pissing in the soup

I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired.

I worked as an election official on Tuesday. I suspect the local election (mayor, city council, school board) was pretty similar to most other elections in the US. Our small election team (five of us plus a precinct captain) had worked together before, so everything ran smoothly. We arrived at our polling station at 6AM and worked until 9PM. We’d expected a decent turnout; I figured we’d get 400, maybe 500 voters. Enough to keep us modestly busy.

We had over 1200 voters. I only had time for a short 30 minute break all day–just enough time to eat a sandwich. As far as I could tell, we had a representative sample of the local population–mostly white, with a broad spectrum of age, gender, and political perspectives. There were voters wearing ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ t-shirts and voters wearing NRA trucker hats, we had a young woman with a ‘Merry Meet’ Wiccan pin and one beefy guy in camo pants wearing a III% t-shirt. Nobody wore a MAGA hat.

The election was fair; it was busy, but went exactly as planned. Every registered voter got to vote. If somebody showed up and wasn’t registered, we registered them on the spot and let them vote. If a voter came to the wrong precinct, we printed them a map with directions to the correct polling station. I’m proud of the way we handled the voting process.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not.

Although the city council and school board positions are technically non-partisan (there were no political affiliations listed by the candidate’s names on the ballot), Republicans won across the board. Democrats ran campaigns based on compassion tempered by science. Republicans ran campaign based on misinformation, lies, and fear. Democrats supported mask and vaccine mandates; Republicans said parents know more about their kids’ health than scientists. Democrats said education should be diverse and prepare students for the world they live in; Republicans said Critical Race Theory taught white students to hate themselves and trans kids would destroy sports.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not; the reporting was stenographic. Reporters presented the candidate’s positions accurately, but without presenting any factual support. If a candidate said, “Leading scientists say vaccines are dangerous and I only want to protect the children” then that’s what was reported, without any indication that it was fatuous bullshit. If a candidate claimed that CRT was dangerous and shouldn’t be taught in school, that’s what was reported, regardless of the fact that CRT isn’t taught in any public high school, junior high school, or grade school–and not even in most undergraduate college courses. If a candidate lied, reporters just relayed the unfiltered lie to the public.

Looks good, looks healthy — but is it?

If campaigns are allowed–even encouraged–to be dishonest, then an honest election has little practical relevance. I’m proud to have helped facilitate a fair election process, but I can’t help being disappointed. Not because it’s not the outcome I wanted, but because the outcome is tainted. It’s like running a spotless, orderly, professional kitchen that allows some cooks to piss in the soup. The kitchen is clean, the soup looks good, but it’s still got piss in it.

So I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired. Tired physically and emotionally, disappointed in a system that fails to require candidates to speak honestly, and angry that our system favors liars, con artists, and fear mongers. I’m tired and disappointed and angry, but today I’m still mostly tired.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being angry.

11 thoughts on “pissing in the soup

  1. My Mammaw used to say “You’d complain if somebody shit in your soup.” I never understood that. Of course, I would complain, there’s shit in my soup!

    Her reasoning was “But you’d have more soup.”

    I still don’t get that logic.

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    • I’m sure your Mammaw was a sweet woman, but I’m a tad concerned about her kitchen habits.

      If somebody shit in your soup, you wouldn’t have any soup. You’d have a stool sample with vegetables.

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    • This is actually an excellent example of the primary problem of modern politics in the US. Yes, we have a very efficient election system when it comes to getting voters through the system and registering their votes. But efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fair or just. If people are voting based on false information, it doesn’t matter how efficiently we count their votes. If some people are discouraged or dissuaded from going to the polls, it doesn’t matter how accurately we count the votes of folks who DO go to the polls. If the decisions about which votes should be counted are made for partisan reasons, then it doesn’t matter that we’ve made voting simple and easy.

      An efficient system that’s corrupt is still corrupt. The fact that the election winners were able to mislead and lie to the voters without any repercussion just means the election process certified lies and fear-mongering.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Advocating for improved voting access and against voting restrictions is something I spend time on – it’s a central issue to me. But, you really point out the larger issue which is one side is the flabbergasting abuse of the truth by one party that subverts the whole electoral process. And while I see the two things in vivid color, I never connected them like you do in your piece. I’m trying to find some daylight – a path forward – but it’s hard to envision.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely understand, greg. You set a real example by not giving up. The Republicans have latched on to fear, mocking and what they feel are the ridiculous “principals” of the Commie, elites. Rather than counter that with logic and ethics, we Democrats could be enticing others with the prospects of all the advancements coming with the Democratic Infrastructure Bills, possibilities like broadband in rural areas and roads and clean water, and reminding everyone of the money now in their pockets for children, and stimulus. Tangible things that will benefit each and every American. Who is responsible for this, the Democrats.

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    • I saw this exchange on Twitter just now: You can’t win an election by telling voters their concerns are imaginary. But you can win an election by telling voters their imaginary concerns are real.

      The Dem plans and policies are really popular and people will vote for them IF their heads aren’t turned around by fear and lies. “Nobody is coming to take your guns” isn’t very reassuring and even though it’s true, it’s not going to make people want to vote. “They’re coming to take our guns” is alarming AF and will make people want to vote, even though it’s not true.

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  3. Much of the world seems to be going through this at the same time. A turning away from truth and honesty and realistic expectations to a denigration of science and math and a conflagration of fear and hate.

    It’s not a good place to find ourselves. It’s getting more like Animal Farm every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We are all tired of this crap Greg. But mark my words; there are bad times ahead. I see great numbers of Americans that think things are so terrible that they need to upend things. Wait till there is conflict in America – not protests but actual groups of American citizens fighting other American citizens. I fear that, and sooner than we might like.

    I tend to agree with you on a lot of stuff Greg. I have to be the devils advocate for a moment though. The “misinformation, lies, and fear” that you speak of, and I agree that from where we are standing they are such, to a substantial chunk of the population are not. Truth is slippery.

    Crazy isn’t it? Throughout human history long periods of peace and prosperity are fleeting. I would quickly trade some of these “freedoms” certain groups of Americans are willing to initiate civil war over, for peace and prosperity. I would also argue that some people are more free than others and the playing field is not level. But these are my truths and not held by all.

    You and I see “misinformation, lies, and fear.” Others see things differently. It is an ugly time. Humanity changes always, and not always for the better.

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    • “Misinformation, lies and fear” are always exactly what they say they are. Wrong. But some are brainwashed not to believe it. It’s not the truth that’s slippery, it’s the mental capacity of the cult believers.

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      • Yeah, I know rational people that do not hold the same beliefs on social subjects as I do. Wrong is a pretty tough word. Truth is slippery.

        Politics are always ugly and there is always trumpeting about what is true or good. In the end justice and truth are in the interest of the stronger and the victors.

        You know, there has been relative peace and prosperity now and again in human history, and not all those times were under a democratic government. I am a 20th century American, I am biased. But I won’t pretend I know what truth is.

        Liked by 1 person

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