Tag Archives: Election

Why I’m Not Overly Excited About Voting

Vote

I’m bracing myself right now because I’m about to express a sentiment that’s going to put me at odds with a lot of people here in America. It’s a sentiment that runs contrary to some pretty loud rhetoric that has been brewing over the past two years. Some of it has even come from close family members. Knowing I’ll probably upset them too, I’ll just come out and say it.

I’m not that excited about voting.

I’ll give my fellow American’s a moment to stop fuming. For everyone else, I think a larger explanation is warranted. Bear with me because these are sensitive times for freedom, democracy, and everything in between.

Today, my country will conduct its mid-term election. It occurs every four years, right in between Presidential elections. These elections are a critical part of the foundation on which the United States government is built. These are the elections in which a sizable chunk of governors, senators, and representatives are elected.

While mid-term elections rarely generate the same voter turnout of Presidential elections, this year is different. The impact of the 2016 Presidential Election has galvanized the passions of both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives seek to maintain their hold on power. Liberals seek to re-establish power after some of the worst setbacks in recent memory. To them, the stakes are very high.

I’m not entirely convinced of that. In fact, I feel like those stakes are so inflated that it makes me feel even less excited about voting. I see people in the media, on message boards, and within political circles calling this election the most important mid-term in history. That makes me suspect they have a narrow concept of history.

Now, I don’t deny the sincerity of those who say stuff like this. I get that they’re genuinely concerned about the direction of the country they love. They have this ideal vision for how they want America to be and getting like-minded people to vote is part of realizing that vision. Whether it’s reigning in the President, outlawing abortion, or legalizing weed, they have a fantasy that they want to make reality.

As someone who writes a lot about the sexy kind of fantasies, I can appreciate that to some extent. When I was younger, I even entertained similar visions. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve become less enchanted by my country’s democratic processes. The reasons for that have less to do with the content of those visions and more to do with the unique quirks of American elections.

The first complications surrounding American democracy, and one that sets it apart from other democratic countries, is that we don’t elect the President by a popular vote. We use something called the Electoral College. Simply put, our votes don’t go towards who we want to be President. They go towards electing the people who go onto elect the President.

If that sounds confusing, then you’re starting to see why I’m skeptical about voting. The logic behind the Electoral College made sense 200 years ago when trying to ensure that heavily populated states didn’t gain too much power over all the others. A lot has changed in 200 years and I’m not just talking about the prevalence of powdered wigs.

Since I became eligible to vote, I’ve seen two of the past three Presidents get elected without winning the popular vote. That means the candidate that got the most votes did not win the election. Call me cynical, but that does not sound very democratic.

To be fair, the Electoral College applies only to the President. Other representatives like governors, senators, and mayors are elected by way of popular vote. While that is more democratic, on paper, the logistics still aren’t ideal. That’s due to additional factors like gerrymandering, a practice that dilutes democracy to the point of watered down light beer.

Simply put, it ensures that your vote only partially matters because you didn’t necessarily pick the candidate. The candidate picked you by making sure you lived in their voting district. It’s a big reason why incumbents have such high re-election rates. It doesn’t matter how voting trends change. All that matters is aligning districts with a certain type of voters.

It’s not quite on the same level as the phony elections conducted by dictators, but it sends a painfully clear message. No matter how passionate you are at voting, there’s a good chance that it has little bearing on the outcome. That doesn’t mean your vote is thrown away. It still counts. It just doesn’t matter and I’m not the only one who has reached this conclusion.

Most of the time, you live in an area where the overwhelming majority of people align themselves with a particular part of the political spectrum. Districts located in rural areas almost always vote conservative. Districts located in cities almost always vote liberal. That divide has only widened over the years, especially since I began voting.

Some of that goes beyond direct influences like gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics. None of those tactics would even work if not for the predictable psychology of the average voter. In a perfect world, every voter goes to the polls as an objective, impartial citizens who weighs the worth of every candidate. However, we live in an imperfect world full of many imperfect people.

