July 10, 2008
Every time an election comes around, at least in the United States, it seems like there’s always a statistic that comes about about how the number of registered voters who bothered to show up and actually vote only amounts to about 0.038%, meaning, basically, that six people made a decision we’ll all be complaining about for the next few years. There’s been a lot of talk about how to prevent this, but I think the biggest problem may be voting fatigue. I’ve got nothing against democracy, but it seems like every other day I’m encouraged to vote for something that doesn’t really make that much difference, like the best Indian restaurant in the city, or my favorite episode from the last season of a TV show I never really watched, or whether I wear boxers or briefs–a question that always makes me ask, "Is there a third candidate?" But I digress. There have even been votes for the new color of M&M’s, asking people whether they prefer puce or chartreuse. Aren’t yellow, green, blue, red, brown, aubergine, sangria, asparagus, periwinkle, and plaid enough? And, more importantly, will I be sued for not putting ™ after M&M’s even though everybody knows I’m talking about the candy that, in spite of their insistence to the contrary, will melt in your hand, especially on a really hot day?
But I digress. I’m all for democracy, but it seems like we have so many choices already it’s hard sometimes to make a choice when trying to decide who’s the best person to represent me, especially in the small local elections where it can be almost impossible to get accurate information about the candidate, beyond the fact that all their advertising has been spray painted on the sides of cars in the mall parking lot. And even when I get the information sometimes it can be even more confusing because I feel like I don’t have enough choices. I might look at a particular candidate for, say, the school board, and think, well, I disagree with her on zoning issues, but her plan to pay some Dutchman to set fire to Lord Snowden intrigues me. I think this is why Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government–with the exception of all other forms of government. At least I’ve been told he said that, but I’ve never found the exact quote. If it’s a true sentiment, though, it doesn’t matter if it was some guy two cubicles down from me who actually said it and not Winston Churchill. Things like that just tend to get attributed to Churchill because he was a smart guy who knew a thing or two about democracy, and I’m pretty sure, unlike the guy two cubicles down from me, I’m pretty sure Winston Churchill never spent an hour and a half looking for his pen only to realize he’d tucked it behind his ear.