Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Why I will not be voting, again

***Before I get started on this post, I thought that I'd remind everyone that New Amsterdam starts tonight at 8pm on Fox, and Jericho will be on at 9pm on CBS.***


It all started when I was seventeen and wanted to vote to re-elect Ronald Reagan. Everyone of voting age in my family did that. I wanted to vote too, only I wasn't quite old enough. That I would be eighteen long before the winner of the election would take office apparently didn't matter. I wasn't eighteen on the day of the election. But he won without my vote. No problem.

So after that I voted in a lot of local elections, mostly to keep out alcohol. We made a lot of jokes about "Quality Restaurants." At some point there was one of these elections that we didn't hear about, and the alcohol got voted in. The "Quality Restaurants" did not immediately make an appearance, but there are some here now. Funny that when the other side wanted to vote the alcohol in they wouldn't take no for an answer, and we had to re-vote on it again and again. Now that the alcohol is here we don't get the same opportunity to vote it back out.

There were other elections for Congress and such. Maybe I voted for a Senator or Governor, but I can't say for sure. I think that I must have voted for George Bush senior when I was twenty-one.

Okay, so when I was eighteen and getting over how it sucked that I didn't get to vote for Ronald Reagan, I started going to college full-time and signed up for Government class. I had previously taken American History and found it so boring and time consuming that I took the second half on TV. I figured that if I was going to do a lot of work in a boring class and only end up with a C, I might as well get a C by a less time consuming TV course. So I went into this Government Class expecting a repeat of the previous boring American History class.

Turns out that Government class was kind of fun. It was still a lot of work, but at the time it seemed more interesting, and I ended up with an A. At some point in the class, the professor was discussing the two party system, and how important it was to pick one of our major political parties.

He went on to say how that religion and income seemed to influence a person's party choice, and that often people changed parties if they lost a job or if their income changed just a little bit or if they changed religions, etc... At the beginning of the discussion, he asked for a show of hands how many of us were Republican, Democrat, involved in one of the other parties, or just considered ourselves independent. And most of us considered ourselves independent and planned to vote for different people without really having the parties be a major part of the decision. And there were a few Republicans and fewer Democrats, and if there were any third party people I don't remember them. And our professor was a Democrat. So he proceeded to explain the two party system and how it was really important that we pick one of the major parties and always vote for that party's candidate no matter how much we might like someone in the other party better.

So after he got done with his lecture he asked for another show of hands, and there were maybe one or two people who still considered themselves independent, and a few Democrats, and the rest of us were all Republicans.

Okay, so back when all of this was going on, Texas got the names for potential jurors from the voter registration cards. This made perfect sense. The same information that was used to determine where a person could vote would also determine where a person could be a juror. And you don't really want non-voters on juries anyway, do you? If a person can't spend an hour or so to exercise his or her own right to vote, that person probably could care less about seeing that you get a fair trial that will probably last several days at least.

Then I got married. My family and I always voted Republican. His family were Democrats. If we continued to vote as we had, our votes would cancel each other out anyway. We agreed that neither of us would vote, at least for the next four years or so. Maybe if one of us decided to change parties, then we would both vote. But for the first few years neither of us would even register to vote.

Enter my mother-in-law. For the first few years that we were married we were still receiving the odd piece of mail at our parents' houses. My mother-in-law decided to fill out the vote registration card for my husband and sent it in. There was no getting the damned thing back. He didn't want to register, and he didn't sign anything, but now he was registered. So now he was on the list as a potential juror. And it never made any sense why this woman took it upon herself to register her children to vote, since she did not at the same time register herself to vote and had not actually voted herself in more than a decade.

My husband was called in for jury service. Apparently, financial need is not an excuse for getting out of jury duty. They don't care that your employer doesn't pay you if you don't show up for work. Your employer is legally required to let you skip work to be a juror, but no one has to pay your for your time or for whatever money you are out for being a juror. A lot of companies do pay, but my husband's did not.

Also, the fact that you normally work at night and will not actually be awake for much of the trial doesn't count as an excuse either. Everyday for a week my husband went to the courthouse and filled out forms. Is there any reason why you could not serve as a juror in this trial? Yes, I work nights and will probably fall asleep during the trial. This kept him from being selected on juries, but did not get him out of the jury pool, which just meant that he had to sit around and wait to maybe be selected for another jury. This would usually last until lunch, at which time he would be told to come back the next day and do it again.

We promised each other that we would never even touch a voter registration card ever again, and told his mom that she tried to register for him again we would stop speaking to her.

At some point we were about to change our minds and vote for Ross Perot. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After the terrible week of my husband being half asleep in the jury pool room, the state of Texas decided that there were not enough names from the voter registration cards. Names for jury service are now obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Since neither of us were in position to give up having a driver's license, we are both now on the list of potential jurors.

But now we are both in the habit of not voting. And so far I haven't heard about anyone that I particularly want to vote for anyway. Like the classroom discussion, I do think that my lower income and decrease in church attendance has made me a bit less of a Republican. But I don't think that the Democrats really represent me either. I'm not sure that anyone would really represent me and vote for the stuff I would care about.

