A symbolic vote / The symbolism of the vote
Of all the things that infuriate me about the United States, a nation that is as exceptionally mismanaged as it is exceptionally inventive, the one that has irritated me the most the past month has been the inability for American expatriates to vote at our embassies. The reason almost certainly lies in the Electoral College: expatriates cannot simply be registered as a bloc of their own, since the popular vote is filtered at the national level via the state-based “electoral” vote. Yet one more reason to strongly consider revising, if not getting rid of, the Electoral College.
Here’s another: if we understand democracy as the vox populi along majoritarian lines, then the very mathematics of the Electoral College system are undemocratic. Whoever can carry enough states to bring his (or her) overall Electoral College vote total to at least 270 shall win. Since most states in this election are supposedly already spoken for, this suggests that an extremely small percentage of voters — i.e., those in the mythical “swing states” — shall determine the race (back-of-napkin calculations suggest 5 million). The logical flipside of this is that the rest of us might as well not vote; the result, if it is indeed so pre-ordained, shall be the same.
But my purpose here is not to complain; rather, it is to go on the record as an Obama supporter. In the end, he really is the best candidate; indeed, in the words of one friend, he’s the best candidate we could ever hope to have. The New Yorker has an excellent summary of Obama, as well as why we should fret about Romney (I still can’t believe my countrymen might elect a president with offshore accounts! What are we, Kazakhstan?).
I suppose in the end it’s a kind of faith, or, yes, hope: give Obama four more years. And it’s not about partisanship; it’s about what I, and many of my countrymen — “countrymen” both in the particular American sense and in the global sense, in that the world is but one country and mankind her citizens — believe is the best for the United States and the world. What Romney represents isn’t that.
And it’s indeed about representation, symbolism. The characters of these two men are complex, and it’s uncertain what they completely signify. However, there’s an inkling that “Obama” at least signifies not descending into ideological fanaticism, and with it, the prevailing of reason. Of course, the triggers of signification rely a lot upon one’s framework, as I imagine Romney supporters would say that this is what “Romney” signifies for them. So, in a way, we’re all leaping into the dark with our vote.
Ah yes, my vote. Well, I missed the absolute latest postdate, which means my vote probably won’t be counted. Again, not that it would matter from a mathematical perspecitve (I’m a New Yorker, and my state has been pre-ordained for Obama); rather, it’s a statement. I’m saying: I’m still involved, and whatever the outcome, I still wish the best, for my society and the world.