First, let me thank clairity for creating this forum. I would have logged in earlier and contributed my thoughts, but the truth is that I haven't been blogging much in the past six months or so. And I would like to think that that's a good thing for my life.
But the upcoming election did get me to start blogging again (at least compared to the long hibernation that's befallen all of my other blogs). I'll admit here that I'm behind the (never read) blog, Diary of a Disillusioned Voter. I started the blog as an expression of my frustration with American politics. I will not bore you with a repetition of all the reasons here; go visit the blog and you will find plenty.
I used to be very politically interested and involved. A good friend is now an elected official and another is likely to be shortly. Yet, I have largely withdrawn from politics until recently, much to the shock of people who haven't seen me in five or ten years, for whom an image of me immersed in politics is what is attached to my name in their memory.
I label this post "Irony" because I feel less disillusioned today than I have in a long time. I think things started to change for me with a local aldermanic election in which a neighbor of mine was the candidate challenging a longtime incumbent. Most would never think I'd support him, yet through all the differences in our beliefs -- and if you know my neighborhood you would know that there are many -- at its core was an honesty about our neighborhood's real situation and a common bond to better our neighborhood. And that cut, fast and smoothly, through all the things that ideologically could have divided us.
I have had a similar experience with this presidential election. I had been dreading it for a long time, thinking that there would be no candidate I could possibly support. To my surprise, I found one. And not long after starting a blog entitled, "Diary of a Disillusioned Voter," I find myself having contributed money to a presidential campaign and having written letters on behalf of a candidate. I am not naive enough to think that he's guaranteed any victories or that I might not find myself in just a few months facing the final selections of this primary season, dissatisfied and unmotivated. But still something has changed.
In the first place, I think I have thrown off some of the lies our political culture tends to give us. These days, there seems to be two main reasons offered up as why you should vote for someone: peer-pressure and fear. Fear: fear that if you don't vote for Candidate A, then that oh-so-evil Candidate B is going to win and, you know, that's going to mean Armageddon. Peer-pressure: the classic, "why do you want to waste your vote" jazz. All of this gets wrapped up for us Catholics in that neat little moral theology wrapper of it being permissible to vote for the lesser of two evils. Now, I'm not questioning the validity of that premise in theory, but in practice voting for the lesser of two evils for the past 15 years has torn a hole in my soul. And I realize that that was because I had bought into the cultural lie of what gives my vote meaning. It is no longer about prediction for me. I no longer buy into the ideological rantings that the other candidate is the devil incarnate and that my vote is the world's last hope. I'll cast my vote for very different reasons this year. My candidate will likely not win, but at least I won't lose in the process.