This presidential election: Why I don’t care

I don’t care who will win the upcoming presidential election.

I really don’t.

Oh. I will vote.

I believe in voting.

Good men and women have suffered and died for my right to vote, and I will forever be indebted to them. It is for them that I vote. It is for the men and women who can’t vote that I will vote.

But I am convinced that who I vote into the office of president no longer matters.

The President of the United States is as much a figurehead as the Queen Mother, albeit she’s much more likeable in many ways. (Perhaps we ought to consider electing Betty White?)

Sure, the role of president isn’t determined by something as arbitrary as a blood line. Our candidates buy and leverage their way into our nation’s most powerful position.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the sort of democracy the First Congress had in mind when they proposed the First Amendment, but it’s where we are now. In their day it was considered reprehensible to even campaign for office.

This ability to blow the lid on campaign finance — to pimp out the office of presidency to the highest John — this is what we call progress?

No thank you.

I don’t care if Barack Obama — the man of big hopes and little change — wins. Or if Mitt Romney — the man of unlimited resources and limited vision — wins.

It won’t matter.

The results will be the same — four more years of political pandering and public posturing.

But don’t mistake me for a cynic. I’m a realist. I know who controls the purse strings and it isn’t the president.

It’s Congress.

So don’t bother asking me who I’m voting for president this year. I don’t care who wins this presidential election.

Real progress won’t happen in this country until Congress quits carrying on like a bunch of slow-witted frat boys arguing over old rivalries.

Enough already.

Grow up.

Can’t you see that this country is headed down the Cahulawassee River?

Those expecting deliverance to come by way of Obama are Romney are sure to end up squealing like pigs in the wilderness.

America needs real transformation. The kind that can’t be legislated, orchestrated, or monetized.

The problems we face as a nation are not the result of political policy, or the lack thereof. They are the result of character, and a lack thereof.

No catchy campaign slogan or Wall Street marketing firm will provide us with the hope and change we need as a people and as a nation.

 

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”

- Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • julie

    Is that an altered photo?

  • julie

    I was just commenting to my husband that the political race lasts 4 years instead of a few months. We can never get away from the ranting and the sophistry unless we choose not to listen to tv or radio.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      It is an altered photo and the reason you can’t get away from it — and it’s about to get far, far worse — is because of the advertising dollars. This, as my friend Q says, is not a Democracy but a Corpocracy.

    • alishadefreitas

      Yes. It’s from a music video that pokes fun at the race and uses a popular pop song by Carly Rae Jepson.

  • Tanya

    I have the greatest respect for you, but I don’t understand this opinion. At all.
    One of these candidates seems far more likely to take us into a war with Iran. He’s getting $100 million dollars from someone who is spoiling for that war. (See Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney.) And one of the candidates, and his party, seem to want to shrink government down to nothing. That means, even fewer social workers to investigate domestic violence. Child abuse. There aren’t enough now. But think about it, even fewer?

    Strictly speaking, you are right. The election of one of these candidates will not bring in the kingdom of God. But I don’t understand how anyone who reads the newspapers can fail to grasp just exactly how different these men are, and what that will mean in concrete terms. I don’t mean one is perfect, and the other horrible. Not a 0 and a 100 — more like a 10 and a 35. But there’s a world of difference there still. Especially if you think about war or peace. Or if you are concerned about the enviromnent. A handful of decisions will make an enormous difference in some people’s lives. So fine, pick the least bad candidate. But let’s not pretend it really won’t make any difference to anyone. I lost a job once. Working with emotionally disturbed kids. New administration got elected and cut the funding. Awful for the kids, awful for me.

    The next Supreme Court justices?

    Voting matters.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      In concrete terms, I think we have turned the office over to the highest bidder. And I’m pretty sure when it comes to war or peace, Congress retains control over all that. It doesn’t matter which administration gets elected jobs will be cut, funding will continue to be a problem, because as James so aptly noted above Congress would rather waste time and money on meaningless pursuits. If it’s decisions and jobs you are worried about then where you ought to be sweating the election is Congress.

      • Tanya

        Congress retains the power to declare war. But as you probably know, it has been forever since we’ve declared war. There is plenty of weasel room for the president to command the armed forces into conflict — before or after he consults Congress, and with or without a vote. Ie, On April 29, 1969, without consulting Congress, Nixon placed twenty thousand American troops in Cambodia in an effort to covertly continue the war in Vietnam. That’s exactly the way I’d imagine us ending up in Iran. And, can you name a time Congress has sent troops over the objection of the President?

        So I agree — Congress is a big problem. Especially in relation to the economy. But to think of Romney appointing the next Supreme Court justices, who will serve out a lifetime, is horrifying to me. That could hamstring the government for decades — no matter who is elected.

        If Romney is elected, he will be at least partly beholden to the lunatic fringe. I wouldn’t want to see the result. Many of us progressives thought Clinton was terrible for our cause–welfare reform, Nafta, etc. — but I think we came to see that Bush was far worse.

