Having just lived through my first election while living in Washington D.C. proper, I am overwhelmed with the sense that my vote really doesn't count. Granted I have these feelings often when I vote. Especially when I vote for a third party candidate.
I love that phrase..."third party". Just to bring home again the fact that there are really only two parties in the U.S. and if you're not one of them, you're just another uninvited, unpopular geek standing against the wall at the school prom.
No, there are just two parties in the United States and everything else is just "other" regardless of what those people might think or believe. The mixed bag of "other" makes for strange bedfellows, as the saying goes. Libertarians and anarchists and greens and natural law, and several other flavors that don't get any press, scramble around beating the "ain't democracy great" drum and still don't get any press. No mic to speak directly into.
I work with Republicans. I always have, I guess, it's just that now "Republican" is on my business card and some folks have big ol' elephants in their offices. Having been raised as a Democrat, my main beef with Republicans has always been that they don't look out for anyone but themselves. Democrats were, in my mind, the guys that looked out for the underdog, that took care of the "what if" scenarios to make sure everything was fair. Republicans were the steam roller taking charge and driving the materialism of America full steam ahead.
Now I'm older. My skin is puckering, my eyes are wrinkling and my joints ache with arthritis. I actually started to wonder if I would work every day until I die or if something better could happen. Now I'm more grateful for the Republican push and more annoyed at the Democratic hand-wringing and tail-chasing. I recognize them both for what they are, different sides to the same coin. An action and a re-action. "Get it done" versus "process improvement". I think we need them both. I think neither one has all the features I'd like in a political party.
What blows me away more is the response I get from "friendly" Democrats when I talk about my job, or my fiancee (also Republican). The instant stunned face must be the knee jerk reaction I'm always hearing about. And yes, it pisses me off. Democrats and Republicans are so busy playing games and bullshit politics that they forget what they're there for. Both sides turn our political system into a big football game of us versus them.
The truth, should it ever be possible to spell it out, is that there's more than just two sides to politics. I think there's more than two sides to anything at all really... there is a wide spectrum of options. This is an idea that Dems usually understand. They understand the reality of diversity, even if others (you know, them, the Pubs) want to say it's all just one pot of fish, one big happy family, one nation under one god. But the truth (there's that word again) is that BOTH are true. One nation, ultimately divisible into infinite pieces, under one goal, to live long and prosper.
I remember something my mother told me when I was a child and it's stuck with me. She said, "You can't just take everything apart, you have to put it back together again." And no, she wasn't talking about my radio I dissassembled. She was talking about how I conceptualize things. I'm good at identifying and stripping down the parts. But in the end, you have to piece it back together and look at the whole, because the parts make the whole.