Special Edition: Election

October 22, 2008

With the 2008 Presidential Election looming, we felt it was time for a election podcast.  We kept this special edition podcast open and uneditied, so please excuse any strange volume levels or abrupt editing.  We’ve listened to it fully and can assure you, it’s quite listenable.  Enjoy!

Get Off Your Asses Or Elephants

October 20, 2008

Get off your asses. Or your elephants. I don’t really care. Sure, I would like you to be mobilized for my particular candidates and issues, but in the grand scheme of things, I believe more in the political process than I do about arguing over issues. I want people to be impassioned about their role in choosing their leaders and making their community the best place in which to live.

I grew up longing to vote. The year I turned 18 I missed a pretty major gubernatorial vote by a matter of weeks. I knew all the Schoolhouse Rock songs about politics by heart. All that, and I never really considered myself patriotic. A lot of the time, I didn’t even respect my country as a force in the world. But I always felt that voting was not simply a right, but a duty that, even the greatest of dissenters should partake of in order to make their voices heard.

As a Florida voter, I have seen some fiery elections in my short voting history. An absentee voter in 2000, I single handedly held up the election of our president. I’ve seen bullet trains added to our constitution and the rights of pigs protected. And still, I want to get out and vote.

As an avid voter, I find it shocking when a friend tells me she or he isn’t registered to vote. I count my friends as fairly intelligent, most of whom have jobs where they are focused on service to the less fortunate. The feeling of apathy that these friends feel towards voting won’t change if candidate x is elected senator or if bill c passes. Like many other things in life (the Quarter Life Crisis included) it is hard to care about something until you are directly affected by it. Until you are dropped from your health insurance and need to find coverage, until you fall in love with someone of the same sex and find yourself unable to adopt children, until your best friend is shipped off to Iraq…

Being a QuarterLifer means that you have the burden, but also the opportunity to hammer out how you feel about life. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind down the road. Over the last ten years I’ve certainly changed how I feel about capital punishment, market economies, and climate change intervention. But being able to discuss and debate politics with anyone, of any age or leaning, is one of the few times in life that the generational walls are really broken down. I’ve been able to talk politics with professors, employers (careful with that one), and even my grandfather. Simply staying uninformed and apathetic is not an option.

I get it, it’s intimidating. Talking to people when you feel like you don’t really know how you feel about an issue, or not feeling like you have enough information to hold your ground in a heated debate is threatening. But during a time when we feel like we have so little control over the rest of our lives, this is an easy area to cling to. Start small. Call your local election headquarters (and yes, I will be at my Democratic headquarters) to see what you can do to help out. You don’t have to start by knocking on doors. Most places will be happy to have you stuff envelopes or answer phones. By taking the first step, you can get started in solidifying how you feel on issues, learning how the system works, and making sure that your voice truly is heard. A few hours a week can make all the difference to a candidate running for the first time or to people who didn’t know the registration deadline was approaching.

Now, here is the hard sell. You’ve only got a few weeks left. There is still time to get involved. Even if you aren’t interested in the big show, your local candidates effect what goes on directly in your life. On your day off, just go. Go to the Obama headquarters or the Nader camp or see if Bob Barr needs some help. Go look into Amendment 2 in Florida or 8 in California and make some calls from the comfort of your home reminding people to vote “NO!”  At the very least, take a look at The Daily Kos or Andrew Sullivan to expand your knowledge of what is going on out there.

Get off your asses and make a difference. Not for your country, but for you. No one can ever say that the knowledge that you gained is worthless. But first, you have to get off your ass.

Weekly Quarterlife Links

October 20, 2008

Yes Man for President in 2008!

October 20, 2008

You, my presumably informed dear reader, are undoubtedly aware that our nation is on the cusp of presidential election. Illinois Senator Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate, and Senator John McCain is the Republican candidate. The Democratic National Convention is taking place in Denver, Colorado, as I am drafting this article. The GOP invades Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, for its rah-rah sis boom bah only days after I have finished this fine piece of literature.

