The Wasted Vote
A Fable for Our Times
Jack Graziano, 21 March 2004
It's that time of the year again. Election
time. And what are we hearing? Don't waste your vote by voting for anyone
but a Republican or Democrat. Doing so may cause one or the other to
lose because they didn't get your support.
Let's cut to the chase and call this
for what it is: Arrogance –
arrogance to the nth degree. You see,
the two major parties are in effect saying they OWN your vote.
If you don't vote for either a Republican or Democrat then you are just
plain ignorant, or stupid, or a combination of both. You can't be trusted
to make up your own mind. Too many choices may confuse the voter –
so let's limit the choices.
You enter a restaurant and when handed
the menu you see only two items – Chicken or Turkey. You call the
waiter over and ask: "Is this all you ever have – Chicken or Turkey?
For once I want a nice red steak!"
The waiter looks at you, shakes his head
and says: "Of course we have other items. Do you see the very tiny
print on the back of the menu? 'Other items.' That means you
can order what you like as long as we have it. But we think you should
only order either the Chicken or Turkey. We refuse to even advertise
the other selections. You'd just be throwing your money away anyway
because most people like our Chicken or Turkey dinners. We know exactly
how to prepare those meals. Steak is an 'Other Item.' We don't
have much experience there."
"Listen – I'm sick and tired of
eating Chicken or Turkey. They both taste and look almost the same and
no matter how many times you say you'll prepare it to order – it all
comes out the same in the end. Same sauce, same color, same taste. Give
me a steak!"
The waiter then calls his boss over and
explains to him that you want to buy a steak dinner.
"Goodness gracious NO!" he
exclaims. "Don't you know that by ordering steak you won't be sure
of how it will taste? We almost NEVER cook steaks. Stick with what we
do best – Chicken or Turkey. That's what we think is the right choice
By now you are getting suspicious. "Why
is it that when I actually do see a steak dinner it always seems to
be a better bargain?
It sizzles. It looks great. It promises to fill me up.
It even costs less then the Chicken or Turkey! Obviously your
chef can cook it. Give me the steak!"
"Please!" implore both the
waiter and his boss. "If you order the steak – maybe someone
else will do the same. We've ordered enough Chicken and Turkey for everyone.
If you persist – we might actually have to throw out either some Chicken
or Turkey! You wouldn't want that, would you?"
You reply: "I couldn't care less about how
many Chickens or Turkeys you have. You must have a whole lot, because
that's all that's on the menu. But that's your problem. I've eaten Chicken
and Turkey until it's coming out of my ears. Every time you promise
me that they are fresh, tasty and won't cost much. Every time I get
them they are the same stale old birds as before – the only difference
is that each time I come in they're more expensive. Give me the damn
The waiter looks at his boss and his
boss looks at his waiter. "If you insist", they both growl,
"you can have a steak. But .... just to make sure that no one else
is bothered by your selfishness we insist that you sit behind this screen
and eat as quietly as you can. In fact – we're going to move the screen,
the table and you outside in the backyard. That will keep anyone else
from making the same mistake."
And by the way – we just made new menus.
It will be even harder to find 'Other Items' next time you
come. We suggest that you don't even ask!"
And so it is with third party candidates.
The media, the reporters, the politicians are all telling you that you
should vote either Republican or Democrat, knowing full well that there
is a complete menu of other more interesting candidates on the ballot
- but making darn sure you never hear about them. Even if you insist,
third party candidates are hidden away on the back pages.
It's for your own good, of course. Because
"everyone" knows that Republicans or Democrats are the
only selections to make.
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