Last Friday, I stood for close to an hour at my polling station to vote early and all for selfish, unpatriotic reasons. Let’s be real, my vote’s pretty useless; I live in Illinois and I voted for Obama, who’s more than guaranteed to win this state. Still, it was something I’ve been guilted into doing by pretty much everyone around me, especially my colleague Alex Young here. In the past, I’ve always subscribed to George Carlin’s philosophy on voting: “If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done.”
I still do believe this. I’m an atheist, who came from a Jewish family that enrolled me in private Catholic schools throughout my youth. Because of this, and at the risk of sounding like a meek, angsty skateboarder rolling about on Venice Beach, I hate authority and I don’t trust anyone with that sort of power. Yeah, this is an unrealistic and pathetic outlook to have, but I guess I just can’t shake being unrealistic and pathetic. Oh well.
So, why’d I vote? I could easily say peer pressure, brush my hands off, and walk away — though, I’d be lying. To be honest, I think I voted because I wanted to follow up on something I did four years ago. Back in 2008, having only lived a year in Chicago, I found myself actually inspired by a politician.
This was someone that connected not only to me, but my generation. He was someone that had ideas and spoke with the candor and drive that echoed Kennedy or the two Roosevelts — my three personal favorite heroes in American history. In sum, he nudged the jaded chip off my shoulder, which I’ve kept in my breast pocket ever since. I’m not going to lie, I’m not exactly stoked about the last four years, but I’m hardly disappointed, either. So, I guess I voted on Friday to simply carry out a decision I made four years ago with the hope that change can still come and I wasn’t an idiot to cast a vote in the first place — and yes, that’s selfish, and certainly unpatriotic, but we all have our reasons.
Whatever yours are, don’t be cynical about voting. Even if you feel your vote’s useless, or that it doesn’t matter, and even if that’s true, you should still exercise your rights. In light of the recent news about Pussy Riot, one should feel pretty fucking good about that right. It puts things in perspective, which is something we all need to do once and awhile.
Having said all that, I’ll get off my Wal-Mart-branded step stool now, finish my Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, snuggle up in my Urban Outfitters sweater, and turn up the volume of my Harman/Kardon speakers while I listen to this playlist I made on Rdio. U-S-A. U-S-A. U-S-A.
Election Day Playlist
Public Enemy – “Revolutionary Generation”
Leave it to Chuck D to state the truth: “Day to day, America eats its young/ And defeats our women/ There is a gap so wide we all can swim in.” As our country continues to divide, it’s a lyric like that which continues to burn the soul. The solution? “R-e-s-p-e-c-t my sisters, not my enemy.” Truth.
Queens of the Stone Age – “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”
How much money has been thrown away on the war against drugs again? Fun fact: Over 34 billion dollars this year alone.
Devo – “Freedom of Choice”
Is it a call of arms against conformity or a snarky commentary on the futility of choice? Perhaps it’s both. Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale have always kept their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, while also crossing their fingers behind their backs. Still, no matter what they’re inferring, there’s no denying “your freedom of choice. Freedom of choice!”
PJ Harvey – “This Mess We’re In”
Okay, so this one has nothing to do with politics, other than the breakdown of a relationship. Still, it’s Thom Yorke and PJ Harvey and that title rings bells everywhere and that imagery about “the helicopters” still creeps me out to no end. So, yeah, why not?
Reagan Youth – “Degenerated”
A raging, back alley scuzz bucket of a tune from one of the most hardcore punk outfits to come out of the East. Singer Dave Rubinstein’s warbled vocals spit out just the most morbid shit here. Lines like “Johnny don’t care about this world/ As long as he can fuck a girl,” which finally ends with the equally bleak and fucked up finale of “And when he’s old, he’s gonna have a son/ They’ll both grow old deaf and dumb/ What’s to become of young Johnny?” It should be noted that Rubinstein later commit suicide, and this song was then popularized in that Joe Mantegna film, Airheads. Happy voting!
Lauryn Hill – “Everything is Everything”
The IRS might not be a fan of hers, but can’t we all agree that this one’s got some words of wisdom. Who’s really gonna argue with this mantra: “Let’s love ourselves then we can’t fail/ To make a better situation/ Tomorrow, our seeds will grow/ All we need is dedication.” As Yeezy put it years back, “So who the kids gonna listen to?” Don’t worry Ms. Hill, we’re still listening.
Pearl Jam – “World Wide Suicide”
More aligned with the Bush administration, but similar to Neil Young’s “Keep On Rockin’ In the Free World”, this one will last for years to come. Eddie Vedder’s never sounded so angry or so urgent, as he sings, “Looking in the eyes of the fallen/ You got to know there is another, another, another, another, another…”
The Rolling Stones – “No Expectations”
Don’t think too much into this one. Just focus on this line: “Once I was a rich man and/ Now I am so poor/ But never in my sweet short life/ Have I felt like this before.”
The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
It’s hard to not get shivers when Matt Berninger yelps, “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe.” For anyone that’s ever taken out a student loan or dealt with hospital bills, this one’s for you.
Pras – “Ghetto Superstar”
If you haven’t seen the political farce Bulworth, please do. Make it a movie night and pair it with the other funny ’90s film, Dave.
EMA – “California”
One of last year’s most integral anthems, especially for twentysomethings today. Erika M. Anderson spooks us with two lines, and coincidentally they’re paired together: “Love so much so real so fucked it’s 5150” and “But I’m just 22 and I don’t mind dyin.” Sometimes death really does feel like the only escape to everything. How very.
The Raconteurs – “Salute Your Solution”
It’s all in the title. It’s all in the title.