This is an unpublished piece
During the height of the 2008 election, Howard Zinn aptly summarized our every-four-year trip to the political Mt. Sinai. He noted, “…we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls…” Zinn’s more significant point was to lay bare the act of voting as a golden calf forged by the American populace.
The age of social media has only strengthened his point. We proudly post pictures of our “I voted” stickers. Worse, we force it upon our children, the new body of Christ indoctrinating them into our cult. And the non-voters among us we admonish. Forget the fact that an abstention is a valid form of political protest. And those that abstain are the loudest and most significant voice in America.
And, yet for all our proselytizing about the act of voting, we lack concern for the results.
To be clear, we invest in the spectator-sport of it all. We are Team Edward or Team Jacob right up until we delete “Twilight” from our Kindle to make room for the “Hunger Games.” As Zinn pointed out in a much more eloquent fashion, we have no concern past election day. Never do we question whether Team Bella needs to break away from the patriarchy of it all.
Take, for example, the recent recount efforts in Pennsylvania. It’s a process which occurs on a district-by-district basis. Each district in Pennsylvania requires notarized affidavits from three voters within that district. There are over 9000 districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under this rule, a statewide recount is near impossible. And this does not factor in the ambiguous laws about when to submit a recount request, where to send it, and how much, if anything, it may cost the voter. All for something that, if it were of import to the American people, should be available for any citizen to review.
Democrats and Republicans have commenced efforts to discount any recount – all while convincing us that voting is the holy land of American politics. One Republican operative said the recount effort was nothing more than partisan politics. Donald Trump’s vote margin contracted by 30,000 votes in the recanvassed districts.
Now, in the face of mounting evidence our election fell prey to interference by a foreign government we’re not asking fundamental questions. In fact, to question the vote in America elevates one to immediate fringe status.
Voting itself is not enough. Contrary to elementary school fairytales, voting was not even of much import to our founders. Lookup republic versus direct democracy. Zinn said it best when he wrote, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” We need to concern ourselves more with governance and void the team atmosphere of presidential politics. And when we do vote, we need to do it more than once every four years – elections occur every November.
But if voting is as important as we proclaim it to be, then the very least we can all do is demand to know how many votes were cast. Instead of an “I Voted” sticker, demand a receipt that says, “I voted for….” And make sure it is time stamped.