May 10, 2004

Vote Your Heart Out

It seems to me that voting has taken on a weird nuance lately. On the one hand, it's such an important action when it comes to the complexion of our country, our states, and our cities. Whether or not you take it seriously, whether or not you vote, whether or not you agree with those who are elected or the policies and laws they enact, it affects your life. In an election year, that's something more people might want to take a moment to ponder.

On the other hand, voting has become almost like a hobby for us as a country. The "controversy" over phone voting on American Idol this year and last, and the enormous attention paid to the show and the winning contestants. Voting in countless polls online, everywhere from national news to local news (registration required), from entertainment to sports Web sites (or all of them if it's ESPN) on topics of the day. Add in the fun polls on blogs that I'm beginning to see more frequently.

It all takes on a casualness that I suspect caters to people wanting to feel important by weighing in on something without their vote having a lot of importance behind it, even if the subject is serious. It's a lot less mental stress to anonymously express your opinion on the current debacle in Iraq than figuring out if you want the bonehead you know versus an unknown quantity becoming the "Leader of the Free World" later this year, the results of which we all have to live with for four years or the next impeachment proceedings.

Then there are those popular feel-good voting opportunities where there's an outcome to the process, not just percentages posted on a site or read on the evening news like they're gospel, but it's in the spirit of being a philanthropist-by-proxy. It's a stroke to the ego to be able to think, "I'm doing this and someone deserving will benefit." Fairy godparent status with the click of a mouse! Who wouldn't like that?

Along those lines, I'd like to ask you make like a moral compass and point your Lord and Lady Bountiful selves to this opportunity to vote for someone to get a million dollars. Now, before you scoff about it being for some dumb reality show -- because if you haven't already voted, you're probably not a viewer and you're scoffing -- I would ask you to consider the power of that Robin Hood click. Whether or not you're a fan, you will be helping take a million dollars away from rich CBS (which has earned millions upon millions from the Survivor franchise) and giving it to someone deserving of their money. All at no cost, no jail time, and no tights for you!

Even if you didn't actually watch the show, you've probably heard of Rupert, the tie-dye wearing bear of a man who did back-to-back stints on Survivor. This is a man who not only deserved to win but if he'd been less of a nice person and more of a strategist, he would likely have his million already. So even if you really don't care one way or another, I'd like to ask you to go vote for him to get the second million-dollar check CBS will be handing out to one of the 18 players from the All-Star season this Thursday. You don't have to supply any personal information, you just point and click. It will offer you the opportunity to vote for some other things next, but it's not necessary if you're not interested. (Though it might be fun to skew the numbers by voting things without knowing anything about them!)

Go on, do it -- help a good guy and make a little notch on your karma belt.