In the midst of Facebook battles that popped up like spinning plates and the crushing volume of pundits, predictions, and pollsters, I stopped and thought to myself "it is all worth it?"
I love democracy. Not so much for the opportunity to pull a lever or check a box on a Diebold machine, but rather the opportunity for good ideas. The problem with dictators or protected regimes is that they retain the same ideas and schemes, without challenge, until one of their inner circle decide they have a better idea (and this idea is not quashed by firing squad). Democracy, almost as a by-product, allows good ideas to follow catalyst by catalyst, up the governing chain from the Eureka to the statute books. It is a tough line, and many ideas are quashed by much less violent means of suppression, but the possibility is always available.
Good ideas don't have party labels. That's what makes elections so disappointing. They take all of us, and all of our interesting, discrete, diverse, complicated, brilliant ideas, and turn this collective universe into checked boxes. And that's the rub, really. That's what divides us. If I'm a universe of ideas and you're a universe ideas, we will have to talk for a good while before we find a point of conflict, and normally that conflict will be so obscure or not completely in opposition, so that the conversation can move on OR, more importantly, find an area of consensus.
BUT, when I say I'm for Candidate A, or suggest that Candidate A is being unfairly maligned, and you are for Candidate B, well there's an easy conflict for the picking. Rush into it full bore. I am a proxy for Candidate A, who you otherwise don't get an opportunity to speak with, and you want to give him a piece of your mind!
That's why politics are discouraged at the dinner table. The subject has been stripped of its noble ideas and method for conveying the same in order to provide fodder for the masses. A depository for anger, hurt, pain, and disappointment. This anger follows the roots back to Candidate A - "If you don't feel your ideas are being listened to, it isn't because they are bad ideas, its because they are being suppressed by Candidate A and his followers."
That's why I get Independents (and/or Unaffiliated voters). They don't want you to know which Candidate they may support. It's not because of cowardice or weakness. They just don't want to put up with your crap. They would rather be seen as a universe of brilliant ideas. Don't we all?
We should feel empowered by the right to vote. Voting is power. But as with all exercises of power, this is a delicate game. Anger and resentment should probably be expected. This is not touch football. I guess all I hope is that voting is seen in context. A snapshot of the universe at a particular moment in time; never quite finding a perfect fit into the limited confines of a ballot.