OMG I actually voted but I didn't like the candidates

With maybe the exception of Kanye.

To be honest, I don’t think my vote matters very much. My vote counts a lot less than someone from Wyoming. Furthermore California always goes for the Democrat. So even if I wanted to vote for a non-Democrat, the winner-take-all system means that any vote to a non-Democrat is basically a wasted vote.  Hence my antipathy towards voting in 2016 (I didn’t vote). But this year is different! For starters, I am in the country. And secondly, I want to actually make some kind of voice heard, even if ultimately it won’t be.

Kanye 2020? Photo: David Shankbone/Wikipedia. Licensed under CC

Politically I never really aligned with any party, except for my brief stint in admiration of the Conservatives and the House of Lords during my undergraduate days at the Royal Holloway. That has slowly changed though. For one, I was raised in a Republican family with many views that one could call ‘received’ economic thought. I now call these views bullshit. As a result close friends think that I am inching ‘left’, but actually, I don’t think I ever truly fit into the political dichotomy of left-and-right. Take for example the House of Lords, my favorite political body only because in theory it is above ‘politics’ (it isn’t an elected body) and because it did the right thing about gay marriage. For an American, it is anathema to support such a hereditary institution, but to be honest, I am more suspicious of the electorate protecting and safeguarding my rights than hereditary peers. After all, my own people were more than happy to strip away my rights as an LGBT person while pretending they are above discrimination by voting for Obama.

And yet I am still voting for Biden/Harris despite Joe Biden outdoing the Republicans on criminalising people of color. Despite Kamala Harris’ record as attorney general. I don’t excuse them for their actions. But at least they aren’t Trump, whose platform is not only opposed to everything that I stand for, but is actively trying to take away my rights as an LGBT American. By voting, what I really I hope for is that my vote as a young person will be combined with other young voters to form a bloc that cannot be ignored. As it currently stands, I don’t feel like my voice is heard. Needless to say, I think that Biden, Trump, Pelosi and others are from a bygone era, and the future lies in people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Gavin Newsom.

People can interpret this in either two ways. The first is that all things eventually disintegrate. Such a view was espoused by Plato in The Republic. In short, American democracy is decaying to a point of no return and will eventually become so unstable that it’ll lead to tyranny (just a note here: tyrany is from turannos [τύραννος] and means autocratic ruler and the term doesn’t necessarily contain any negative connotations). Comparing Trump the tyrant to Plato’s degeneration of society is not unheard of. However I am prone to disagree with this line of thought.

Can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez be President already? Photo: Franmarie Metzler/Wikipedia.

Rather I find solace in a second, and for me, much more plausible explanation. The times simply have changed and, as a result, our current leaders are unable to govern us effectively anymore. Such a view is found in a series of newspaper articles called Spirit of the Age by John Stuart Mill.

In Spirit of the Age, Mill says that society exists in two states of existence: natural and transitional. When a society is in the natural state, then its leaders are more than capable of governing. However when a society is in the transitional state, then there are other people more capable of governing than the current leaders. As the name sounds, a transitional society is when a society undergoes significant changes that its social institutions are significantly altered. Finally, once the transitional society gets the leadership it needs to be well-governed, then it will move back to the natural state.

Thus, for me, I believe that our current political leaders are simply unfit to govern us because society has changed massively thanks to a variety of factors, including tech, the composition of the family unit, societal makeup (including race), and the ever-increasing integration of the whole planet via globalisation. I don’t believe that our leaders are necessarily inept, but rather I think that they are unaware that they are trying to govern as if we are in the same world as the 1970s (or even earlier). For example, attitudes to LGBT people have changed significantly yet the Republicans continue to pander to evangelical Christians. Climate change is very real, yet our politicians fail to do anything about it and question the science. Even Nancy Pelosi snubbed the only real plan to come out: Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal. Congress doesn’t seem to understand how Facebook works. Technology is finally exposing decades-long racist police brutalities, yet Biden is against defunding the police. And finally, Covid-19 is not a hoax, yet mask-wearing has become political (like wtf?).

Nonetheless I still voted. For the only candidate I can vote for without shooting myself in the foot. And Biden, if you happen to stumble across this blog, please think about governing a United States that exists in 2020, not 1973. Please listen to the progressives of the party. And please listen to all the young people who will vote for you, not because you are Biden, but because you are our only hope to having a better country that reflects our values. And I can only hope for the day when I see America’s first woman and Latinx president, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sworn into office.

[edit: Incorrectly listed Mills two types of societies as stationary and transitional. The two types are ‘natural’ and ‘transitional’]

Cover Photo by Element5 Digital/Unsplash

Paul Geerligs

Paul Geerligs

Philosophy grad student on a journey to relate philosophy to everyday life. Dutch/Mexican/Californian.
Los Angeles