According to analysis of past elections, most people adopt the voting patterns of their parents. It’s not a minor factor, either. By a substantial margin, your vote was mostly determined when you were still a kid. That’s not a flaw in the system as much as it is a flaw in perspective.

If you grow up in a conservative environment, then you’ll vote in accord with conservative candidates. The same applies if you live in a liberal environment. The area I live is pretty liberal, for the most part. I’ve seen the polls for my candidates. The outcome is pretty much a given, no matter how I vote.

On top of all that, and it’s more than enough to temper my enthusiasm for democratic processes, voting in America is extremely inconvenient. It’s not a national holiday. It’s on a Tuesday in the middle of the week and often involves standing in long lines at poorly-staffed polling places. Sure, you can cast an absentee vote, but that process has its own set of complications.

Taken together, I find it frustrating, as a voter. The older I get, the more resigned I’ve become. Each passing year, I see more and more flaws in the system. I see reprehensible human beings and shameless hypocrites win elections, time and again. I also see the list of candidates and groan at my lack of options.

Despite all this, I’m still told that voting is important. Voting is what separates us from tyranny. Ignoring the historical fact that some tyrants come to power through democracy, I’m supposed to believe that my vote will help further the ideals my country espouses. As much as I love my country, I just have a hard time believing that.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m pretty cynical about voting and the current democratic processes in place for the United States. I’m not completely resigned, though. I still intend to vote, but I’m under no illusions. I know it won’t change much in the grand scheme of things. Like renewing my driver’s license, it’s part of my civic duty.

Regardless of who wins and who gets voted out, I can already sense where this narrative will go from here. I have a feeling that as soon as this day passes, the 2020 Election will be subsequently billed as the most important election in history. Just like before, the act of voting will be framed as taking part in a battle against a fascist army led by Darth Vader and Joseph Stalin.

That narrative, in my opinion, will do more to undermine voting than help it in the long run. At the end of the day, elections come and go. Leaders change, politics evolve, and demographics shift the cultural landscape. Not every election will go down in history as the most important. The act of voting in those elections won’t matter that much in the long run. It’s still worth doing, but it’s also worth maintaining perspective along the way.

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Ted Cruz, Twitter Porn, And Why We Shouldn’t Make A Big Deal Of It

As a general principle, I don’t like mentioning certain politicians by name. That’s because to mention them is to give them more attention than they deserve and, as I’ve pointed out before, attention is the life blood of both the internet and the trolls that make it awful.

I only ever get specific once their propensity for bullshit reaches a level of absurdity and hilarity that both sides of the political spectrum can laugh out. That’s why I’ll drop names like Rick Santorum and Bernie Sanders. If they didn’t exist in real life, they’d probably exist as cartoon characters that Seth MacFarlane made up.

With that in mind, I have to say I’m shocked that I can add Ted Cruz to that list. In terms of politicians, there’s not much about him that makes him deserving of attention. He’s a cut-and-paste conservative republican who espouses everything you’d expect a guy who once called same-sex marriage a threat to liberty and makes one too many Nazi comparisons when he talks about health care.

It’s for that reason why nobody should be surprised that he’s as sex-negative as they come. While he was the solicitor general in Texas, he ardently defended a state ban on sex toy sales. He even went so far as to make this unsexy statement.

“There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”

Try to read that without cringing. I dare you. This is a man who honestly sided with people who believed in using taxpayer money and policing power to discourage people from touching their own bodies in ways they might enjoy. It’s enough to make the Ron Swanson in all of us fume.

Image result for Ron Swanson on government

It’s also for that very reason that nobody should be surprised that Ted Cruz just got himself into trouble by “accidentally” liking a porn video on Twitter. I put the word “accidentally” in quotes because it’s a loaded word in a situation where any word can turn into the dirtiest kind of innuendo. Since I prefer to save that sort of rhetoric for my novels, I don’t want to overdo it here.

Naturally, the idea of an uptight conservative republican who once argued for prohibitions on masturbation liking a porn video was like catnip for social media. Cruz is now the butt of a lot of crude humor and understandably so. It’s like catching a priest with a prostitute. It’s just inherently funny.

