Why I’m Not Voting

I already knew I’d never vote for Trump. Growing up in the greater DC Metropolitan Area, I’m intuitively aware this is no place for an outsider. Trump has experience in a lot of stuff, but DC is a league of its own; the House always wins.

Clinton is a professional. Even as First Lady, her relationship to President Clinton was more of Dick Cheney’s to George W. than a Laura Bush. She is THE professional; John Kerry (may his name be praised) is a model civil servant, Hillary Clinton is a model politician.

Which is why, inevitably, going into this election cycle there were already enormous obstacles to a smooth victory. But for myself, once Trump secured the Republican nomination, I never really thought about it. #NeverTrump. Until the Second Debate.

Where do we begin? Why bother. It was very telling that the opening question about the implicit message to children by virtue of the mature content of the presidential race was never answered by either candidate. Parent’s who give a shit about what their children are exposed to clearly aren’t a critical demographic. Maybe the candidates believe these people won’t vote on Election Day because they’ll be preoccupied wasting their lives on the impossible challenge of good parenting.

For all intents and purposes, the Second Debate centered around two topics, neither of which had any pertinence to domestic or foreign policy:

Firstly, which team had committed more egregious sexual offenses (Donald Trumps damn-near confession of sexual assault vs. Bill’s lengthy-albeit-alleged rapsheet). Secondly, which team had more sinisterly defrauded the federal government (Trump’s opaque financing shenanigans vs. Clinton’s completely inexcusable ignorance of mandatory federal communication guidelines, possibly of a felonious nature.)

As a citizen of the United States of America, it is my civic duty to take these debates seriously, take these candidates seriously, and think carefully about this decision. As a citizen of the United States of America, I am a permanent member of the jury of peers upon which the task has been bestowed to decide the leader of the free world.

But as a person, as John Brewster, I don’t fucking care. Just being human, I have greater responsibilities in and to society than just those of an American. Granted, as John Brewster, I’m unconcerned about a lot of things with which most people have very legitimate interest; savings, employment, having a roof over my head every night, stuff which many may consider ‘basic’.

I am concerned, however, with the issues at the forefront of the collective consciousness of my generation. Social issues: opportunity inequality in education and employment, racial bias in the judicial system, and sexual violence.  These have surfaced again, predictably coinciding with the discrepancy in economic recovery rates per demographic following the Great Recession.

These aren’t the most critical issues to the success of a nation. National defense and economic growth each have a multitude of niche policy issues where the right and left deftly battle to find the perfect balance between cronyism and the strength required to maintain Pax Americana. These are the critical issues of our nation, politically speaking. But social issues are critical to the health and wellness of the people. And sitting at home, in the basement, watching these two bicker about who sexually assaulted who and lied about what to which federal agencies, its clear that whatever special interest groups were fighting for has already been decided. And neither of these two give a shit about respecting human decency in a common sense way. So I’m sitting this one out.

I’m not making a statement by not voting. This isn’t a strike. I don’t have a list of demands are a minority group I’m desperate to defend. There’s nothing in the conversation that even resembles a change in cultural and social institutions at the level needed to empower peoples to engage their communities personally and improve the social health of themselves. That’s an obvious answer to a lot of us. Peoples are different, they need to understand themselves. Diversity makes America stronger, and we should play to it.

What message does the mature content of the current presidential race send to our children?  It say that the children are an afterthought. It says that this isn’t about them.  It says that they’re minds and they’re futures aren’t important. And I feel like I got that message too. I’ll be around longer than the current windbags twerking for ballots.  I’ve already lost this hand, and I’m looking to the next one.

I’m out.

In September, In Alaska

In September, in Alaska, the sun is already quickly falling south, and it’s light is soft and rich. The drive north on Elliot Highway from Joy to Livensgood is enchantingly nostalgic, as Autumn has repute. The Elliot Highway flows over soft hills through a dense white thicket of aspen, alder, and paper birch trees. But there aren’t any crisp dead leaves under the tires of the car, and there is barely a chill in the air; just very faintly the cool dampness that travels with early fall. Summer is gone.  And yet, the canopy is a fresh citrus yellow, uniformly so, and the thin translucent leaves pass the light of the sun onto each other; the forest is radiant.

In these hills, in the early morning, clouds form in the valleys, and when they’re lifted by the sun, they crowd the sky and travel as a single species, like a flock or a herd or a pride. Springs and heavy moss keep the forest swampy and damp even months after the snow has run off, and the clouds they yield are richly pregnant. The sun, up stage but hidden, ignites their regal profiles in dazzling rays of white-gold and honey; their bodies, dark and deep like steel vaults of fresh water. They lumber south from the yellow hills through the sky blue sky across the red fireweed tundra. Brimming, now and then they spill the water they carry back down to the wet earth.

Tong and I left Anchorage yesterday morning at 9:30am and arrived in Fairbanks around 6pm. We stopped a lot along the way to photograph the mountains, glaciers, and tundra. Tong, a student from Shanghai temporarily studying in Wisconsin, was headed to Fairbanks to photograph the Aurora, and I was keen to test out my new tent by camping at some boulders just north of Fairbanks. Last night we glimpsed some Aurora activity in a cloudy sky; some ‘whoah…’ moments but nothing ‘Wow!’. Now, we’re taking a breif excursion to visit the start of the Dalton Highway, the famous unpaved road that crosses the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle and goes all the way to Prudoe Bay on the shores of the Arctic Sea.

In the car, in F Minor, Stefanie Sun Yan Zi sings a soft Mandarin pop hit, Tien Hei Hei, a tribute to a Hokkien children’s song. Instead of a guzheng or a dizi, a classical piano begins slowly, rhythmically, softly bouncing between the third and fifth octaves on the keys. Sun’s voice is full of longing and love. The road is smooth and the car travels in graceful union with Elliot Highway. This is not a wilderness; this is an estate; this is a Secret Garden kept for a lordly mankind who is pleased with creation and has a proclivity for deep serenity; the rich intimacy of seamless impersonal nature.

In my self, in my mind, I am aware my awe is a sympathy, that this is not my dream, that when I dream fantastically of what would be lovely and beautiful my path would never find this idea. Its as if Summer, in it’s sleep, has become lucid, and has drawn close to Autumn, obliviously, and Autumn is enraptured. Summer, sleepwalking, is saturating the lemon yellow leaves. Summer, by mindless habit, strengthens the sun and keeps the chill out of the wind. And Autumn, pleased, yields to her crush, and enjoys the warmth of his dream.

metadata: Stefanie Yan Zi Sun: Tien Hei HeiGrapefruit Rocks