Thursday, September 30, 2004

 

Reason #4,287 why I hate Slate

As if Christopher Hitchens' blatherings weren't bad enough, the folks at Slate also seem to have created a niche for themselves as the ultimate in wacky "what if" scenarios and their mind-numbingly dull "explainer" articles. "What if Howard Dean were debating George Bush tonight?" is their thought exercise for today.... I just find the whole thing to be irrelavent, unfunny, and desperately wanna-be in its hipness and water-cooler-topicness.

But what I hate most of all is their damn economist, Steven A. Landsburg, who first came to my attention a couple of years ago with his stupid "Why do people walk on stairs but not on escalators?" article which pretended to be about marginal analysis but was really about how meaningless his life is.

I knew Slate had gone down the tubes at exactly that moment.

So when I saw his article today, "Dont Vote" - it was heartening to know that my habit of assiduously avoiding the damn online rag was still justified (notwithstanding my previous post about Hitchens). The most bothersome thing about it is his article is this statement:

The traditional reply begins with the phrase "But if everyone thought like that ... ." To which the correct rejoinder is: So what? Everyone doesn't think like that. They continue to vote by the millions and tens of millions.


The fact that he consciously ignores far better responses to his dorm-room mind game is quite telling. Why do I vote? Not because I think that my individual vote will make a difference, nor for some "if everyone thought that way" blah blah blah. I vote for largely symbolic - but incredibly powerful - philosophical and emotional reasons. I vote because I continue to believe in the viability of our fragile democracy - and the role of voting in that democracy, because I have some sense of honor and feel it would be hypocritical of me to encourage others (on a scale far belying my own vote's power) to exercize their right to vote, because not too many generations ago my forebears could not vote, and because I get a rush doing it. Much like the way some people get a rush playing the lottery or writing stupid columns.

The fact that he doesn't even consider the value people place on these "non-rational" motives tells me he's either ignorant or willfully disingenuous. I actually think the latter is more likely to be true. Judging from his other articles, I have a feeling he's just another asshole for whom our political system is a joke, doesn't matter, he and his cronies will be in the driver's seat, safe in academia no matter how it turns out. Or what's even more likely, he's a Republican who has discovered a new idea for trying to suppress voter turnout (after all, the "Don't vote" headline goes out to potential millions - if each of them took his advice...).

Look, to me it comes down to this: if I decide not to play lotto one day and my numbers come in that day, I will regret it for awhile. Maybe a decade. But I would NEVER forgive myself if, somehow, the presidential election this year DID come down to one vote in Illinois and I decided to listen to slate.com that day.

P.S. I walk on escalators almost every day, dipshit.

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