Ballad of the absentee mare
"Absentee Ballot?" I hear newer readers ask, "but there is no upcoming election, even if there were we do not allow oversees voting for fear of the Diaspora crowning Gerry Adams 'King for Life', and judging by your frequent diatribes against the sclerotic fauna of Dublin are you yourself not a resident of this fair city?".
While such questions do indeed see you rewarded with a partial credit for paying attention, longer-term readers will know that Unkie Dave is blessed/cursed with dual citizenship, and once every four years grudgingly accepts the mantel of half his ancestry in order to vote in an oversees election, secure in the knowledge that he will not have to live with the consequences. While this did momentarily make me ever so tempted to vote for McCain last time round just to see what would happen if Sarah Palin got in, the same display of morbid curiosity that forced me to watch about ten minutes of the new Dallas earlier this week, of course my conscience forbade such foolishness and I went for the last best hope for peace in our time.
Herein lies my problem, for while I do not regret voting for Obama last time round, I do feel so very foolish for allowing myself to get sucked in to a fabricated myth. I am normally such a cold and cynical person about all things political for although I at times approach a junkie in a poppy shop on 'Free Poppy Friday' come election time, I still have a health skepticism for any person who puts themselves forward for office, seeking to act on our behalf and in our best interests. I automatically question their motives and assume at best a dangerous narcissism and at worst an outright corruption, all borne by twenty-one years of direct empirical evidence at the ballot box and in its immediate aftermath.
I was swept away by the Obama myth. An African-American outsider not afraid to be an intellectual in a wasteland of faux-folksy-awe-shucks types all desperate to show they weren't any smarter than you in the hope you would vote for them because gee-whizz wouldn't you just love to have a beer with them while the world around you slowly sank into a pit of its own regurgitated filth. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! I donated, I voted and then in those joyous heady days of victory, I travelled over to DC along with a million other people to see history be made, to see the world change.
But of course it didn't, it stayed exactly the same.
Four years later Guantanamo is still open for business, Blackwater mercenaries still blaze around Iraq on taxpayer-funded killing sprees, the CIA-installed puppet regime in Afghanistan still grows rich on the poppy-harvest that directly destroys the fabric of my city on a daily basis, the plutocrats of Wall Street are richer now than at any time in history and were I to be actually resident in the US my civil liberties would be even more eroded than they were under the Cheney regime.
Even if I did still believe in Obama the sad fact is that my vote is genuinely meaningless. I vote in Connecticut, a solid Democrat state, There is no doubt that come November 6th the state will light up deep blue on CNN's holographic touch screen of doom and the presence or absence of my vote will make little difference at all, even if it actually managed to be counted. The peculiarities of the US electoral system mean that the President is decided not by the actual number of votes counted, but by the TV networks determining the winner on the basis of their exit polls, the election is won or lost before a single vote is ever counted (unless you mess up in Florida and have tap your buddies in the Supreme Court on the shoulder and remind them who gave them their jobs), moreover oversees votes aren't actually counted until many, many days after the election is over (if at all), though at least oversees voters get to vote on an actual piece of paper so there is a physical record of their vote when and if it is counted.
So why did I send away for my ballot paper?
Because while Obama may be the lesser of two evils, the greater of two evils is a nightmare of biblical proportions that were he to win, and I had not made at least a token effort to prevent it, I don't think I could look myself in the face, and I certainly couldn't spend the next four years on my high horse complaining about it.
That doesn't mean Obama will necessarily get my vote this time round, it may be a two-party system but that doesn't mean there aren't third party candidates out there. None have a snowball's chance in hell, but if my vote is nothing more than a meaningless protest vote then at least I might as well feel slight less dirty as I cast it.