks who dismiss this as a bogus concern. So too does the idea that a national minimum wage appropriate to the times is one the status quo cannot or should not abide.

Those who would design this particular shape of the country to be also tend to believe that a return to American hegemony through whimsical demonstration of military might is eminently desirable policy. We’ve been fed this take on the international relations concept ad nauseam by John McCain and others of his ilk, for whom there is evidently no dust-up anywhere around the world that doesn’t qualify for a show of American muscle.

All of this and more informs our strongly held view that, disheartening though conditions may be, the act of making a ballot-box choice has, if anything, grown more pregnant with meaning in the age of Obama (and the disturbingly sharp polarization it has exposed) than the country has seen in a while. Why, the very privilege of casting a vote was, for some bona fide citizens, a hard-won pitched battle a mere half century ago. And damned if those ever-lurking forces of reaction haven’t begun pecking away at the spoils of victory. Intent they are, we keep hearing, on making winning in battleground states more out of reach for the other side, this year and going forward.

We may be a bit jaded, in New York and wherever else they’re not used to such concerns bubbling up. But we shouldn’t be. Their battles in Florida or Wisconsin or Michigan aren’t as alien to us as we may think.

Having a sense of whose intentions figure to tip the balance to our further disadvantage and peril, we need to be constantly mindful that to be blasé or consciously opt out of the voting ritual is to consent to a grant of dominion for which we will pay dearly. Not voting contributes to making victors of folks we least need to see occupying that perch. We have had the good fortune to be exposed to their brand.

Their brand is represented by dastardly types whose convening in a so-called Tea Party was ignited by the unimaginable audacity of an “off-color” occupant of the White House and whose reason for being, never mind whatever hash is served up, is that their contempt for this president cannot be contained. Their brand has a knee-jerk (negative) response to any move made in the direction of improving the lot of the underclass – exemplified in the bon mot of a very forgettable character named Herman Cain, that the poor have only themselves to blame for their condition.

Please, as rationale for dissing the ballot box, let’s not resort to that old saw about it matters none who is chosen. It does matter, we should remember, even put upon as we might already be. There is one choice which, even if it isn’t exactly the nirvana we seek, is a “no contest” winner, given the alternative. The alternative should make us ballot-box fanatics.

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