Choices

It’s Election Day in the United States and (hopefully) most eligible voters living in this country have already cast their ballot. I did. Though hardly an expert, I consider myself reasonably informed about issues and candidates. I keep up with news from a variety of sources even though there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to digest all the music I want to experience.

But facing my choices this morning, I was confronted with names of people I’d never heard of. At that critical moment in the voting booth, how could I possibly have made an informed decision? Who was best qualified to do any of these various jobs? Who among the people vying for these jobs held views that were closest to my own on the pressing issues of the day? How many people voting today actually knew the names of someone running in every race on the ballot? And if only a small minority of people voting knew whom they were voting for, how could the implementation of the results of such an election possibly be construed as either a fair or adequate way of determining who should get these jobs?

In some cases, I voted based on party affiliation; in others, I didn’t toggle a lever for anyone at all. In that moment I suddenly felt a kinship with the imaginary folks in so many classical music critics’ articles who feel bewildered by unfamiliar names in a record store or on a concert program and who, as a result, only stick with the names of people they already know. In some way, Amazon.com’s “If you bought this, you’ll also like that” feature would then be akin to party affiliation. But just as in politics, these connections sometimes don’t pan out. A few years ago, after buying a bunch of Gertrude Stein’s experimental writings from Amazon.com, I kept getting entreaties for me to purchase The Joy of Lesbian Sex.

Alas, we are living in an imperfect world. If only the choices made in the ballot booth were as innocuous as personal aesthetics. But then again I’m a happier person because I can never stop thinking about music. I’d hate to think of what my life would be like if I never stopped thinking about politics.

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