Thursday, March 20, 2008

Petraeus - The Non Voter

I heard General Petraeus say yesterday that he hasn't voted since becoming a senior military official because he thinks at his level, leaders should strive to be apolitical. My response was, "What the FUCK?!" Which is so charming and ladylike. But I don't have elegant words for my dismay. Maybe because he's an old, white guy (i.e. a member of the group that's always had the ability to vote) that he can just walk away from such a basic American right/responsibility? I don't know. I can understand his reasoning about being apolitical to a point. I certainly don't think he should use his active military leadership status and influence as a platform to advance a political or partisan cause, but I think it's insane that this man doesn't vote.

It seems to me that he could exercise his franchise without unduly swaying anyone else. In fact, by publicly NOT voting - he's still swaying folks. He's promoting that same behavior among those wanting to emulate him. Don't you think there's a middle ground between being irresponsibly political in a position of authority and absenting oneself from the entire political process? Couldn't he vote without registering for one party or another? Couldn't he refuse to comment on his choices in the voting booth? Couldn't he cast his vote (and encourage others to cast theirs) while modeling the professional military ethic that no matter whom he votes for, he serves the duly elected authority? Does he not trust the privacy of voting booths? He made an issue of the fact that he hasn't voted since achieving a certain rank (major general? I can't remember) - but it made me wonder why that rank? Why not lower or higher - or hell - why don't we just encourage military folks not to vote at all? SHUDDER.

There is something about him NOT voting - as if he's above it all - above participating in the democracy that he's sworn to serve and protect that makes me feel sick to my stomach. I have to own that it's his choice to participate or not and I acknowledge that he'd likely vote for folks I'd rather not have in office, but still... I am bothered. Are you? Peace.


Richard said...

I understand the point you're making, and in the context of Petraeus, I'm inclined to agree. But the subtext that people necessarily should vote I'm not as sure about anymore. I think widespread voter apathy is in large part a general recognition, however unarticulated it may be, that the system does not serve the general population. And on balance, they're right. I still vote, but I find that I am less and less able to get worked up over people not voting. As our "democracy" has been reduced to mere voting, people have rightly concluded that it doesn't amount to much.

Too cynical?

Lilymane said...

Well Richard... it is a leetle cynical. :D
You do raise some good points, though. Democracy is (or should be) about way more than voting and voter apathy says something important about our system's health (or lack thereof). But for someone as "high up" as Petraeus to say he's unwilling to invest in even the semblance of the thing? I dunno. His checking out and then pawning it off as some weird virtue is as I said still worrisome to me. Glad to hear your feedback! Thanks for responding. Look forward to more conversation. Peace.