I worry about Health-care. I never worried about that before I got married. Before I got married, I had something called insurance, which could be a hassle sometimes, but if I ever needed it I had it. I've spent most of my married life without it. I have it now, but it is even more of a hassle than I remember. And I won't always have this insurance. If my husband dies, I won't have it. If a were to get a divorce, I would't have it. And if my husband changes jobs, I won't have it. My husband doesn't seem to get that would be an added expense if he changed jobs. He would probably have to wait six months before he could get insurance at the new job, if there even is insurance available at the new job, and many companies he's worked for just haven't had any. For the six months we are waiting for the new insurance, we would either not have insurance or have to pay for it ourselves, which last time I looked was about three hundred a month for each of us. And neither of us are getting any younger, and in the last two years I've had some problems. So I think about Health-care.

My second main concern right now is people who don't speak English. It used to be just a little annoying, but now it's really causing some serious problems. I'm not even sure that it's safe having all these people here who can't speak English. In Texas there are signs in Spanish and grocery ads in Spanish and coupons in Spanish. There are annoying phone solicitors who call and speak Spanish. There are IHOP menus in Spanish. There is tourist info in Spanish. I'm sure all that is nice, if you speak Spanish. I don't speak Spanish. And despite our last names, my husband doesn't speak Spanish either. So we are surrounded by annoying Spanish stuff that we can't read. And while everyone is doing back-flips trying to make sure the Spanish-speaking people are taken care of, the English-speaking people are being left out. When I was at McDonald's last week a woman got very upset because her number wasn't called and her food got cold while she was waiting. The kid who called her number read it in Spanish, so most of us didn't know what had been said or even that a number had been called. A couple of years ago my mother and I went to get a flu shot. You have to fill out a consent form that says you know that there are side-effects and that you're not allergic to eggs, etc.... But they ran out of English forms. They had boxes and boxes of Spanish forms, so they decided to use those instead. Only no one waiting in line could read Spanish, so one of the nurses had to stop giving flu shots and read the consent forms to everyone. And of course I'll never get the job at the library I would like, because "bilingual is preferred."

So I would like to vote for someone who will fix the whole Health-care situation and make everyone who lives here have to speak English. I don't think that there's anyone like that. All the Democrats seem to think that Health-care is a major issue. I don't know that any of them could actually fix things, but at least that is a major issue in their campaigns. But I doubt that any of them share my concerns about people who don't speak English.

So that's it. I think that my concerns do not match with either major party or any particular candidate. So I probably won't be voting. And I probably won't be voting for a long time.

16 comments:

dmarks said...

"The kid who called her number read it in Spanish, so most of us didn't know what had been said or even that a number had been called"

I can just imagine: "Tres..... Tres.... TRES!!!!".
---
We were on the Perot bandwagon. Ferengi jokes easily ensued. He lost us (along with most of his movement) when he wigged out and claimed that George H. W. Bush was trying to sabotage his family BBQ or something like that.

I know about votes canceling out. It happened in the last primary.

Mark J Daniels said...

(Incidentally, I'm hooked on Jericho too...)

Craze said...

I wish I could talk you into voting. It's an American right! Not many years ago women weren't even allowed to vote, it's for that reason I'm compelled to. I do agree with you and the issues. Sorry to go all political on you! :)

laughingattheslut said...

Damn. I had this whole reply to Dmarks typed out, but it didn't publish. I don't think I want to write it again.

laughingattheslut said...

Mark,

Jericho was brought back for the people, by the people, etc....

Last I heard, Journeyman was not so lucky.

laughingattheslut said...

Craze,

I felt that way about it when I was a teenager and when I first got to vote and then for about four or five years after that. And then sometimes I thought maybe it was just better to admit I didn't know which side was right. Now it's like voting, "none of the above." I don't know if we still have write-in ballots here, or maybe I could do that.

But I don't think I'll be voting when I can't even find someone who agrees with me on the two things that bother me the most right now. And then if I were going to vote I'd have to decide about all the other stuff and find someone who agrees with me on most of that stuff too. Do I want the troops out of Iraq? Do I really want to do away with all elective abortions or just ones in the third trimester? What do I think should be done about Social Security? What do I want done about Unemployment Benefits? What should be done about Food Stamps and Welfare and such? I have thoughts on all that stuff, but some things I have really strong feelings about, and other things are more vague. But if I'm going to vote for someone I need to give it more thought, and then I'd have to hear that the candidate actually has a plan to do something, not just that they don't like the situation either.

If the alcohol thing comes back around, I'll be voting on that one for sure. Even if it costs us our "Quality Restaurants."

dmarks said...

Damn. No response means I won't be adding another comment on this post. Oh wait...

The Absurdist said...

I have never been selected for jury duty (of course, having said that, now I will).

I have always decided that, unless the trial is interesting, during voir dire I would tell them that I am either:

1. In favor of legalizing drugs
2. I think that sex with children should be legalized.
3. I believe that only insane people should be put to death.
4. I believe in Satan only.

laughingattheslut said...

