As I've stated before, I'm Canadian, so we don't have the "2 party" system that seems to cause so much consternation. That being said, our multi-party system doesn't seem to be a whole lot better, all it does is multiply the number of morons trying to run the country.
I had taken the same stand as you, but I've discussed it with my parents, and my grandmother, and they've said some of the same things that the other people have in the discussion, that Not voting isn't the answer. I know a woman here in Toronto who purposely spoils her ballot, to show her disappointment with the current political offerings. Perhaps in counting the percentage of spoiled ballots, they'd determine how unhappy we are. I don't know.
Being Canadian, we get as flooded as you Americans do with your political commercials (since we do get all the major US stations up here, and some of the not-so-major networks too (like WB, UPN, and even PAX) if you have an antenna), and because we are just about the 51st state anyway, I do try and pay attention to it. It WILL affect me (hell, if the US can get a Norweigan (sp?) kid arrested, imagine what they could do to a Canadian kid!), and that prospect frightens the CRAP out of me.
One thing that I do feel strongly about is campaign contributions, either in the US or elsewhere. Corporate Campaign Contributions should be banned outright, with severe penalties (perhaps even criminal) if you get caught.
corporations cannot vote, and so should not drive the direction of politicians. People should be able to donate (up to a maximum amount), and the candidate should be able to use their own money. If there is a candidate who is poor, they should be subsidised up to the amount used by the richest candidate, with the whole process being strictly and publicly audited. That way, the man from the "wrong side of the tracks" still has a chance to compete with the big boys on an even footing.
I'm not sure what the laws are on campaign financing in Canada, embarrasingly enough, and I'm also not sure about the lobbying laws up here, so I'm not sure if it's as corrupt up here as it is in the US.
On a complete side-note, would someone who understands this stuff please explain the whole reason behind lobbying to me? As I understand it, it's corporations buying legislation. That should be illegal, plain and simple, but as I said, I don't understand. E-mail me privately if you feel it's off topic, I'm just curious about it, as I don't understand.
I don't have any answers, however. The only thing that I can come up with is that I, and other people like me, like US, should run for office. We'd be like Ralph Nader, "not a snowball's chance in hell" as was previously stated, but if we sway one person this time, maybe we'd get 5 next time. I'm still struggling with this myself.
Is it enough to vote for the "least bad"candidate? It seems that they're all the same, either liars or openly trying to push the clock back 50 years, neither of which is the Right Thing(tm). I guess the only thing you can do is vote what you feel, not what you're told to feel. If you don't like Dubya, and you don't like Gore, then perhaps Nader, or Brown. If they're all repugnant to you, perhaps the final choice is to purposely spoil your ballot, to show your complete disgust with the current political offerings.
It's been said that the people least suited to a political office are the people who want that office, and as cliché as this is, it really does seem true. Man that's depressing.
I wish I could help more. Perhaps if I get elected I could!
Vote Adam Scriven in 2004!
This is my .sig. It isn't very big. (an oldie, but a goodie)