Here at Quarterlives.com, the urge to abstain from commentary on the political process is now officially abandoned. Politics and civics are a significant aspect of our lives because it identifies whom we are as a country, for better or worse. As unofficial flag bearers for a large sector of the voting population known as “Twentysomethings,” it is our responsibility to jump on the hot topic bandwagon, and generate discussion amongst ourselves.

“Politics” makes for an interesting conversation topic among family and friends. Spirited discussions abound about how our country should be improved, and who the person should be to improve it. Which party has the better ideas, Democrats or Republicans, Liberal Weenies or Right Wing Nut Jobs? Elections have significant impact on our lives. It reminds us that the citizenry must choose a path for ourselves, and prioritize our most important social issues. Whether we actually resolve our social problems is a whole different ball of wax.

However, with every presidential election, I find myself wondering the same things time after time: what do I stand for? What do other people my age stand for? What social issues bother me? What issues should be bothering me? Why not let some one else fix it? Why worry at all? How much does my vote really matter? Would my vote have more significance if I lived in Florida? Should I associate with any one at the polls named Chad?

My attention to politics has dwindled lately because I currently live along the Canadian Border. My geographical location tends to eliminate a few of the problems facing most Americans. There aren’t too many Canadians trying to illegally penetrate the US northern border, and the Canucks are too damn friendly to surmount any type of a serious military threat. I am fairly certain that International Falls is low on the list of terrorist strike points. Crime rate? It consists of drunk driving arrests and citations for too many walleye. What about marriage rights? It is hard to identify homosexual lifestyles here because the overwhelming majority of people, both male and female, like wearing plaid or camouflage, and enjoy hunting while wearing it. But all joking aside, there are many issues that our country is confronted with: the economy, the skirmish in Iraq, energy production, tort reform, health insurance, home foreclosures, etc.

I tend not to associate myself with the ass or the pachyderm. I rarely, if ever, share political thoughts with former classmates, friends or family. I generally avoid conversations that have politics as the focal point. This is probably peculiar for a person that took political science for his college major, and then went on to graduate law school.

I currently clerk for a District Court Judge. When there is snow on the ground, or the temperatures remain consistently at 30 degrees or less, I put on my referee equipment for ice hockey. I watch sporting events without cheering for a particular team, and often times will be more focused on the officiating. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate against people’s political views. I am about as neutral as a chocolate-making Swiss nationalist.

So what are my political views? I am not sure. If I have developed opinions about any issues my stances are not set in stone, and are subject to remolding at any time. Hypocritical you say? Maybe. But I could probably be lumped in with most Americans that are “in the middle.” As a “middler” I believe that the economy sucks worse than a Shop-Vac and Iraq is the sunnier, drier version of Vietnam. We middlers are the group that our presidential candidates desperately seek to sway in their direction hours before the polls close. We are the politically undefined who have the power to shape our country’s future. Middlers tend to like some of what Barack has got and a little of what John has got.

However, despite the significance and importance of our President, I have a large problem with presidential candidates and the selection process. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chief Diplomat and Chief Executive. It is the sole responsibility of the President to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. But my question is when the hell did it become so important for presidents to decide that they need to be the people’s chief legislator? I thought it was the responsibility of Congress to conduct the brain storming and law formulation for our country, to decide what the priorities of our country are and how best to fix the most pressing problems. The president is supposed to be a Yes Man for Congress. So, in my opinion, this presidential election is about who is the better Yes Man between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Does a Yes Man really need a platform? To me, the election for President is no different than an election for county auditor. May the best Yes Man win.

Don’t get me wrong- political views and agendas are needed in our country. We need ideas and people who can get those ideas into executable laws that benefit the entire nation, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic class, and whatever other type of social label entitled to be placed in this sentence. I think politics belong in the legislature. It is why we have the legislature. It is the melting pot of ideas.

But in order to get the laws onto paper and to the all important Yes Man for their execution, we must vote for those individuals who have the ideas for the laws. It is our responsibility to vote for this person so that our country may continue to thrive or survive. We have to identify those political candidates whose platforms are best tailored to serve our social demands. And it is with this parting thought that I ask you Quarterlifers out there in Internet land two questions: (1) What are the most pressing issues facing Twentysomethings today? And (2) who are the best political figures to represent our interests?