12 July, 2004


I had intended a more interesting (I thought) rant today, but this one popped into my head, and so I'll entertain you (my nonexistent readership) with it while I mull over the former. (Honestly, I must stop with these expository introductions... highly distracting, don't you think? Next time, I'll just launch into the thing...)

Yesterday I was walking my bike home after getting my freewheel mechanism removed at Broadway Bikes, and I happened past a bit of tastefully done sidewalk graffiti. It was visually inoffensive, done in pastel sidewalk chalk with round, friendly letters, and it read, "Please Vote". I was immediately gripped by a sudden, convulsive urge to find some chalk and write a response. I began composing text in my head: "Please provide me a candidate worth voting for," "Please reform the electoral process," or maybe simply inserting "don't" between the two words. But, no, it would have taken a dissertation, and there wasn't enough space on the sidewalk. Besides, on the next block I found it again, "Please Vote", and I was hardly going to write out my dissertation twice.

It's such a simple appeal: two words, but the subtext is absolutely clear. It's important for you, a Citizen of these United States, to Participate in the Democratic Process, because that's What Makes This Country Good (Great?). But, my God, I thought (drawing from the deep well of cynicism within me) can people really believe that anymore? Hasn't the notion that politicians are a worthless breed - the spawn of vipers, all of them - universally penetrated our culture yet? Are there still pockets of hope and naivite that believe otherwise?

And then - my God, is democracy dead? And still further - did it ever exist in the first place?

But surely that's too cynical a position, even for me. No matter how corrupt it is, democracy is real; we have an affect on our public institutions. Our vote is a rein holding rampant abuse of power in check. Maybe it moulders and decays; maybe we, in turn, are more and more puppets, and the reins have been made to go slack. But it's still real... isn't it?

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