As everyone who lives in the United States of America knows, two days ago was Election Day. Unlike the uber-commercialized holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the most commercialized holiday of all comes around only once every 4 years. During the months leading up to this holiday, we Americans are bombarded with messages from various candidates pleading for your “all-important” vote, in much the same manner as a high school student would for a prom court nomination. However, according to the majority of U.S. citizens, a vote for or against issues or candidates in the political coliseum actually matters.
In my experience, albeit only 26 years of it, I’ve found quite the opposite. In the past few years, I have seen multiple cases of instances where the majority vote “by the people” was overturned. Similar to antics seen on public school playgrounds, this juvenile and treacherous behavior that has been recorded time and time again in American politics led to my complete faithlessness in the system that America finds it easy to brand as “democracy.”
If you know me, or find that following me on Facebook/Twitter isn’t actually a waste of your time, you may be aware that I chose not to cast a ballot in the 2012 election that took place yesterday. I’ve had many conversations with both open-minded individuals and those that couldn’t wrap their own reasoning around my thoughts. All of these helped to not only reinforce my own beliefs, but it also helped me to understand where others were coming from (those who could reason without cloning others’ remarks and successfully back themselves up with legitimate hard information). In that respect, I thank those who took time to discuss the topic of voting with reason and respect without resorting to name-calling. However, I feel that I’m guilty of holding out on something – I never really told them about how I lost respect for the political standard.
It was over a year ago when this event happened to me. On March 8th, 2011, the Missouri Senate gave approval to SB 113, which effectively nullified everything that Proposition B, the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” stood for. In November of 2010, close to 1 million of Missouri’s citizens voted to pass Prop B, which was quite the majority. Jane Cunningham, a republican senator from Chesterfield, MO, made note of the fact that Prop B was passed by a larger majority than many of the senators had been elected by. If you don’t live in Missouri or remember what this proposition required, the following is a list of what commercial puppy producers were ordered to provide:
- daily access to nutritious food
- continuous access to drinkable water
- veterinary care for sickness/injury
- safe housing
- adequate space
- room to exercise
All of the above are necessary for any living being to live a healthy life; not just a dog’s life. However, a very small number of “suits” decided that it would be too costly to implement the rules, and therefore declared an emergency act to make changes to the proposition, becoming effective immediately and bypassing another popular vote on the matter. These changes included the removal of detailed criminal penalties along with the removal of size restrictions on breeding operations.
When questioned about the Prop B votes actually counting for something, Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon (D), had this much to say on the matter:
“What I tell them is, but for the action of the public, there wouldn’t have been the force that was necessary to coalesce people to make these changes. Their votes did matter.”
Oh, I’m sure they did. The report on “Missouri’s Dirty Dozen,” a title for the worst puppy mills in Missouri, proclaimed their findings:
“…sick or dying puppies who had not been treated by a veterinarian; dogs and puppies found shivering in the cold in 28 degrees, dogs with oozing, open lesions and injuries that had not been treated by a vet; puppies with their feet falling through wire cage floors; and dogs so emaciated that their bones were clearly visible through their skin.”
Yes, I’m sure that those dogs were saved since Gov. Nixon’s cronies overturned the proposition to rid the state of this horror. If the vote of the people actually mattered, then you wouldn’t need suits making “emergency” bills that weren’t even up for discussion with the populace. (For more information on the subject, read this article.)
I had seen other examples of this kind of work before (and unfortunately after), but like most things in life, it always becomes more clearer when it hits home. And here it was, right in my backyard. The day that information was passed on to the public was the day I lost faith in the “system.” It was the day that the shroud was lifted from the ugly face of politics for me, and I was changed henceforth. If something this corrupt could happen to poor helpless animals, then it could happen to anyone or anything, anytime. I knew right then and there that it was time to back out of partaking in this game for good. My words were truly not worth a cent to any elected official. And if that’s the case, why bother speaking to them through polls that they will willfully ignore? They will spend millions on petty things like refurbishing parking garages but they won’t pass a proposition to save the lives of animals because it’s “too expensive?”
