A few weeks ago I tweeted the following quote from You've Got Mail, "In the last mayoral election when Rudy Giuliani was running against Ruth Messenger, I went to get a manicure and I forgot to vote." The response was overwhelming. People love that movie—and there's no reason not to. Email love? Golden retrievers? Shops around the corner? Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils? I mean, really? People love that movie. I love that movie. But the point of the tweet was missed I'm afraid.
Two years ago I moved to Texas. New York was the most recent place I'd lived, so I still had my NY drivers license, and was in no rush to plant my roots here, so I kept it. Plus I was having a good hair day when the photo was taken and good drivers license photos are like good men—they're hard to find, so when you have one, keep him.
The thing is, I still have my NY license. Which means, technically, I'm still a resident of NY. Which means, literally, if I voted in this election, I'd have to vote as absentee New Yorker. Fine and good except I forgot and then it was too late and I think technically I'm not even registered anymore and even I was, I wouldn't be voting my party, etc. So in this presidential election, while Barack Obama is running against Mitt Romney, I live in Texas and forgot to vote.
When people tell me it is my "God-given right as an American to vote," I want to offer them a slice of pie, one made from earthworms and one made from mice innards. Not because I'm a mean person, but because it's their right to vote and it's also their right to say "No, thank you." Having the right to choose something does not necessarily mean the options are something your gut will agree with.
Before you take offense at me comparing the incumbent or his adversary to earthworms and mice innards, the allegory works best if you realize that neither pie looks very appetizing from this point of view.
When people assume that because I will not be voting in this election it is because I don't understand, nor appreciate the men and women who have fought wars to give us this right, I will remind them I have two brothers recently back from Iraq and Afganistan and I know full well what is at stake here.
When people talk about lesser of two evils, I ask if they had a choice to jump off the Brooklyn bridge or jump off a five story building which would they choose? Well, I'd rather not jump at all, they would say, and I rest my case. If I am adamantly opposed to more than 60% of each candidates' position (and I am), why would I punch that ballot?
When some well meaning soul brings up their single issue voting platform (on either side), I look them deeply in the eye and listen to them, and laud their passion, appreciate why they hold their position, and then ask them if they've listened to the people who care deeply about the other side's position. Most times they have not, and more importantly, they would not be willing to.
Here's why I won't be voting as a Republican or Democrat in this presidential election:
I am proud to be an American. I have seen the world, been in several third world countries, and in countries where democracy is a thing of dreams; I have seen poverty; I have friends who have had abortions and gay friends who want to marry their partners; I have friends who have declared bankruptcy and I have friends who work in Washington; I have friends who bleed blue and some who bleed red (literally and figuratively); I come from a state where a Republican vote simply didn't seem to matter, and now I live in a state where a vote for a Democrat simply doesn't seem to matter.
I am proud to be an American. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to vote, and when my conscience allows for it, I flip that lever gladly, even passionately, with a deep belief that my vote will say something.
But my vision for America is a little more simple than the two parties have made it at this point. I want to see liberty for all, and justice for all, and frankly, I don't see much of that in either candidate's plan or past. I want to see less marketing, less hype, less promises. I want to see more George Washingtons, men who get down off their dapple grey and serve the people. I want to see men who promise to serve the people, instead of trying to pull us onto their mighty steed of greed.
I won't be voting because I have a deep conviction and hope for America and I think the tide is turning. I'm convinced of that, more than I ever have been before. I'm convinced that young people are understanding more and more that local matters, and not just local business or local food, but local government. I think the more we feel let down by Washington, the more we will care about what happens in our own sphere because we'll see that it matters. It matters to somebody.
I'm not voting because I see two parties facing off but inching closer and closer to one another on every issue and my hope is that they crash into one another soon.
So I'm voting by not voting and I'm voting for something different, new and old, progressive and historical, liberty for the marginalized and the upper echelon, and justice for babies and criminals—and I don't think the two candidates on the ballot offer any of that.
I'll probably get a manicure instead.
PS. If I hadn't forgotten and was registered, I'd have written in my vote anyway and he doesn't have a chance at winning right now, so don't give me your "You're throwing your vote away!" mantra. My vote wouldn't matter for your candidate anyway.
PPS. Wanna go get a manicure with me?
(If you're wondering why there are no comments on this, it's not because I'm a scaredy cat, promise. Here's why.)