[Disclaimer: I vote. Sometimes. President and the U.S. Congress (House & Senate). Beyond that it's a tossup.]
My awakening began shortly after college. My first employer was an enthusiastic supporter of several groups that billed themselves as "educational" organizations. They were devout conspiracy theorists. My father had been a Mason and I thought it was a good thing that so many presidents had been, too. What a surprise to learn of all the many conspiracies out there! One of these groups advocated the same action that "Deep Throat" told Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money." It was also during my tenure at this company that Taylor Caldwell had her book, Captains and Kings published. It echoed the theme that the "controllers" were the international bankers that influenced many organizations (clubs and secret societies) who could suddenly turn on the man they made and have him assassinated. I was in the third grade in Louisiana (home of Jim Garrison) when Kennedy died. I grew up in a community of hunters and was familiar with firearms and was shocked when I heard the claims that Oswald had acted alone. How could anyone fire a bolt action rife that quickly and accurately? Even for an eleven year old the magic bullet theory was impossible to swallow. I even began to doubt Walter Conkrite. After the sixites, by 1972, my mind was a fertile field for serious conspiracy theories to germinate. Throughout the rest of the seventies and the next two decades my frustration grew with the observation of the lack of real change in the way our country was going regardless of which party was in power.
Flash forward to 1997 and Dr. Andew Weil's book, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Several of his suggestions made sense to me and I tried them. One of them, I really liked! A one week news fast sounded too difficult but I tried it anyway. This was at a time in my life when I was reading three newspapers a day and had the television set on CNN most of the day. It was amazing! I didn't care what Bill and Hiliary were doing anymore by this point anyway. It was such a refreshing change -- no news! I'm still enjoying the benefits today by continuing my news fast. So much of the news is politics. Not having a constant influx of news and politics made it so much easier to go about the business of living my own life. In 2000 my life changed again -- separation. A divorce ensued in 2001 and in June I married a woman who taught me the importance of living my life without being concerned about what anyone else would think. Without the news and the politics it brought, combined with this new life philosophy, I was liberated!
The same old theories abound and are now like choruses sung by new choirs. Was Bullworth correct with his claims that 5% of the population control 95% of the money? He must have been correct. I haven't seen any real change, regardless of which party is in power. Don't the big money companies divide their funds on both sides of the aisle in congress? Can you imagine General Electric, Bank of America, Kraft, Alcoa, or Pfizer putting all their eggs in one basket? Was Viet Nam fought to satisfy the desires of the military-industrial complex? Is it true that the first casualty of any war is the truth?
So why should I vote? Does one person really make a difference? Joanne Herring did. She was the driving influence behind Charlie Wilson. Julia Roberts played her in the movie Charlie Wilson's War and she really did make a difference. She did a lot more than vote though. She was at the time, according to Charlie Wilson, "the sixth most wealthiest person in Houston". Do we really want one person to be able to make that much difference? Is my vote being diluted by hundreds more who are voting because of "drive-through voter registration"? When I took a course in civics in high school, we were taught that our government is different because we are not governed by the masses but by informed voters who had earned the right to vote. Our voters were people who knew how our government worked and that by avoiding a simple "majority rules" system, America was different -- and better.
Fortunately my background includes enough study to consider myself "government literate" -- I know how our system is supposed to work. There's enough political awareness for me that an informed decision to not be politically active is possible. I'm not ready to throw in the towel on our country, but don't look for a bumper sticker on my car. Don't expect to see me on the mall in D.C. with a million other men waving a sign and singing A Hard Rain's A'gonna Fall. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats should expect any contributions from me. Can't think of any country I'd rather live in, but in many ways, it's not much different than when Thomas Payne lamented, "These are the times that try mens' souls."