All my life I have always been the person to root for the underdog. I will support someone or something regardless of how small a voice they have if what they’re saying rings true. I believe everyone deserves a chance to be heard and respected, especially if they are in dire need of assistance. To see fellow human beings act this way towards puppies, I couldn’t then and still can’t figure out where the most evil resided – in the dens of the demons who put these animals through the Hell they were born into, or the succubi and incubi that open their treasure chests filled with gold, only to find that they can’t depart with just a fraction of it.
But then I remember. These are the same people who refuse to acknowledge the rights (sometimes even the existence) of a newly-formed human being inside their mother. These are the same people that would be willing to end the lives of the unborn if it meant more votes for them in the next election. Maybe they figure if those that they ignore can’t speak up against them, then their decisions can go unchecked?
On Tuesday, the sun rose. But it wasn’t like any other day. It was Election Day. To millions of Americans, it was time to go out and “be heard.” It was time to make a difference – rock that vote, so they say. Being in the small minority, I didn’t subscribe to any of this. I did not register to vote. I had no intention of voting for men that had no intention of caring about what the populace had to say, nor did I want to encourage the folly that is the bi-partisan monopoly. I had long since grown tired of hearing these man (and women) jabber on about what their opposing candidate had done wrong in their job. I had grown weary of falling into a depression of sorts when reading about each candidate and how they had no rock to stand on, but didn’t seem to care.
But mostly, I had become fed up with the dissent between American citizens who thought it was civil to ostracize their fellow man based on what professional liar they shared thoughts with; citizens who would rather scream and argue with each other about gay rights when the rights of the unborn go largely ignored; citizens who openly rebel against the older population because they think they know better; citizens who revel each other based on what political bumper sticker, sign, or meme they showcase. Is this what we humans have really evolved into? Is this what America strives for – the pinnacle of selfishness?
You’re probably asking what I did instead of voting. “Even Chrysler let all their employees have the day off to vote,” you say, “clearly it was an important day!” You’re right on one thing – it was an important day. Just like every single day of one’s life should be. In lieu of going to cast my vote for absurdity, I instead went out to make a difference.
Clementine hadn’t met me before, and I hadn’t met her. We were complete strangers. I had seen her picture and had read short bio online that her caregiver had written for her, and had decided it was well worth the time to seek her out. She didn’t want much, really, yet at the same time, it was everything we all need to survive -
- to be free from hunger or thirst
- to be cared for when sick or hurt
- to have a roof over one’s head
- to have appropriate space to call our own
- to have room to play
Given that this was the “home” that she was born into, anything that I could give her would be better than the world she first knew.
It wasn’t a puppy mill, but it was just as bad. In more outlying areas (not exclusive to Missouri), the unchecked mass breeding of domestic animals, especially hunting dogs, is acceptable. Leaving them under something that can’t even be called living quarters is also quite alright with the general populace. With Clementine, she was just one of about six that were rescued from this place. Luckily, her siblings were finding homes to go to as well, and Clem was one of the last of her litter to be rescued. The mother, however, is still reported to be at the same place as she is seen pictured in the above photo. It saddens and disgusts me so completely that it is legal in Missouri for this dog’s owners to abuse this dog in this manner (as well as many others) but it is a 5-15 year prison sentence if one decides to rescue this animal from the Hell in which it lives. It makes you think. And believe me, I thought a lot about it. At this point, I’m trying to make myself feel better by saying I couldn’t take care of both Clementine and her mother if I was in prison, but it just doesn’t sit well still, knowing that she’s still out there in the cold.
They always say that dogs pick their owners – not the other way around. Although that’s what the scum were doing at the farmland where the woman found Clementine and her family, it’s unnatural for that to happen. When I first locked eyes with Clem, held her, and then felt her tail wag, succumbing to the licks from her tiny tongue that came soon after, well, what can I say? It’s like she already knew me. It was a look of recognition. It’s a feeling that stays with you the rest of your life. I won’t lie when I said I had somewhat personal reasons to get a new dog. I knew that my other dog, Helo (also a Beagle), was longing for a new pack mate, as I saw him become depressed whenever any dog he was playing with left our house to go back to their respective homes. That being the main reason, I did have others, but they aren’t necessary to write about here. I felt driven to seek out Clem, especially at a time such as this.