        I understand that Americans are most concerned about jobs. But there are other matters — some related, some not. I for one would like NOT to have funding for alternative fuels research cut. That’s another thing we could look forward to under Romney. Look, I’m disappointed in Obama, but an all-Republican governement and a majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court will just grease the skids and make changes in a great many arenas that will take forever to undo.

        • Tanya

          Just a bit more on that war thing: While technically the President cannot declare war without Congress, under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the President can send troops into combat as long as he informs Congress within 48 hours of doing so . Then he has 60 days and then another 30 days for withdrawal before he has to get Congressional approval or a formal declaration of war. Congress has to approve any additional funds that an undeclared war requires.

          All that voting that took place before the troops went to Iraq had to do with Bush’s desire to drum up support for the invasion. Actual permission might not have been necessary.

          So, does anybody doubt that within 60-90 days of sending troops into Iran we’d be in a war we’d have a hard time extricating ourselves from?

        • A65roger

          And isn’t it interesting that back in 1953 we overthrew a constitutional government in Iran–becasue we were afraid the Soviet Union would be able otherwise to dominate and control the world’s oil supply? Today, Russia is a major oil producer; but Iran, despite its own resources, imports refined fuel. And it’s as plain as day that the way you don’t get messed with, at least not yet, is to have your own nukes. And right next door Iran has the latest example of yet another outside intervention in Afghanistan that will leave the job unfinished and undone with still more rubble across the land. And more to come, surely. Sending troops has consequences. So does pulling them out and using drones instead. So does propping up a corrupt government with untold wads of cash. So do embargoes and trade sanctions. And always, the people at the bottom bear the hardships. Does it really take all that to keep us “free”?

          I recently heard Andrew Bacevich lecture on the end of “the American Century”. Seems like most of the world knows that–but we don’t.

  • alishadefreitas

    I totally agree! This is exactly how I feel. I’m going to be sharing this. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/Washington826 Washington Delgado

    i agree with a lot of this, including no matter what you should vote, but i would rather have a President with big hopes, than one with a limited view!! Either way we are all in for a big sloppy mess of a time!!

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I think we are smack dab in the middle of the mess we have created.

    • alishadefreitas

      Washi, did you come here from my link on Twitter or Facebook? Because I think I annoyed some peeps on FB by posting it, he he he!

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Karen, I refrained from commenting yesterday when this appeared, because I have such strong opinions about the content. In short, I agree with you. I mean, I’ll vote, too, most likely for the guy you’re not voting for. But there is so much more to this. So much that voters just don’t get when it comes to the fact that a presidential administration has such a negligible effect on a nation’s economy.
    I say this not as an insider with super-secret knowledge. All one has to do is study economics 101 and a little history, and it’s plain as day.
    The problem is, of course, that no candidate will dare admit that, as president, he can’t change much. How can he possibly run for office if he says that?
    And the press won’t own up to it, because they need to sell the idea that the president matters if they plan to sell papers or get ratings.

    You’re right on when pointing out that it comes down to our lawmakers.

    Of course, Congress is busy spending $120 million to try a baseball player for the horrible crime of lying to Congress, so they really can’t be bothered right now.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Couldn’t agree more about the Clemens trial. Total waste of money and resources. But, hey, it got them a lot of front page coverage.

      RE: the way we do politics. We have to at least respect the monarchy because it is at least upfront about the fact that they are just an ideal, a tradition, a well-funded figurehead.

      We go around pretending like who is president matters. Which it may have at one point but when the office is pimped out to the highest bidder, the man with the biggest amount of campaign funding behind him, then I say, pull off the robe and quit pretending like we are the better people because we have a democracy.

      What is democratic about corporations giving their player the ball and telling him to run with it?

      And Americans continually fall captive to the cheering crowd mentality.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2012/06/13/exclusive-adelsons-pro-romney-donations-will-be-limitless-could-top-100m/

      http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2012/05/08/billionaire-george-soros-jumps-into-election-with-million-donations-democratic-groups/17LERzCUIRDIHEFAbKU1jK/story.html

      • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

        I have a history degree from my schoolteaching days, but when I went back to get my Information Systems degree, I had to take extra economics classes (because IS is a Business degree). If I were to get back into teaching history or government, I’d strongly emphasize how Congress inserts the most damaging riders into (often unrelated) bills so they will slip through unnoticed, and become law with no debate.

        As you point out, such additions are nearly always aimed at pleasing some donor, whether it’s a business or a special-interest group. So you may have a 100-page highway funding bill, and on page 37, there’s a section that gives funding to some special pet project for a congress member. There’s no way to simply vote against that part of the bill, so the congressmen/women must vote for the entire highway bill or against it.

        If I could educate voters about anything, it would be that one, dirty trick that all members of our lawmaking branch use to make their donors happy. That’s the kind of tactic that is causing us to be drowning in debt. It isn’t that the rich don’t pay enough taxes. It isn’t undeserving welfare recipients. It’s all the pet projects. 538 members of Congress, and they all have pets that need feeeding.

