Don’t vote for the wrong reasons

Oh glory, I’m angry. Aren’t you angry?
Sure you are. But why are we so angry?
We’re angry because of the social and political climate in this country.
Things ain’t the way they used to be or so it seems.
The values of our homes are not appreciating over time like they used to.
We don’t seem to have as much money as we used to.
We don’t seem to have the jobs we used to have.
And those damn politicians –– they’re the worst. They don’t fight for us like they used to.
The status quo just isn’t doing it.
As a result, come November, we as a people are ready to cast our ballots, yeah?
We can’t just witness the change –– we need to BE the change.
Absolutely. We need to channel our anger into making that change.
However, we need to channel that anger appropriately. That’s especially difficult right now, not only because of the extreme partisanship in politics.
There’s an extreme partisanship in our national discourse, spurred by the mainstream media and perpetuated by us, the citizenry, who eat out of the media’s hands.
The media has misplaced our anger, and we need to do some sifting through its muck to figure out what exactly we are angry about.
I have been doing some sifting because of my frustration with these problems.
There are at least three issues I’ve found in our national discourse, that I believe are misdirecting our general frustration.
Addressing these issues could potentially be analgesic and not only for our national discourse and national politics but also for our national sanity.
I’ll frame these three issues as “reasons not to vote.” They’re issues that make us angry but they’re also issues that are disconnected from our country’s problems. I hope they’re as sobering for you as they are for me.
Issue one: don’t vote because America is a “Christian nation.”
It’s not, even though people like Sarah Palin say things like –– incoherent as this is –– “hearing any leader declare that America isn’t a Christian nation… it’s mind-boggling to see some of our nation’s actions recently, but politics truly is a topic for another day” (ABC News, April 20).
Sure, “Christian values” could have influenced America’s ethical philosophies. Yes, the Massachusetts Bay colonies were founded by Puritans.
However, we have to remember why those Puritans fled to America in the first place: religious persecution. They didn’t have freedom of expression under the state–imposed religion of England.
Freedom of expression means freedom of religion –– it’s in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
To consider America a “Christian nation” is to consider the First Amendment to the Constitution in a state of legal limbo. It’s also a borderline revocation of rights, for people not of Christian faith.
And valuing some people’s rights over others won’t protect our country’s freedom or remedy our country’s problems.
Issue two: don’t vote because taxes are too high. They’re not.
Pat Toomey, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, declared in an op–ed on his Web site, “We need to stop passing legislation with billions of dollars in tax increases.”
In fact, federal taxes are lower than they were during the Bush administration, even with the Bush tax cuts still in place.
This is because American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (colloquially “the stimulus bill”), as noted by The New York Times on October 18th, “decreased income taxes by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples.”
Furthermore, federal taxes will not increase come January with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts unless, of course, you’re in the wealthy upper echelon of society –– of those raking in, as couples, $250,000, and as individuals, $200,000 or more a year.
If we vote to extend the tax cuts for this group, the wealthiest three percent of Americans, we vote to continue enlarging the federal deficit. And enlarging the federal deficit certainly won’t cure America’s economic woes.
Issue three: don’t vote because Fox News or MSNBC tells you to.
Although they’re a quick and easy source for news, neither of them is ever entirely reliable.
One spins a sensationalist conservative narrative of the news, the other a sensationalist liberal narrative.
One is owned by News Corp., the other by NBC Universal –– both multinational conglomerates whose business (and thus political) interests have little to do with providing you with enough information to be an unbiased, informed citizen.
Fox News and MSNBC aren’t giving information that will help you make a reasoned decision, by and large.
They’re giving you information that will encourage you to vote in ways that further their monetary interests, and/or the political interests of their owners. And their owners are the owners of these three issues.
Don’t let the owners of these three issues own your vote.