The Wasted Vote


A Fable for Our Times

by 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."

You respond:

"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 for you."

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 steak!"

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.

Return to main page