Peter Risatti: The paradox of effective voting
For 34 years, throughout my police career, I voted as an independent. My reasoning was a nonpartisan position could not be associated with being politically biased. It worked. I have learned the political affiliations we create in our lives influence our decisions, our social relationships and our quality of life. Certain beliefs we adhere to through our environment and experiences will form our ideology.
As an independent, it was easier to read the newspaper and whenever a political scandal erupted, it was nice not to have the affiliation. I also learned that "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," one-party rule is just that. A two-party system is the watchdog that keeps the wolves at bay. The rules of hierarchy in politics dictate that second best is not in control but they are looking for the event that will put them in control. Control, is the goal for political gain.
There are several political parties, with only two giants in the room. Hardly a giant in Massachusetts, the Republicans are 11 percent of the voters. Democrats are 39 percent and independent noncommittal voters account for 50 percent. About half of everything that happens in life from relationships, work, religion and politics is noncommittal. When we read this, we reject the premise that noncommittal voting is lacking responsibility and deference to good government. Studying voters around us we can analyze how committed they are and for what duration, it is usually dependent on needs, their needs. In other words, continuing the same process without getting our hands dirty. Assessing the government we get is the parody of effective voting.
Sitting on a fence makes it is easier to switch pastures if the grass looks a little greener in the other fellow’s yard. The problem arises when the grass can look greener but the eventual flavor might not be of our liking. The political parties have figured this and just rely on the independents to be very fickle. Raise the "Problem du Jour" and see how many take the bait without research. They raise the premise of a "War on Women" knowing the fickle vote is not one of reason, mostly spontaneity. The independent vote empowers Democratic control, as 61 percent of Massachusetts voters cannot stand united.
It is not a wonder that so many government programs are never terminated after decades of substantiated failure. Fifty percent of the voters are not committed to eliminating corruption. The benefits of voting non-committal are minimal and for influencing governmental change. When the outcome depends on a fickle opinion how strong can it be?
Change should come about only when there are two closely viable entities vying for the same control. The only thing that disrupts government more is the apathetic nonvoter, the epitome of a depressed government, "You can’t blame me, I didn’t vote." Now, is that a convoluted conclusion?
Inspiration for change would be new candidates, with 11 percent participation there is little incentive. Primaries are the tickle processes we use; enough agitation from a loud ideology and the platform of the party will change. Why? The apathetic nonvoter relinquishes and the fickle voter guarantees the process. How many people know what an independent voter actually has for benefits? Only one, I know of, they can determine what primary they vote in. Some consider it two chances of eliminating the candidate they do not want to run against the person they want to win. I’ve never heard it was successful.
The independent’s voting ballot is the same as everyone’s in the general election, with the same choices. Independents alone, voting without commitment, may readily be part of the problem and not the solution. Apathetic voters are suppressed not to vote by choice.
So, there we have it, apathy and fickleness determine our governmental process and then we criticize the result. How many think it was a hard fought, honest campaign that brought us our leadership? Wouldn’t it be nice?
Peter Risatti is a former military and police officer.