Now, as funny as this is and as detestable as Ted Cruz may be to anyone who enjoys stimulating their genitals, there’s a good chance the man may be completely innocent here. He has already gone on record as saying that a staffer managing his social media account liked the video and not him. Given how common that practice is among politicians, that’s the most likely scenario.

That doesn’t make situation any less hilarious, nor will it stop the onslaught of reactions from people calling Ted Cruz a hypocrite and a fraud. Given how much we, as a society, detest hypocrites, even from those from the non-political class, that’s understandable. Hypocrites are the epitome of everything that makes a human being unlikable.

However, in this case, I think the reactions to the hilarity may do more harm than good. Please don’t take that to mean I’m defending Ted Cruz, nor am I making excuses for him. I am not a big Ted Cruz fan. I would not vote for him to be my local dog catcher, let alone a politician of any standing.

That said, I’ve never met the man. I don’t know what he’s like outside of these ridiculous stories about the ridiculous things he says on the record. He might very well be a nice guy who only says what he says because his party’s platform involves decrying porn as a public health crisis. When the cameras go off, he may not really care much about the kinky stuff people do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

You could probably say the same about a lot of ardent conservatives like him, whose party gets a boatload of money from anti-sex, anti-porn, anti-fun organizations like the Family Research Council. What they say in public doesn’t always reflect what they believe in private.

Let’s not get too high and mighty here. If someone paid us enough money, then we would probably say all sorts of horribly unsexy things as well. I don’t deny that if someone gave me millions of dollars to only write novels that would appeal to Mormon clown enthusiasts, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Short of reading Ted Cruz’s mind or getting some private audio recordings that has him going on a Mel Gibson style rant about the evils of porn and masturbation, we have no way of knowing how he really feels about porn and sex. However, social media is still going to mock him as the ultimate hypocrite, right up there with Ted Haggard.

That, I feel, is a mistake because Ted Cruz is not Ted Haggard. Haggard got caught red-handed in a way he could not blame on a lazy staffer. In Cruz’s case, it’s very likely that this was just some staffer with too much free time, not enough coffee, and badly in need of a good orgasm. Attacking him for something he probably didn’t do makes us the assholes and not him.

There’s another more important reason why we shouldn’t make too big a deal about Cruz’s possible porn tastes and it goes beyond simply not being an asshole, an effort we should all value. There’s a time for mocking and a time for pointing out the hilarity of a situation, of which there are many. However, let’s not mistake mockery for an actual argument against the idea we find so abhorrent in the first place.

Mocking Ted Cruz does not make an effective argument against his regressive attitudes towards sex, porn, and all things fun in this world. Mockery outside of a “South Park” or “Rick and Morty” rerun never adds any kind of meaningful insight to an issue. Sure, it’s funny, but that’s the extent of the contribution.

For someone like Ted Cruz, who still wields real power and has real influence over public policy, mocking him isn’t going to change his mind about anything. If anything, it may make him that much more eager to send police into peoples’ houses to make sure they’re not pleasuring themselves. People get unreasonable when they’re mocked, especially when it’s not warranted.

Whether or not Ted Cruz genuinely believes his party’s platform on sex, porn, and minorities is beyond the point. At some point, just being an asshole to someone who likely didn’t have any role in an incident, other than having his name attached to it, helps nobody. It just gives Ted Cruz more reason to despise his opponents and not listen to them.

That’s the biggest reason why this whole ordeal with him liking a porn video on Twitter is already overblown and need not be an indictment on all things Ted Cruz. Instead of actually pointing out to Ted Cruz how regressive, harmful, and unproductive his attitudes are, people are taking the easier path and mocking him instead.

That approach is every bit as asinine as anything Ted Cruz has been part of. In fact, I dare you to find any person of power that ever changed their mind because of mockery. Men like Cruz should be challenged, but part of that process involves actually respecting them enough understand their situation. That’s harder for certain people, especially politicians who are beholden to donors.

