We, the people …

My father doesn’t vote, which irritates me a little and yet he’s one of the few exceptions to my ‘fuck you if you don’t vote’ rules. Dad’s a Socialist/Communist sort of guy, and American Politics aren’t his thing. That and he lives in Japan right now, so I’m okay with him not voting. Ex-patriots don’t have to vote. That includes you, Johnny Depp.

I vote every time we’re supposed to vote, because if I don’t speak up and take part in the flawed process, it may be taken away. Given how fucked up the process is right now, I get a lot of people bitching about how votes don’t count, and look at Florida.

Well, yeah. I’m right there with them. The voting process (and this is not a democratic process, it’s a republic, moving on) is fucked to the gills. There’s problems with recording votes, there’s problems with counting them, punching holes … You name it, we’ve got the problems. The current future is electronic voting, but given the problems with have viruses taking down ATMs and servers as is, people are nervous about that. And yet people aren’t nervous about handing their ballots over to total strangers. Makes you wonder. Still, for e-votes, if there’s no mechanism in place for verifying the legitimacy of the votes, and there’s no paper trail, then you can’t actually have reliable elections.

I was tempted to digress at this point and mention how many of us trust the net with our credit cards and personal information, and how that leads to identity theft, and with that theft people could pull a Chicago and vote for you. But I think you get the idea with that sentence, so why bother?

At my office we vote on things by phone. You call a number, type in your ID number, Social Security, and then press the number for your vote. There’s no way to make sure I actually did vote, though, since everyone can get anyone’s ID number off our phone book, and an SSN is easy to find.

In 2000, problems with ballots, equipment, voter registration and polling places were to blame for the 4 million to 6 million uncounted votes. We’re about to try this again, and northing’s really improved.

This leads us back to an important question. Why vote at all?

Okay, there are the normal reasons. “Make a difference!” “Rock the vote!” “Have an opinion!” But those all sound like crap, don’t they? I only have one reason to vote, and it’s pretty simple.

A right that is not stood up for and defended can be taken away.

Don’t believe me? Look at the so-called Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gave sweeping new powers to both domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies and eliminated the checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that such powers were not abused. Most of these checks and balances were put into place after previous misuse of surveillance powers by these agencies were uncovered including the revelation in 1974 that the FBI and foreign intelligence agencies had spied on over 10,000 U.S. citizens, including Martin Luther King.

In other words, our government took away some of our rights. Our civil liberties have been reduced with this law, especially the right to privacy in our on-line communications and activities. Like people who can be arrested for writing a blog. As best as I can see, there was no evidence that our previous civil liberties posed a problem to the tracking or prosecution of terrorists! There was nothing we were doing that was making it harder for the government to catch people. The government made no showing that the previous powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on U.S. citizens were insufficient to allow them to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism.

And the worst thing about this is an on-line friend of mine informed me her classmates were pulled in by the US Secret Service because one of them made a crack on a blog that people become automatically famous for killing people, and maybe he should kill Bush. And if you’re the Secret Service and you’re reading this, I don’t personally advocate murder as a solution to the problems I see with Bush.

No. I vote.

I’ll be voting against Bush in November. And even if you’re voting for him, that’s okay. So long as you get off your ass and get to the polling place and vote. If you don’t vote, then you don’t get heard. If you don’t vote, you lose your rights.

Vote. It’s not that hard.