Just because you can't immediately identify anything America has done for you lately doesn't mean that you haven't actually benefitted from living here. Trade agreements? Food and drug regulations? Educational grants? And then there's national security. Ugly, underhanded, over-reaching... Effective. Like it or hate it, the US Iis still, for the moment, one of the world's primary powers. Which brings all kind of heat on us, not only as a nation but also, potentially, as individuals. You benefit from living here. The state provides some definite services for you as a citizen. It also does some nasty shit in your name.
Okay, I'm back. This is what I wanted to partially address, although I don't have the same thoughts in my head I had yesterday. I am the first to acknowledge that, cynical though we all are now, America is still the foremost land of opportunity. A disdain for the things many of us take for granted wasn't what I meant to get across at all. But the things being born in America has done for me don't equate to the things America has done for me. That's the difference, to me. America isn't a country that sets out to do things specifically for its citizens anymore, except for a very few with money and those over the age of 65. You can also, maybe, flip the argument around -- that a certain standard of living is America's duty to provide to those who live within its borders, pay its taxes, follow its laws. The truth is somewhere in the middle no doubt.
So why should that count as an argument in favor of "buying into the system?" Well, way I see it, it's less about condoning a reprehensible political structure, and more about taking some amount of ownership of that structure. Yeah, we benefit from living here. And that benefit, your comforts, we're built and are sustained on the backs of he less fortunate. Abstaining from the vote, in my opinion, isn't just kind of a passive-aggressive gesture (although I agree with humanodon- it's that too), it's incredibly hypocritical. To say something along the lines of "I'll continue to live here and accept all the wealth and security that American life affords, no matter the cost to other world actors... But I won't vote for the guys who help make the decisions that help secure my wealth and safety..." I mean, that's a denial of culpability, isn't it? That's accepting the service without paying the tax.
Hmm. Well, I do deny culpability. I'm getting out as soon as I financially can (and if I'm still here, it's because so is the best higher education in the world -- which also has its price; there's always a price). In the meantime, I'm politically efficacious. I help the less fortunate in far more direct and useful ways than voting. In short, I do what I think I can to help -- voting doesn't help. Abstaining from the vote can be a gesture, and is for some people, but I've said elsewhere in the thread that it's not for me; it's just acceptance and rationality. I do vote locally. If there was ever a presidential candidate or congressman whose views dovetailed with mine to a high degree of correlation, which finally happen in 2050, he or she'd probably get my vote, pointless as that would be. But I refuse to vote for the lesser of a few evils, as someone above said. That's tacit acceptance of the shitty public servants we have today.
The last thing I guess I have is a response to your post in general -- the system that benefits me that you keep referring to ... I'm not seeing it, really. Everything in America has a cost (yes, even security -- America is not uniformly the extremely safe place you make it out to be, and living in one of the safe parts costs more), and I pay that cost, whether through taxes or what have you. I owe this country taxes for its public infrastructure and access to utilities, of course (although as an environmentalist in Texas I could talk your ear off with horror stories of toll roads, reservoirs and eminent domain). Beyond that ... it's a contract, we each fulfill our sides, and I don't see where voting comes into the picture. I pay the cost to live here, I accept the benefits, and I leave as soon as a reasonable opportunity arises to do so. Thoughts?