Vote or Don't Vote
It's slightly less than a full year before the next presidential election (although it seems like they've been running forever), and people are getting ready to cast their votes in the national primaries. To prepare you for the voting season, I've assembled a little guide to help you choose whether you should vote or not, and (if you're undecided) how you should vote.
Step 1: Determine if your vote will help determine the outcome of the election. If it does, go to Step 2. If it doesn't, go straight to Step 3.
Your vote will help determine the outcome if (1) you are voting in a primary; or (2) you are voting in the general election and live in a swing state (Warning: some research is required here).
With respect to (1), this is your one and only surefire chance to vote for someone you actually like, because once you get to the general election, you might have to pick between a giant douche and a turd sandwich (see South Park Epidode 808).
With respect to (2), you are the swing voter, and you have all the power. You're the one the candidates are really sucking up to! You're the belle of the ball, mofo! You should take that power and laugh maniacally all the way to the polls. Alternatively, if you have no political convictions whatsoever, consider selling your vote to someone in another state who has been deprived of the ability to actually swing an election. (Disclaimer: I'm not advocating this, since it is illegal; rather I'm using it as an example to illustrate the real value of your vote in monetary terms.) Either way, consider yourself lucky, citizens of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Step 2: You should vote. Determine what method you should use to pick your candidate.
There are many ways to choose a candidate. Most people pick the candidate that looks really dreamy, or sounds good, or seems honest. This is a bad way to pick candidates, because politicians are like actors who all want to win an Oscar. They could have lots of talent and versatility, but you really wouldn't know since they all try to play the same character. You know, the one that will win them the award. For actors, it's the tried and true "abnormal psych" role (see Rain Man, Forrest Gump, Silence of the Lambs, Shine, as Good as it Gets, etc). For politicians, it's channeling JFK or Ronald Reagan. So don't vote by personality. Instead pick one of the following:
(1) Vote your self-interest. Besides directly linking your vote to your own welfare, voting your self interest will make it easier for politicians to figure out what you want. So if you're poor and don't ever want to work, vote for John Edwards. If you plan to be very rich fairly soon, vote for Rudy Guliani, whose economic advisor is the patron saint of the flat-tax, Steve Forbes. Studies have shown that Americans typically don't vote their self-interest, and that fact really confounds the class warfare techniques used by politicians, who then have to resort to much worse distinctions, such as religion, race, and fear, to get votes. Don't let them get away with that. Vote your wallet.
(2) If you have no interest in your own self-interest (you altruistic bastard!), then become a one issue voter. It's clear, direct, and again, will make things easier for the candidates. If you absolutely hate everything Bush ever did, vote for Kucinich in the primaries, since he's the only one who's consistently pushed for impeachment and troop withdrawal. If you didn't agree with the war, but don't like socialism, vote for Ron Paul, who's the only Republican who unequivocally trashes the war. If you want to have a more conciliatory foreign policy, vote for Obama, who wants to make friends with everyone. If you're itching for an extra wife or two, vote for Romney. But remember: pick an issue that the president really has some power over, i.e., one that has to do with foreign policy, taxes, federal law, or appointment of Supreme Court justices. Don't expect the president to find you a job, even though they all promise you one.
(3) If you have no opinions concerning the first two methods, vote for a system change. If you believe that a real democracy shouldn't be ruled over by the same two families over a period of 20 years, don't vote for Hillary Clinton. If you want a revitalization of federalism, vote for Paul. If you want a uniter and not a divider, probably vote for Romney (I'm assuming he must be pretty good at that to win in Massachusetts as a Mormon Republican -- please correct me if I'm wrong). Point is, if you have no political beliefs, then vote for what you think the president should be, rather than what he/she should believe.
Step 3: Your vote will not help determine the outcome of the election. Decide whether you have any secondary reasons to vote. If you do, vote. If you don't, then why bother?
Sorry, but your vote won't count. . . towards the election, that is! But your vote could still matter in other ways. Some of these might be: (1) to piss someone off (my favorite); (2) as a protest; (3) to get funding or recognition for a third party; (4) to impress a girl; (5) to avoid verbal abuse from friends and family; or last but not least (6) to have a reason to leave work early.
If none of these reasons appeals to you, then don't vote. Don't vote and be proud. Don't let those self-righteous pricks tell you what to do. But I leave you with this advice: be prepared to explain why you didn't vote. If you can explain to your detractors that there's no way your vote would have made a difference because your state always goes 7o% in one direction, and that you had no secondary motives, all they can do is bluster and grumble, and argue disingenuously that you should waste your valuable time standing in line for nothing. Then they're the dopes that don't know anything, not you.
Or you could just lie and say you voted. That's what the candidates would do, after all.