Monday, December 13, 2010

No Vote, No Voice

My mother’s oldest brother never voted in his life. He went to his grave, having never cast a vote for a single politcal candidate, Democrat or Republican. That didn’t stop him from having opinions though, about every man who ever sat in the White House, and he could have voted in every Presidential election from Roosevelt’s first to Nixon’s last. At every family gathering, be it holiday, birthday or funeral, he could be found someplace in the corner, drink in one hand, vociferously complaining to some poor sod about the injustices of the current government, whilst jabbing the guy dangerously in the chest with his free hand, which held a Marlboro precariously between his forefinger and middle finger.

Finally, one day, the exasperation got to my dad.

“Bill,” he yelled across the room, at the wedding reception of one of my numerous cousins, “Shut the fuck up. You don’t even vote. You don’t vote, you don’t have a voice, and no right to criticize those people.”

When I registered to vote at 18 in 1972, that message stayed with me and has stayed with me ever since, ensuring that each year I make sure I receive some sort of absentee ballot with which I might make my voice heard. It might be an insignificant one, but at least I’m exercising my right to have it heard, to remain an active part of the political process in my own country.

Keith Olbermann is a powerful man with a powerful voice and the ability to influence a lot of people who watch his program daily. Keith Olbermann’s program is dedicated to what he considers to be the most controversial and important political stories of the day. It’s fact-based political news, heavily laced with opinion – Keith’s opinion and anyone else who happens to be a guest and who echoes that same opinion. Sometimes, at the end of his program, he gives a lengthy and erudite “Special Comment” on some particular subject which, he feels, affects him greatly.

Last week, in the wake of the President having reached a compromise with the Republican leadership of the House and Senate regarding the extension of the Bush tax cuts, amongst other things, Keith registered his idealogical displeasure with this compromise in no uncertain terms.

Like everyone else inhabiting the fashionable fringe of the Progressive Left, inhabitants of metropolitan and otherwise areas of the so-called “Left Coast” and the affluent urban areas of the Northeastern corner of the U S, he ranted and railed about the President “caving in” to the Republican Party. In one Special Comment, he referred to the President as an American Neville Chamberlain, meaning he was nothing less than an appeaser. That was on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday night, he openly referred to the President of the United States as a quisling.

Oh, really?

To say directly that Barack Obama is the epitome of the worst kind of traitor, to liken him to a man who betrayed his country and delivered his people into the hands of the worst kind of fascist regime, the Nazis, is not only pretty heavy going, it’s absolutely worse than any rhetoric or hyperbole the Tea Party have attempted. That sort of accusation actually places our President on a footing several floors below the lower extremities currently occupied by Bush 43 and Richard Nixon.

On Thursday night, when two Republican Senators, aided and abetted by the Senate’s newest Blue Dog, reneged on a promise to vote in favour of the repeal of DADT, holding the delayed Democratic support for the tax cut legislation to ransome before delivering their vote, Olbermann, again, directly blamed the President for this, and salaciously took pleasure in relaying the details of a pretty prickly encounter between House Democrats and Vice-President Biden, repeating, not once, but several times, that one member of the Democratic caucus actually shouted out, “Fuck the President.” Instead of sounding like a seasoned and responsible newsman, Olbermann sounded like a cross between a gossipy, but indignant, old spinster and a ten year-old boy, giggling behind the woodshed at the wonder of a crass four-letter word.

Keith Olbermann doesn’t vote.

He feels that voting would impinge upon his journalistic integrity, yet he contributed to three different Democratic candidates for Congress, including one who’d just appeared on his programm. I’m sorry, but if you are a journalist, and you choose not to vote in order to maintain an impartial integrity, doesn’t contributing to candidates of a particular political persuasion kind of negate that? Isn’t that more than just a bit hypocritical?

It still does not belie the fact that this man does not vote, yet he’s allowed a public platform by which he can influence the opinions of people who do exercise their privilege. And that, to me, is immoral.

A person who doesn’t vote enables whatever political party is given the mandate to govern at the polls. Therefore, Keith Olbermann is just as responsible for enabling Bush to initiate the unpaid-for tax cuts in 2001, as he is for enabling Barack Obama to reach a compromise with the Republicans to extend them.

You don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.

Shut the fuck up, Keith.

No comments:

Post a Comment