Today is Election Day in the state where I currently live in and work. The roads are quite empty, for a change, and there is a subdued air all over. Of course, it is just the lull before the storm, which is going to hit come Counting Day. Most of my friends from this state are out for the day, wielding their all-too-important Constitution-given rights to choose their leaders and casting their ballots. I opted to stay back in office and listen to a little light music instead. This turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in the last few days. Upon opening iTunes Radio, it played me a song called Royals from a New Zealand based singer-songwriter called Lorde. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it is still playing on loop.
But we digress. Personally, I have never been a big fan of politicians and their ilk, right from childhood. Then a few months ago, a chance encounter with a stranger in an airport lobby introduced me to the works of George Carlin. Without exaggerating, that changed my life forever. This wizened, world-weary man spoke the truth like no other, without fear or prejudice, and seemed to have all the right opinions on all the right matters. I was floored. Here was a man I could finally relate to.
Being the anti-establishment hellraiser that he was, it came as no surprise that Carlin never voted, at least in his later years. In his HBO special, Back In Town (1996), he explains his rationale behind ignoring all this political melodrama, with his characteristic scathing wit and sarcasm. His explanation works perfectly well for me and so I have gotten used to quoting it on multiple occasions, successfully. I have reproduced the transcript below for your perusal.
Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.
I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.