Like many Americans, I don't vote. Unlike many Americans, I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. There are several reasons for this and one that's near the top of the list is that I sincerely value my opinion. No kidding. I think of myself as a reasonable person capable of making an informed decision. Yet the whole idea of voting is based on the notion that we're all equal and so we all get a single turn at the ballet box - no exceptions. That means I'm supposed to get in line with some dolt who doesn't know if the sun goes around the Earth or vice versa but who can instantly negate my carefully considered judgment with a flip of his finger. Frankly, I don't see this as a good use of my time. And besides, there's always some other dolt (who read a different bumper sticker) waiting to negate the vote of the first. I say let them have their day and leave me out of it. However, give me a goodly number of votes - like say all the votes in Kansas - and then maybe I'd show up and tell them how I think things should turn out.

Then too, doesn't the whole process of listening to speeches and then electing somebody to office involve far too great a suspension of disbelief? Let's see, I'm supposed to pick a candidate based on what he says he's going to do if he wins. No legally binding contract or anything like that - I'm just supposed to take his word for it. Now I don't know about you but I kinda think that, put in the same position, I'd be willing to say a lot of wonderful things. Things like lower taxes and higher benefits come to mind. I might even take off my jacket, roll up my sleeves and say I'm ready to work hard for all Americans. Exactly why the prospect of perspiration on the brow of a politician in a high-tech, information based economy should attract voters I've never been able to figure out. And the one guy who did sweat a lot - Richard Nixon - he got impeached! Anyway, with all the power and money, free travel and even freer women at stake, has it ever occurred to anyone besides me that under such circumstances a person might just be apt to bend the truth a in: Lie Like Hell?

But hey, let's say that I do have all the votes in Kansas and let's say that there's proof positive a candidate is 100% sincere...I'm still not going to vote. Why? Because even if I could make a difference and even if I was a true believer, I still couldn't tell what someone would do in office. To tell you the truth - I don't know what I would do in office. Put a few drinks in me, get my wife mouthing off like she sometimes does and I might just nuke myself a few Ruskies. Look at a guy like JFK. He almost did just that and Lord knows he should have been mellow-city always getting way more on the side than his average Fellow American. I do suppose though, once ensconced in a big office with somebody playing Hale to the Chief in the background, that I'm going to want to stay. What is it they say about power corrupting? I remember my first time in a limo. I was delighted to play with all the buttons. I remember my last time too. The damn thing was ten minutes late and there was no %!^$# ice! I figure it's similar with a personal jet only more so.

So then I move into my second week in office and all the taxpayers are pretty much forgotten (as long as they keep paying their tax) and have now been replaced in my mind with really important how much I'm getting and how could I be getting more?

Way back in the 70's, I decided to go to Washington and see if I couldn't make myself welcome. I already knew a number of people there so I did a few lunches and got myself invited to a few parties. Soon I was sipping gin alongside guys who'd just come back from doing Meet the Press. What did I learn? Very simply, that the realities of the people holding political office are so far removed from the realities of the people standing in line to vote that the latter's time would be better spent talking to the cat.

But my time in the Capitol was well spent and I even wound up getting an Invitation to Nixon's Inaugural Ball! To this day, I still vividly recall the President of the United States looking me squarely in the eye and saying, "I'm so glad you could come Mr. Manson." Mr. Manson?

Years later, I received an envelope bearing the Presidential Seal (this time they got my name right) which contained an official photograph of another President taking the oath of office. The handwritten message read, "Thanks to your help this moment was possible. Ronald Reagan." I'm thrilled to have the picture. It's framed and hangs on the wall behind my desk. The only problem is, I could never figure out exactly what it was that I did to sew up the election. I know it had nothing to do with voting for anybody.

Whenever I mention the fact that I don't vote, people are always quick to tell me that I'm forfeiting a valuable asset. Every vote counts, they say, and I should covet the right. Baloney! If every vote is such a big deal, I'll sell you mine. I'll get a mail-in ballot and let you play Kingmaker. You can double your power, add 100% to your influence at the polls. Now, how much are you willing to spend for my vote? Well...that's exactly what your vote is worth.

About the Author

Stephen Mason

Stephen B. Mason is a psychologist, a former university professor, syndicated newspaper columnist and radio talk-show host.

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