Absurdist

There is a part on the juror form where you have to swear to be of sound mind and good moral character. A judge once told my dad that he would dismiss any juror who claimed NOT to be of sound mind and good moral character. But apparently answering NO to that question doesn't get you out of jury duty anymore. There are just too many people who try that.

Depending on what the trial is about, you might be asked how you fell about stuff like the death penalty. If you say that you are strongly in favor of that then the defense won't want you. Though that's not a given that it would get you out, because everyone else might write that too.

There's also a part where they ask your general likes and dislikes, what you watch on TV and such. I can truthfully say that my favorite show is Star Trek. Unless one of the lawyers or the judge is a serious Trekkie, they don't like to hear that so much after that woman wore her uniform to court. For my next favorite TV show, I usually pick something like Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Again, this is true that I like the show, but I think that a lawyer would view me as someone who wouldn't be serious or smart enough to follow the trial and not want me on the jury.

laughingattheslut said...

Okay Dmarks, let's try this again.

The kid did not go to the microphone and say tres. There were a bunch of kids working there speaking Spanish, and they shouldn't be allowed to do that in the work place, but since most of them speak Spanish they do it anyway. So the kid said something in Spanish, and we just thought he was still talking to the other kids. And it's not like you ever get the number three anyway. So it wasn't tres, it was Spanish for one hundred ninety-four or two thousand six hundred thirty-seven or whatever. I can maybe follow someone counting to nine in Spanish, but I have no idea what any higher number sounds like. So the kid walks by and says something in Spanish, and no one knows what he said, and he left. And the lady got mad. And I'm with her, I would be mad too, but that didn't happen to me because I never left the counter area while I was waiting.

Someday there will be something on the news about a riot over dumb kids not speaking English at McDonald's. We have already had a riot when some little old white woman went to the movie theater and asked to buy a ticket for "The Colored People."

dmarks said...

"Tres" was one I knew. I quickly Googled in something like "twenty-four" into their translator, but for some reason I did not trust the results.

The language thing does not bother me personally, but that is likely because I hardly ever hear a langauge other than English spoken.

I have never been selected for jury duty, either.

Where it does annoy me is those automated phone systems. They are already wordy and slow anyway, the the unnecessary Spanish stuff they toss in the beginning of the instructions/disclaimers only increases my impatience.

Wavemancali said...

I don't agree with you on the language thing.

I think any business should be able to do what it wants and that market forces will dictate if the business survives.

If you don't like a store that lets the employees speak Spanish, don't shop there. Companies that cater to a Spanish clientèle should be able to freely do so.

It is only people who become US citizens that are required to learn English. Temporary workers and green card holders such as myself are in no way obligated to do so, although it does make us more employable.

It seems that you live in an area where the majority of people are Spanish speakers. Why should the majority be controlled by a minority?

Just to make it clear I am completely against illegal immigration. They are line jumping assholes that jumped ahead of people like me doing it legally. But I think legal immigrants not going for citizenship have every right in the world to maintain their language.

laughingattheslut said...

I don't agree even with that. First, most of these kids are citizens, just no one is making people learn English if they were born here.

And while I would prefer that all employees speak English, it should at least be required for people who work with the public. And these weren't Spanish speaking kids talking to a mostly Spanish speaking customer base or just their buddies who also speak Spanish. These were kids speaking Spanish to each other and then either not able or not wanting to switch to English to speak to the white and black English speaking customers. So no one understood what they were saying.

It's annoying enough to go to one of their family run restaurants (and there are a lot of them here, mostly with really good food or we wouldn't go) and having a 50/50 chance of getting an understandable waitress. This was just a plain old McDonald's.

Wavemancali said...

I understand what was happening.

I maintain that if people like yourself stopped patronizing the businesses like this that allowed such poor service to English speaking patrons the service would change.

Putting up with bad service enables bad service. Either complain to the management every single time or go elsewhere. That's the only way to get the service to change.

It's essentially the same with everything else in life. If you don't do anything about the behavior it's not going to change. People who stay with a spouse or significant other that cheat on them should expect more of the same because the significant other learns I got away with it, there are no consequences to my actions.

Once is too many in many circumstances, such as abuse or philandering in my opinion. For lesser crap like poor service I find I'll complain the first time and if the situation is never remedied, they have lost my business for good.

When I go into a what I consider the best Chinese restaurants, only the manager usually speaks English. I'm going there because I want the authentic Chinese food and I love seeing the staff eyes light up when I make an effort at the 3 or 4 words of Chinese I know.

In more conventional places like fast food restaurants, you should most definitely complain to a manager because you received poor service.

dmarks said...

(I'm interested in what those 3 or 4 words are.)

I did a little looking up, and McDonald's apparently requires English speaking at its "Corporate restaurants" but not at its franchises.

Wavemancali said...

@Dmarks

With any language the first words I always learn are please and thank you. Those were the first 3 Chinese words I learned.

I can order massive amounts of food in Chinese and I can also say "fat man" and point to myself which always gets great gales of laughter.