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Party Politics

Saw this article about people signing petitions and having their political party changed without their knowledge, and it got me thinking about an old question of mine. Why are voters registered with a particular party?

I’ve never understood this, it seems ridiculous to me. Parties should be for candidates, not voters. If a voter wants to self-identify with a specific party, that’s fine and they’re free to do so, but including it in paperwork and restricting how you can vote based on it feels needlessly tribalistic to me. At the very least it chafes against my hatred of being labeled, but also it seems undemocratic to me, constraining your ability to vote as you please. Far better, to my mind, to abolish parties in voter registration and allow everyone to vote in a single primary of their choice.

If anyone can shed some light on why this is the way it is I’d very much appreciate it.

Since I’m speaking of parties, there’s another thing bothering me, and that’s that I’ve become a de facto democrat. I’m not registered with any party, (At least I don’t think so, after reading that article I want to double check) but in recent years the republican party has become so batshit that there’s really no chance I would ever vote for any of them. The system in this country is so geared towards two, and only two, parties that there’s no realistic chance for anyone who’s not a democrat or republican, and since the republican platforms all seem to boil down to “Fuck the poor, they deserve to suffer”, “Bitches ain’t shit”, and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” that leaves the democrats as my only option.

Frankly, I’m appalled at this state of affairs and would like it to change. But then there’s a lot I’d like to change, and I don’t see a clear path to any of it, so I guess I’m just whining.

Screw you, existing customers

Wound up looking at cell phone plans today for reasons too boring to mention, and I saw that my carrier (T Mobile, whom I’ve been very happy with for the most part) offers a new plan that’s similar to mine, but generally better and only slightly more expensive. I was actually starting to do the math to decide if I wanted to change to it when I read the footnote which informed me that this plan was “New activations only.”

It’s things like that that make me feel you should get one free hit on marketing people before it’s considered assault. Daily.

I understand the desire to bring in new blood, (well, new money) but it really does feel like a slight to those of us who’ve been with them for a while. Oh well, I guess we’re all pretty used to corporate douchbaggery by now.

Yeah, I was just venting. Look, I’m way behind on my post count here, so any excuse to get something written is good enough for me right now!

On the value of whining.

The complainer is always wrong. I saw a bumper sticker that said something about ending whining the other day, and it’s been rolling around in my head ever since. There seems to be this pervasive attitude that pointing out flaws in the way we do things, not as individuals but as a culture, or even in the government that is intended to represent our interests, is just whining.

I’ve often seen that expressed as “Sure, X isn’t perfect, but…”, and it’s that “but” that gets me. It’s rarely if ever “Sure, things aren’t perfect, but if we think about it and work together we can probably improve the situation”, it’s generally more like “Sure, things aren’t perfect, but they’re not too bad and others have it worse, so stop whining”.

I always hear that second one as “Sure, things aren’t perfect, but I’m personally pretty comfortable and I’m not willing to put any work into improving things for others, so stop mentioning them because my conscience bothers me when you do.” Of course from a practical perspective, what’s being said is “Sure, things aren’t perfect, and I’m not going to help anyone try to make them so.”

I can understand feeling uncomfortable when someone points out an imperfection in the way your nation or religion or whatever social group does things, we all like to pretend we’re perfect, but to dismiss it as “just whining” smacks of thoughtless dogma. Worse, when valid criticism is coming from within the group, to denounce the critic as “disloyal” or some such shows profound weakness of character, as you’re not only attacking one of your own who’s (presumably, for this example at least) acting in good faith, but you’re passing up a chance to improve things. If you can’t face the flaws you can’t fix them, and if you love your group so much, you should be willing to make it better.

I should point out that I’m not talking about the sort of jabbering apes that just want to throw shit all over everything, like an internet troll who will not only exaggerate problems, but also lie and misrepresent in order to get a rise. I’m also willing to accept that at some point you have to assume that you have a good handle on the problem, and it’s time to start looking for solutions.

In fact that’s probably a good practical definition of “just whining” right there, when you’re no longer pointing out problems, but merely repeating that they exist while contributing nothing to a solution. That puts me in a strange position, because many of my posts on this blog straddle the line between “raising awareness” and “complaining without really helping”. But since the real purpose of this blog is to practice my writing, I’m not too put out by that.

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