FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What’s a Regular Voter Like Me to Do?

I wonder how many Americans find themselves in the same predicament as I do: there’s an election next week and we have little idea about the issues being debated there and who we might vote for. Yes, elections are happening all across this country now. But would we know about it from our mass media? No.

In my upstate New York district, it’s not always apparent which candidate is Democrat and which is Republican. Some places have legislative elections; some don’t; my county has a state senate seat up for election, but I don’t vote there. Elsewhere (in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) are important races for governorships and some US senate seats are being contested. If it weren’t for Rachel Maddow’s discussion on national TV, out-of-staters wouldn’t know about them at all.

Meanwhile, through this bizarre American system of early party primaries, Iowa and New Hampshire, both small states, seem to dominate and skew our current democratic process. Ignoring local races which affect citizens’ daily lives (that mythical middle-American family beloved by all politicians), tens of millions of Americans obsessively watch, debate and quote statements by presidential candidates, men and women whose success down the road will have little to do with this week’s nationwide elections.

Who are those residents of Iowa and New Hampshire who get so much attention from the big parties and the media and the political analysts? Why do two low population (IA with 3,100,000 and NH with barely 1,300,000)  arguably marginal states, define our presidential nominees? If they really do. Outside of these presidential campaigns every four years, one hears little from them. How could their views of presidential contenders be as critical to the rest of us as the fierce competition underway suggests they are? And why can’t the major parties assign some of the many millions in their campaign chests to local contests?

Two weeks ago, lawn signs began to appear on roadsides in my neighborhood; they were announcing candidates for local judgeships, and for town mayors, councilmen and road supervisors. Thus I learn an election is imminent.

I normally vote by party, but none of those candidates’ flyers specify party affiliation. What about information from a local paper? I find only personal ads in this week’s edition. So I turn to my county Board of Elections webpage; here I’m first offered the names of a bunch of committee heads. I click the link to my town but information is sparse. On the ballot I’ll mark next Tuesday are 12 candidates running for 9 posts. Six of these candidates, all on the Republican ticket, are unopposed. None are from my party. I’ve not found even a resume of any candidate.

A neighboring county held a public candidates’ night with the local radio station airing contestants’ statements and Q&As from the public. Some of those candidates are running for seats in the county legislature. Hmmm, I consider, jealously: what about my county legislature? There is none, I learn. We have what’s called a Board of Supervisors. So are those seats up for election this week? It’s uncertain.

Can you blame me for turning to the national scene? I’ve been watching the Republican (the Democratic, too) presidential debates for the past 2 months–it seems like longer– followed by hours comparing my responses to the endless musings of our multitudes of talk show pundits. (They keep themselves gainfully employed through this process.) The candidates (we all know the handful of four or so who stand out) are certainly entertaining and at times infuriating, even frightening to a non-Republican. And if they can’t provide the level of comedy we need, corporate media will find a way to arouse us. And however outrageous, limp or impoverished these candidates may be, it’s our income-generating media that will keep this entire process going for another year—that’s 365 days from now!

In case I become excited over someone to cast my vote for, from among the finalists who survive through to next autumn, I’ll be told that the outcome for the post of the “most powerful person in the world”, will be in the hands of residents of the “swing states”-Florida, Pennsylvania and perhaps Colorado or Virginia–where competition is always close. We in the remaining 46 states will not count much. So, our costly, time-consuming election process comes down to media offerings. It’s good entertainment, I’ll give our democracy that.

More articles by:

Barbara Nimri Aziz is a New York based anthropologist and journalist. Find her work at www.RadioTahrir.org. She was a longtime producer at Pacifica-WBAI Radio in NY.

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail