This fall, my state is forcing me to participate in the great all-American either-or fallacy: In order to vote in the presidential primary, I have to register as a Democrat or Republican.
What if I don't want to vote for either party? What if I want to vote for what I believe rather than for some "platform" cobbled together by people I don't know and don't trust? What if I want to vote for the planet rather than a person? Or for the interests of future generations rather than my own?
What if I don't want to be labeled?
My hunch is that the candidates--the best of them, anyway--don't like this bipartisan system, either. But in American politics, only two trains pull out, and if you're not on one of them, you're left standing at the station.
Here's what really scares me. Supposedly, there's a balance of power in American government among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Supposedly, they keep each other in check. But in reality, there's now a fourth power in politics, one that permeates the whole process but, like dark matter in the universe, is invisible to the naked eye: the power of the Parties. Party leadership, who are not accountable to anyone except themselves and their own vested interests, make decisions of monumental importance.
Watergate should have been a warning to us. And what about the strange, disproportionate power of Dick Cheney?
By voting for my preferred candidate, I’ll be inadvertently supporting a system that is subverting everything my vote stands for. My vote will be tinged by the proverbial red or blue of party politics and possibly rendered meaningless by the antiquated electoral college system. But it is my vote, my little voice, and the only thing worse than having it rendered meaningless by others would be not to cast it at all.