Saturday, 8 November 2014

Jon Bear Journal: Election Day 2014

Jon Bear Journal: Election Day 2014

Election Day has a holiday type hype and atmosphere around it when you watch the television news programs in America and the various political pundits discuss the changing shape of American Politics as the Nation chooses it's new or returning leaders in Congress, the House of Representatives or the Presidency as well as in their state elections involving Governors, Comptrollers, Attorney Generals etc...

The sad aspect of this all from a very real standpoint is that all the excitement and buzz of election day seems to fizzle out shortly there after when the American public realizes that the only changes we see are the faces and not the rhetoric or action.  That's not to say that there are not many politicians who's intentions aren't to make a change or make a difference for their constituents, it's more a reflection of the process in today's political atmosphere.  The perception is that there is a lot of in fighting and an unwillingness to compromise among the members of the Republican and Democratic parties. In fact, it would seem to be the reality and not mere perception. If we give the benefit of the doubt to our politicians and the reality is a better version of what we see play out during the affairs that effect our public conscious then the problem still exists that the perception of our government is stagnation by virtue of pig-headedness. 

I'm not writing to suggest some cure-all solution to this problem.  I don't know it if there is one.  My mediation skills are not up to par with the kind of stubbornness that can be reflected in our two major government parties either.  I know I want things to change though.  How do you enact change without running for office yourself?  And even those who run for office with the grand idea of enacting change find the twists and turns of political gerrymandering dizzying.  I feel as if America's current political environment has Vertigo.

For the first several years I was of voting age I was a registered Republican.  I later switched to being a registered Democrat and for the last several years have been registered as an Independent, with no political leanings or affiliations with either party. 

This past November 4th was Election Day across our country and while there were many important National Battles playing out relative to which party would control the Senate (eventually enough seats were won by the Republicans to gain control, giving them a numbers advantage in both the House and Senate), my biggest focus or interest was on the election of our Governor in the State of New York.  Why should I be concerned with a race that essentially had a preordained winner?  As our incumbent Governor Andrew Como easily won re-election.  Well for me it just came down to reading and listening, and for once being able to make an informed decision on who I was choosing to vote for.  There was only one televised debate for the Govern ship of New York that I was able to see, and I'm fairly certain it was the only one shown.  I also took the time to read about this years candidates though and found that I most liked what Howie Hawkins of the Green Party had to say and how he went about saying it. 

I read that voting for Howie Hawkins this year was in essence a "protest vote" for Democrats who wanted to make a statement that Governor Cuomo was deviating from the things they found important, with regards to many of the hot topics of today, like Fracking, Education, Political Corruption, Pay for Women, Pay in general and even the proper handling of the Ebola risk.  A protest vote is seen as something of a safe vote.  For people with leanings towards the left of the political spectrum there was no real risk this year of Rob Astorino the Republican candidate being elected Governor of New York, so by voting for Howie Hawkins they did not have to worry about a Republican getting in office but could still show their disapproval with Governor Cuomo. 

Wikipedia Link

That was not my reason for voting for Howie Hawkins.  I voted for him because he was likable, seemed to be well spoken, well informed and most importantly I agreed with what he had to say.  I decided for once I did not care if the candidate I wanted to win had a real chance or not.  I wanted to support the candidate who I would pick if all things were equal.  Which in the political world they rarely are, especially when you get into spending, advertising and the like.  I voted for Howie Hawkins because I wanted him to be our Governor.  Not because I was trying to make a statement of disapproval against Mr. Cuomo and not because of any dislike of Mr. Astorino. 

I wish I had always voted that way and that we would all vote that way in the future.  So many times we let outside voices influence us in the choices we make.  I think it's important that we make decisions for ourselves and stand by those decisions.  When our candidate does not win I think it's important to try and find compromise on positions with those who were the elected officials.  We don't have to give up our convictions, just realize that the person in charge may have a different agenda and instead of stonewalling we need to single out the most important issues and concerns we have and push to make that part of the agenda of the elected official.  How do you do that?  Well, you have to push to make it part of the agenda of the community, because ultimately 4 or 6 years from now (depending on which office/position is being voted for) that's who the elected official will be beholden to upon re-election or removal.   Share with others in your community the issues and solutions that are important to you.  Then come election time maybe some of the issues will resonate with your neighbors and the ones that resonate most will get shared across a broad spectrum. 

One thing I heard constantly during CNN's broadcast of the Senate races that went on during this election was how voters did not like either candidate.  Well, I say, "vote for someone you like then!".  There is no rule that you have to vote Democrat or Republican.  There is no rule that you have to vote for the people listed on the ballot.  We have the option to write-in and vote for any person we like.  Find someone you agree with and vote for them. 

I DO think voting is important, because it's a right we have that is not given to everyone.  Therefore
I would not suggest that people not vote if they did not like either candidate.  I don't think that should be taken for granted.  Even if it may not seem to "mean much" there is an historical significance to the right to vote and we owe it to our ancestors who paid the price to make it possible for the rest of us. 

Those are just some thoughts I have in the wake of our most recent election.  I know that my own opinions and the things I find important to me change over time, so even come next year and then two years from now during the new presidential election I will have shaped and reshaped my own views on the major election topics (which more often then not involve the economy at the top spot).  So who will I vote for?  A Democrat?  A Republican?  An Independent?  I don't know yet.  I just know that my vote will go to whom ever I agree with most, and not who SHOULD or is EXPECTED to win. 


  1. Jon bear, I find it admirable that you take the time to vote especially as it's voluntary in your country. I didn't know you could register as a voter for a political party. I agree that you should vote for whoever you want even though you think they might not win. I discussed this with my brother once and he thinks that it's throwing your vote away but I think it's best to vote for someone you really want.

  2. I think I felt your brother did for a long time, but I've changed my opinion on the voting process. I enjoy voting, it's a privilege I have the happy obligation to uphold. Is voting mandatory or voluntary in Oz?

    I know I've mentioned this before, but a couple of years ago when I went to Seneca Falls New York with my family I learned at the Women's Rights Museum there that New Zealand and Australia were two of the earliest countries to allow women to vote. For years I had naively thought that the U.S.A. led the way in allowing Women's suffrage. >.< We weresomewhere near the 50th or 60th country to allow women to vote I think.

    1. Yep that's right New Zealand and Australia were the one of the first countries to allow women to vote. Voting is mandatory in Australia and people are supposed to register when they turn eighteen. When I was in high school, the government sent out register forms when I graduated from school.

      Some people avoid voting by never registering. If you don't vote, you can get issued a letter to explain why you didn't vote and a $20 fine. The matter can be taken to court where you can be fined a further 170 dollars plus court costs and you can have a criminal conviction.

      Elections are held on a Saturday and the voting booths are usually at the local school.


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