It’s hard, frustrating, and not nearly as funny, but when our sex lives are at stake, I think it’s worth enduring. It might not be possible to persuade a man like Ted Cruz that his attitudes towards sex are wrong, but by being assholes about it, we’re doing a disservice to those who can be persuaded and for all the right reasons. In the end, that benefits both our sex lives and political discourse.

 

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Happy Election Day! Now Go Vote!

I go out of my way to avoid politics on this blog. I’ll gladly discuss touchy social issues like feminism, sexual objectification, and religion, but I’ll pump the breaks the nanosecond that discussion gets too political. This isn’t an accident either. I avoid politics for the same reason I avoid hungry grizzly bears on crack. There’s just no way to discuss it rationally.

I used to talk a lot about politics. I even tried creating a few blogs to share my political views. Those blogs are now long gone and if they ever came back, I’d shoot them on sight because I’ve from experience that they’re a waste of time. Discussing politics on the internet is like trying to hammer a nail with a feather duster. It’s an unfit medium and an unfit tool for an ugly, unsexy topic.

All that said, politics is still a big part of our lives. It affects us whether we like it or not. In fact, you could argue that it affects those who don’t like it far more than those who do. Politics is like the dirty diapers of civilization. They’re ugly, they stink, and they need to be frequently changed. That’s exactly why citizens of democratic societies, like the United States, need to get out there and vote.

Today is Election Day. Today is the day where we elect the leaders who will guide the political discourse for the near-future. Say what you will about how unsavory politicians are. Make all the jokes you want about how they lie, cheat, and steal. Here, I’ll even post one.

Laugh all you want. It’s good to have a sense of humor during difficult times, but there’s a time for dirty jokes about virgin prostitutes and there’s a time for civic duty. I’m usually more intrigued by the former, but the latter is far more important on a day like this.

I’m not going to take a position on who you should vote for or what party you should vote for. I’m not even going to mention the names of any candidates. That’s just giving them more attention that they deserve and far more than they need at this point. You know their names. You know which party they belong to. You don’t need an erotica/romance writer adding to the chaos.

So please, my fellow Americans, go out there and vote! It may not be in my best interest to say this, but take a break from the sexier issues of life and do your civic duty. When all is said and done, reward yourself for participating in such an important process.

For me, after I vote, I intend to go home, take off all my clothes, turn up the heat, and read comics for the rest of the day while drinking hot chocolate. That’s as good a reward as I can give myself without getting a beautiful woman involved. Whatever reward you deem most fitting, use that as motivation. Use whatever you can to get out there and vote!

Say what you will about the inefficiencies of our government and our civilization as a whole. It only works if the people involved give enough of a crap to participate. This is your chance to show that you matter. Go for it and then reward yourself with something sexy afterwards. You’ll have earned it!

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Relax! The World Is Getting Better.

Let’s not lie to ourselves. For those of us in America, the 2016 Presidential Election feels like a prolonged prostate exam without lube and delivered by Andre the Giant while wearing a boxing glove. In my adult life (and my non-adult life, for that matter), I’ve never become so disillusioned by democracy. The comic book fan in me wants to elect Dr. Doom over any of these choices.

For the non-comic book fans out there, Dr. Doom is seen as one of the most devious villains in the history of comics. He is the alpha and omega of all that is evil. I know this. I understand this. I have no problem saying that I’d still vote for him over the two deep-fried turds we have running this year.

It’s a sad, solemn state for this country that I love. I know we’re a walking joke of hillbillies, rednecks, hippies, and PETA supporters that the rest of the world can easily make fun of, but I really do love this country. I really love being an American. Where else can a comic book fan who writes erotica/romance in his spare time feel at home?

I’m not going to lie though. I’m scared about the election tomorrow. We, the citizens of the United States of America, may vote to give nuclear weapons to someone who may just use them because someone made a bad joke on Twitter. That is fucking terrifying.

While fear is going to make me wake up early to cast my vote, I do try to maintain at least some sense of optimism. I emphasize the word try because that’s pretty damn hard these days. We live in an era where anyone can sit down on a bench, take out their phone, and search for every form of obscure fetish porn. If you can find fetish porn, then you can find some news story that says the world is going to hell.

