Losing My Religion

November 2, 2010 Comments Off on Losing My Religion

I have lost my faith in voting. How can it possibly make a difference, in a huge country packed full of people louder and more politically opinionated/informed than me? No one has successfully addressed that question, at least not in my hearing. The answer is always, “Well, you might not think so, but it does make a difference. Look, just vote, okay?” What I need is for someone to present a thought experiment in which my own personal vote makes a difference in the outcome of an election.

And then, even if I manage to help someone get elected, will they make a difference? That is arguably more troublesome than the last question, because, whereas I am at least open to the possibility that one vote might tip the scales, I have slowly but surely become convinced that politicians don’t address real governmental issues. What about national debt? No one will ever touch that issue, and here we are spiraling down toward bedrock while we discuss things like gay marriage and abortion, which are not only not real governmental issues but are issues whose morality should be self-evident to anyone with any kind of a moral compass. (Okay, both those statements are a little too broad. But still.) It’s like the crew of the Titanic arguing about what color their uniforms should be.

Nothing about the way our government works, either in theory or in practice, has convinced me that my vote or my voice or my opinions have any bearing at all on what actually happens, legislatively speaking. Or judicially speaking, for that matter. Losing your faith in voting is a crisis of faith every bit as jarring as a religious one. At least it makes sense to lose faith in something you can’t see or feel. But to lose faith in something that is supposed to be tangible and accessible (albeit in the background) is a terrible feeling, as if you were suddenly forced to admit that you didn’t believe in barometric pressure. Hopefully a miracle will convince me that I do make a difference. But as any disillusioned believer can tell you, miracles are in short supply, particularly for the people who really need them.

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