Monday, November 5, 2012

Random Law School Update 39: Why I Vote

Last Location: Barcelona, Spain
Arrival Date: August 26, 2012
Departure Date: December 22, 2012*

Present Location: Paris, France
Arrival Date: November 5, 2012
Departure Date: November 5, 2012

Next Location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: November 5, 2012
Departure Date: November 12, 2012

Tomorrow is Election Day. If you haven’t already, I trust that you will commit yourself to going out to the booths and braving the lines.

Why I vote:

My vote isn’t merely a symbol of my support for a particular candidate.

My vote serves as a placeholder. A placeholder for democracy in the future. When I vote, I communicate that I value a system of governance in which I have a say. A system that I am empowered to improve through non-violent means.

My vote is a symbol against complacency. And a token of appreciation for what others have gone through to guarantee me this right. When I spend hours trying to figure out the correct system for voting early from abroad, or waiting in lines at polling booths, I don’t compare the time lost to other things I could have been doing. I look at the time saved by my not having to form a revolution.

I vote to ensure the success of my country. And I vote even when there are no good choices—to show that I am paying attention.

However, in this election I happen to believe that there is a good choice. President Obama has made many decisions in office on issues that I do not necessarily support or care about. But official legislative acts represent only a fraction of a president’s opportunity to improve society.

President Obama is changing the way politics are run. By soliciting campaign funds directly from the people to whom he ought to be directly accountable—the public—he is reducing the inflated influence of large industrial lobbies, like oil and gas…or agriculture. In the past, political candidates would find themselves in the pockets of the lobbies that had helped them get elected. This hurt Americans, stifled social advancement, and prevented win-win solutions from being sought.

Obama has also changed politics by talking to the American people like rational adults in terms we can understand. He hasn’t tried to hide the ball or change the subject. He is forward, honest, and rational. Which means, even if I don’t agree with him on everything, I can imagine a world in which it might be the right thing to do. And that is sufficient. Because I know that I don’t agree with anybody on everything. Also, when Americans are treated like rational decision makers, I believe they are more likely to behave like rational decision makers. This is good for every aspect of society, and the economy.

As a pragmatic libertarian, I am not sure how I feel about Obama’s stance on healthcare. I have not read the gargantuan Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nor do I plan to. However, I do know that the system we had previously is unacceptable. And I know that if I don’t have a job lined up after I depart from my student health insurance, his plan will ensure that I can continue to receive treatment despite my pre-existing condition.

I know that my friends and family are split between liberals and conservatives. I would vote for Obama in this election even if I considered myself conservative, if only because I trust his well-thought-out plan for fiscal responsibility over Romney’s apparently flawless (and numberless) plan.

And because, while the institution of marriage gives me the heebie-jeebies, it hardly affects me if gays want to do it.



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