Just look at some of the news stories that come out of Florida. They’ll make you wish you were born retarded lizard.

As a result of all this fear, frustration, and an ability to find anything on the internet that makes you horny, it’s easy to overlook the fact that things are actually getting better for the human race.

Seriously, it’s true. Things are getting better. People today are better of than their ancestors were 100 years ago. Hell, people are better off today than our ancestors were 25 years ago. Today, people have high speed internet, Netflix, and free porn. That’s objectively better than any era in history by default.

It’s not just our access to movies and porn that make life better though. Despite what certain political parties say at their convention, things are getting better in terms of crime, violence, and overall deviance. I know that’s hard to believe when Fox News shows a new story about minority protesters beating up babies every other hour, but the actual facts (an alien concept to most media these days) don’t bear that out.

Reason.com, a great site for keeping things in perspective if you can sift through the pro-marijuana articles written by stoners, did a great article a few years ago at just how much progress we’ve made as a species. Sure, there’s still poverty. There’s still violence. There’s still reality TV shows that won’t die. Overall though, it’s still pretty damn good.

For most of human history, kids didn’t live long enough to see their second birthday. A good chunk of the female population died in childbirth. The best modern medicine you could get involved leaches and herbs that tasted like shit. Men either toiled in fields or died on whatever battlefields the kings of the day decreed. It was not a pleasant life and not just because it had poor wi-fi.

Don’t believe me? Well, check out the facts for yourself. A site called HumanProgress.org compiles and tracks the data surrounding what we associate with human progress. You’ll find information on things like violence, infant morality, LGBT rights, hate crimes, and racial issues. You’ll also find information on economic issues (good for the insomniacs out there) that put a dollar sign on these issues.

That’s not to say that all trends are going in a positive direction. As I said before, humanity has room for improvement. We still kill each other over what we think happens when we die and fail to see the irony. There are things we do have to work on, but actual data should give us reasons to be hopeful.

For instance, here’s a chart that shows trends in violent crime since the early 1970s. It’s not going up. It’s going down. We’re not turning into a society right out of an old NWA music video. We’re getting a lot better at not shooting and raping each other. That’s a good thing in my book, or anyone’s book for that matter.

 

Then, there’s this little tidbit about children. That’s another issue that should be completely apolitical. We love children and we don’t like seeing them die because of preventable causes. For most of human history, countless children did die because of diseases, disasters, and circumstances we couldn’t do shit about. Well, things have changed. We’ve gotten better at saving the lives of children. In fact, we’ve gotten a lot better.

It’s not just crime and health that are improving either. These may be objective statistics, but if anyone has learned anything about the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s that nobody gives a half-fart about statistics and facts. We go with our feelings, no matter how wrong or misguided they may be.

That can be pretty troubling, the idea that we humans can’t accept the fact that the world is getting better and are doomed to always dread the future. While it is troubling, it’s also inaccurate because things are getting better in the most subjective sense possible: happiness.

That’s right. People are actually happier today than they were 25 years ago. Sure, happiness is one of the most subjective feelings in the world, right up there with tastes in food, movies, and sexual fetishes. It’s still one of the most valuable measures we have towards gauging the state of the human condition and it is getting better.

We’re happier. We’re healthier. We’re more equal, free, and prosperous than we’ve ever been at any time in human history. That, by any measure, is something to be thankful for. It’s something to celebrate.

Now it’s entirely possible that the results of the election tomorrow could reverse all these trends, but baring a nuclear war, that’s very unlikely. This is where caveman logic really works in our favor. When we humans find something that works for us, we tend to stick to it and do everything we can to keep doing it. Again, there’s room for improvement, but we’re making progress.

We’re kicking ass as a civilization. We’re becoming more advanced, more tolerant, and more prosperous. We should all celebrate that, election or not. I’ll celebrate with a glass of whiskey and some of my favorite romance/erotica novels. I encourage everyone to celebrate as well.

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