Friday, October 22, 2004

Empathy and a cop out: Razor, I agree wholly with that sentiment. Politics is more polarizing than ever and I'm suspicous of the motives on both sides - and i don't mean the pols. I had a creepy feeling during the debate series when some friends of mine were having a "debate party." Pop some popcorn and chill some beer, gather round the tube and cheer for "your guy," give the old "In your face" sign to your buddy.

A presidential election is all at once too important and too trivial to be treated like the Super Bowl, no? It feels (this year more than before, but not much) like the concept of listening to the candidates and making a choice has been replaced by picking your team at the outset and cheering for them all the way, watching every statement like a Fourth and Goal plunge up the middle. And this is certainly true of both sides, and probably of me at times as well. Is it the fault of the media, the candidates, 527's, PAC's? Is it the hypercompetitive nature of American culture, or is it that the issues we face today have so completely divided the public that the only possible result is a perfect balance between "The Left" and "The Right" with the fight escalating to a violent peak. What's the end game? How much worse can it get?

So what's the choice? I don't know. I live in North Carolina, a state that is not going to go Democratic in the Presidential election, just like Eno lives in the People's Republic which will never go Republican. I used to say I didn't consider a "protest vote" to be a viable option for me. There's no party or person who completely embodies my political thoughts (I'm sure this is true of just about everyone else) and the idea of picking one candidate inevitably involves some measure of compromise. I made a conscious compromise in 2000 supporting Bush, and I'd be okay with doing it again today if I thought it was the same bargain, but it's an entirely new calculation today, harder and more complex than before.

Now I'm beginning to realize that if making a compromise is inevitable, and if my vote really won't swing the electoral balance, maybe this is really one year where I could make a third party vote. I don't know, though. Still thinking

I doubt your vote is going to make the difference in Pennsylvania, but it's a battleground state so I don't know how you'll factor it all in.

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