The past couple of months have been a roller coaster for me, personally. I’ve been through a lot, and my wife (who is most certainly my better half) has been through a lot. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs. When they are up, they were really, really up. However, the downs were the worst I believe I’ve ever had. Experiencing a loss such as the one that she and I had was an experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve had a lot of things just in the past couple of months change me, and I don’t really think I’m the same person as I was when the summer started. I don’t feel content with thinking about the trivial anymore, although I understand that no two people define subjects as “trivial” in the same way. I can’t quite put it into words, fellow readers, but maybe Clementine is the mark of the new me. I rescued Helo in much the same manner as Clementine, but my wife and I knew that we really wanted a dog in our family, and Helo is, was, and always will be the best and most welcome choice of a new dog that we could ever ask for. To be quite honest, we really didn’t need another dog in our lives. Believe me when I say that sometimes Helo can be more than enough to handle, as he sometimes has a personality that can be bigger than life.
However, it isn’t about what we need in life. What we need to do is look after and care for one another, whether they can speak our language, or they’re not able to speak at all. We always comfort ourselves with thoughts such as “what’s best for me,” “what can make me happy,” or “how can I improve myself,” yet we hardly ask what’s best for someone else. Maybe that’s the true American way – gratuitous selfishness. I hope and pray that I’m not the only person who thinks that selfishness what we as a country need to change about ourselves and focus on instead of imagining that one person in the White House can magically fix everything for us. How many people can grasp the fact that if we really want to see this country change, if we really want to see corruption in our government disappear, if we really want people to be civil and express humanity to one another once more, then we need to change ourselves? I know the donkeys and elephants love to do this, but blaming each other for wrongdoings or failures doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to be the change we wish to see, and that can’t get accomplished by getting in a quarrel with someone over taxes or by debating how a woman’s body reacts to rape.
The last thing I want to do with this blog entry is to make you, my fellow readers, feel a sense of inferiority. Yes, I chose not to vote, and yes, I did something that I considered more important than participating in what I believe to be a train derailment that gets worse with each course correction one makes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to feel that way. If you truly believe that your vote mattered, and feel content with helping out society by voting, more power to you. I, however, cannot feel that way any longer, and hopefully by explaining myself in this post made my stance on the issue understandable. No, not everyone has the ability to rescue an animal, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t treat a homeless person on the street to a meal instead of waiting for the government to make a magical cure-all for the poor. That doesn’t mean that one can’t design a thoughtful and peaceful protest instead of wishing one could punch people of a differing opinion through a computer screen. Who knows – maybe I’ll be blessed enough to talk someone out of having an abortion. Maybe you, fellow reader, will be blessed enough to steer someone away from darkness. Whether that happens or not, the first step is to acknowledge the love that Jesus exhibited for us before and after He died on the cross, and aspire to show that love to others instead of being spiteful. I do challenge you, dear readers, that if you do vote, take action for or against what you believe in outside of the polling station. That’s where the real change will happen. That is where hope truly resides – in us, not the US.
The person whom I adopted Clementine from (and Helo, interestingly enough) tried to steer me into a political discussion by asking me if I had voted that day. I said that I hadn’t yet, without revealing that I had no intention of going out to vote (I’m becoming an expert of sorts at picking battles). Apparently the person took that as her invitation to endorse Claire McCaskill. “That puppy you have there, she’s a McCaskill pup!” and so on and so forth. While anyone with a sane mind can acknowledge that the puppy knows absolutely nothing about our political system nor cares about it, there is one thing that dogs can pick up on 100% of the time: love. In return, they exhibit it tenfold.
I wish humanity could follow suit.