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          Yes. I agree. Common sense would tell you that such a practice is devious and wrong, but common sense is a rare commodity. I suppose this is what we can expect from a capitalistic system that has no moral compass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705653777 Lou Godbold

    You have put your finger nicely on the problem. And it doesn’t matter that there’s a polarity with our 2 party system because as you point out, it’s all more of the same. But people still find plenty to argue about, to hate each other for. Meanwhile, we’re all jigged around like puppets on a string. I wonder if we rolled back the rhetoric and the automatic drawing up of sides on predictably dividing issues, whether we’d find we’re all concerned about the same things. And I wonder if we let go of fear, whether we’d find that together we could come a long way to finding solutions…

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Of course we would be a lot more productive if we worked together but then that might take putting others before ourselves and who wants to do such a silly thing?

  • A65roger

    Tanya makes very valid points. And Julie is correct that the election cycle is no longer a cycle but now an endless process. Corpocracy is not accurate, I think. Aren’t we beset by plutocracy, pure and simple? Interesting in the Forbes piece that Adelson is so concerned about the redistribution of wealth thing–when we’ve had the “water running uphill” at an ever-accelerating rate. By hoping to preserve the status quo, or even accelerating it, he is the very problem he decries. But it makes good fear-mongering.

    Humanity has been down this road before. The prophet Amos has vocabulary that fits today. Name me a civilization or empire that hasn’t had a good thing going, only to blow it all by simply failing to do the work of maintaining itself. I have no doubt that Mitt Romney and Angela Merkel, should they decide to dig in their heels, could bring down the entire world economy–and doubtless spawn the conditions for global war–all the while firmly believing in their ideological blindness that they were on the only right path to growth and prosperity.

    Ironic that Obama is so often branded a power hungry dictator, a veritable Hitler. To me, one word describes the man: WEAK. Sure, he flings an exec order here and there–but only because he knows he can’t get squat through Congress so he doesn’t even try. If he did try, at least he could come to the people and say, “Look, you gotta help me on this ’cause this is what will help you., etc.” No such.

    Instead, he’s like the preacher or speaker who knows he’s completely lost his audience so he doesn’t even make eye contact any longer, just looks down at his text in order to get to the end. He seriously thought he could lead, I believe, by rising above partisanship and giving a speech or two to nudge things along. He really had no plan B and no experience to fall back on when the original plan failed early. I’m sorry it has come to this. I believed four years ago that his rival for the Dem nomination had much more of the grit needed to be president, and I wish I’d had the chance to vote for her.

    Meanwhile, how many of us have contacted our members of Congress today? Or lately?

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I wholeheartedly agree with you on the weak remark, Roger. I hate that I agree with you but I do. And while I have never been a fan of Hilary I find myself agreeing with you even on that observation. She could have done a better job. As much as I loathe the idea of Mitt winning, I don’t feel any better about Obama winning. Like I said, I don’t really care. I can’t base my vote on their character as Tim suggests because the truth is, none of us really know the character of any president. Our parents thought they knew JFK’s character but have since found out they didn’t. I thought I knew Bush’s character but was sorely surprised. Bush made me a repentant Republican, and an Independent.

  • Tim

    “The problems we face as a nation are not the result of political policy, or the lack thereof. They are the result of character, and a lack thereof.”

    And that’s why I vote based on character and not so much platform. Politicians usually run for office based on how they would solve today’s problems. I’m more interested in voting for the person with the integrity and experience to handle the problems we don’t see coming.

    Tim

    P.S. Frat boys? I know the majority of people in Congress are men, but this pejorative is a bit jarring. If the majority were women, would it be OK to say they act like high school girls engaging in cat fights?

    • A65roger

      Tim, I appreciate the P.S. comments. See my comment on Karen’s “All Good Men Rise” post of 6/17.

      • Tim

        Just read it. Great tribute, Roger.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      It’s not just that they are men, but that they are men who drink together, eat together, bicker at each other, and play games with one another at taxpayer’s expense. I think slow-witted frat boys is an approp characterization. And if Congress were full of women doing this same thing I’d come up with an equally descriptive characterization. I don’t base such characterizations on gender but on behavior.

      • Tim

        Does this assume the women in Congress do not engage in counter-productive behavior as well? If they do but it just takes a different form, what is the appropriate epithet for them? Drunken barflies fighting over the lone man available at last call? (Just a suggestion, mind you.)

        I actually am very impressed with what I’ve seen from some members of Congress – woman or man – just as I am distressed by what I’ve seen from others.

        Blessings,
        Tim

    • Jon

      “If the majority were women, would it be OK to say they act like high school girls engaging in cat fights?”

      Yes!

      • http://www.housewifetheologian.com/singers-arent-only-ones-who-can-sing/ Tim

        I think not, though, Jon. Gender based stereotypes and epithets hinder productive and constructive discussion. Some may think me a bit too serious on this subject, but I can’t help it.


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