Friday, November 2, 2012

I Found Democracy!!!

Throughout most of my teenage years, I have been apathetic about politics. It has long since been my opinion, that corporate sponsorship of politicians has more or less destroyed democracy. Politicians never seemed to care about the topics they were discussing, they seemed like actors repeating well-rehearsed lines written by their analysts, played out on a stage, in a drama directed by their corporate sponsors.

For the past few months, I have found myself laughing condescendingly at everyone getting all caught up in the presidential election fever. Before one of the Obama vs. Romney debates, I posted the following on Facebook, “spoiler alert: they are both lying”. That sentence about sums up my feelings toward the whole “game.” I had no intention of voting.

Two weeks ago, I watched a three-part PBS series called “Commanding Heights.” It compared and contrasted the two competing economic theories of the 20th century, centrally planned economy vs. free market economy. This was the first time I had encountered economic theories in my life, and seen how they played out in the countries that implemented them. Now considering myself a “well educated and informed” expert on economic theory, having graduated the prestigious PBS school of economics, I decided to see what Obama and Romney were saying about the economy.

I watched the debates, read up on their respective opinions, and concluded that Romney had his head on straight in terms of the economy. However, I hated almost everything else he stood for. I disliked his views on stem cell research, mentioning god at public events, censorship, LGBT rights, and medical marijuana. I tried to see if perhaps, anyone could justify Obama’s economic policies, but to no avail. I found myself caught between two worlds. In addition, I still could not shake from myself the distrust that I had always felt towards politicians. The lying, the falsely portrayed passion for topics that they did not actually care about, all of those feelings were still there. Additionally, I found the debates very stale and lifeless; there was very little overlap between what people normally discussed and what the candidates were proposing. The whole debate seemed very one-sided, with no real new ideas. I still felt undecided, but I was leaning toward Romney.

In the wake of the recent hurricane, my school cancelled all of my classes, so I found myself randomly surfing YouTube listening to random lectures. I was watching a speech by Penn Jilette at Google when I noticed on the side another clip of him, this time discussing politics so I clicked on it. Two things really stuck out from that interview. 1. In game theory (I know nothing about it, so I can’t say that I know this is true) choosing the lesser of two evils always increases evil. 2. He introduced me to the Libertarian party. He described it as having a right wing economic policy with a left wing social policy (“make a right on economy, a left on sex, and head straight to utopia.”) After hearing him, I decided that rather than support the lesser of the two evils (Romney,) I would watch the “other” presidential debate, between the Green, Justice, Constitutional and, Libertarian parties.
The most refreshing thing I discovered in the debate was a real passion for what happened to America. There was a certain idealistic fervor, which sharply contrasted the other debate. There was audience participation; cheering and booing were fine. Democracy was alive, the people cared, and I loved it. New ideas were discussed, well they were not really, new ideas, I have heard most of these ideas in the past from friends, or read about them. It was new to see politicians discussing them in the public forum; it was exciting to see presidential candidates discussing these “new” ideas. It was refreshing to hear presidential candidates discussing the very problems that I have had with politics for years. They spoke about not allowing corporations to make political contributions, not allowing political action committees and limiting terms in congress.

There was another thing that they had that was lacking in the other debates, a certain informality, which allowed the focus to be on the ideas, not the people. Very little of “Mr this ” “Congressman that” it was almost all on first name basis. There was conversation, instead of speeches. There were ideas, not rehearsed party lines. Regular people were asking the question, through Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

The single greatest line I heard was from the libertarian candidate Gary Johnson “…wasting your vote, is voting for someone you don’t believe in, that’s wasting your vote…” and with that, I changed my mind. I liked that so much that I checked up on him, and his policies and I am considering voting for him for two reasons. Firstly, he meshes what I feel, is the best of the democratic and republican parties. Secondly, he seems passionate and honest, two qualities which are sincerely lacking in the mainstream candidates. As a disclaimer, I am still trying to understand the “Fairtax” which he is proposing, so I am not yet one hundred percent sure that I will vote for him.

In conclusion, if you, like me are feeling that something is lacking in the mainstream candidates, please go and check out the alternatives. If you feel that, why should I vote for him? It’s not like he is going to win. My response to you is this, firstly if enough people feel as I do, he just might. Secondly, voting is not betting on the right candidate so that you can tell all of your friends “I knew he was going to win.” It is not a sports team that you support because you think they will win the World Series. It is a chance to voice your opinion; it is a chance for you to tell America what you think. I will grant you that he probably will not win, but I will be part of a vocal minority if I feel that they are correct. Should he lose, then at least we made some noise for the right cause, and maybe by next election, the noise will have become loud enough, the minority will have grown large enough, and America will at least know enough to make an educated decision.

Third party presidential debate:


  1. just curious,are you still a studend in Bobov?

    1. no, i am currently studying in brooklyn college. i left bobov after 8th grade.

  2. I agree! Johnson was my preferred candidate as well.
    However, its unfortunate, but I believe these candidates are so much more honest and real, is precisely because they don't have a chance of winning, and there main goal is as you said... to get the message accross- once they did make it to t he mainstream they'd probably change.
    Although to johnson's credit he didn't try too twist himself into a knot to get the republican nomination