An Edge-of-the-Dime’s Worth of Difference

October 13, 2012

2008 popular vote by county. Brighter red repr...

2008 popular vote by county. Brighter red represents a higher percentage of the vote for McCain, while darker blue represents a higher percentage of the vote for Obama, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the last several months, especially after the Republicans finally settled on their candidate for President, I’ve been wrestling with what to do about voting in the upcoming November elections.  Here at home, it’s not a problem.  I like our governor and feel he’s done about as good a job as could be expected with what he’s had to work with. I generally vote straight Democratic for state legislature openings because almost to a man (or woman), Republicans around here are of the “get the government off my back and into your bedroom” persuasion.

As for our national Senators and Representatives, Senator Roy Blunt is not up for re-election this year (or I’d vote against him as I always have); Senator Clair McCaskill is running against the odious Todd Akin – no contest there; I will not vote for the Republican Representative whose district I live in and the one Republican Representative I would vote for, if I could, runs in another district.

So, other than a few other state offices and some ballot initiatives (not to imply that these are unimportant,) that leaves the Presidential election.  And, this is the one I’ve wrestled with the most.

First off, I’m an American.  I was born here; I’ve lived here all my life.  I’ve always considered voting and working for change important duties of my citizenship.  I still do, although working for change in this age of declining Empire means something different than it did in my younger years.  I will vote in this presidential election, because buried beneath that declining Empire, I believe there is still a nation and whether that nation survives the Empire’s decline may – just may – depend on who heads the Empire as that decline accelerates. Having made that decision, then, I wrestle with which candidate to vote for.

I’ve thought about voting for one of the third party candidates – either the Peace and Justice Party or the Green Party – but, quite honestly, neither has a chance in hell of winning and by the time either gained enough strength to have a viable chance, the party will likely be over (though that wouldn’t preclude me from voting for them for Congress or at the local level).  If there is any chance of enough change coming to at least hold a nation together while the Empire goes down, it will have to come from the Empire’s rulers because they think it will save the Empire.  It won’t, of course, but it might save the nation.

You may see that as compromising my principles.  I see it as pragmatic.  I’m not telling you how to vote here, only why I am voting for the person I will vote for in November.  You have already, I hope, done your own wrestling and come to your own conclusions as I write this.

I’ve often said here, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties when it comes to running the country, because neither party can let go of the illusion that the Empire is the nation. For the most part, I believe that, although I do think that if you stand that dime on its edge, you might find such a difference.  And in the end, it’s that slim, dime’s edge of a difference I see that finally decided which way I’ll cast my vote.

Let’s face it, either candidate, if he becomes President, will fight tooth and toenail to preserve the global Empire as long as possible – as will both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  Even if it means pressing for ever more authority to control their own citizens in the name of fighting “terrorism” to do it.  Even if it means saving the global financial system in the next crash, as they did in this last one, at the expense of ordinary people (here and around the world).  Even if it means saving the global corporate oligarchy at the expense of running roughshod over those same ordinary people here and abroad to find the resources – both natural and human – they need to maintain the Empire.  Even if it means sustaining a ravenous military at the expense of everything else in order to do all of the above.

So, where do I find that dime’s edge of difference?  I think it’s in the candidates, themselves, and in the party they chose to represent.  I think it’s in their two differing views on what we call social issues.

I deeply believe that where we are as a people when the Empire hits the next leg of its long descent is where we’ll be for a very long time as those descents accelerate.

Because of that, I have to take Mr. Romney at his word – whatever his religion may teach to the contrary – that he honestly believes nearly half of the people he wants to govern are leeches, who see themselves as victims entitled to a burgeoning series of government handouts.  That he believes they are doing real damage to people like himself and the wealthy donors he was speaking to at the time – and, therefore, to the Empire.  And that, as President, he will act according to this belief on issues of socioeconomic policies.

Just as I take President Obama’s word that, even though we need to prune some of these programs, there is a real need for a strong social safety net and progressive tax policies.  That, even when people do take responsibility for their lives, things can go horribly wrong, leaving them at least temporarily dependent on the government for help.  And, that as President, he also will act according to this belief on issues of socioeconomic policies.

Likewise, I take Mr. Romney (and his running mate) at his word that he will be a “pro-life” president, that he will defund groups like Planned Parenthood and work to overturn Roe v. Wade, that women are not smart enough or perhaps decent enough to be trusted with decisions about their reproductive choices and, that government – whether federal or state – must make those choices for them.

Just as I take President Obama and his vice president at their word that, despite their personal religious beliefs, they believe women must have the right to make those choices for themselves.

There are other issues, too.  What the government’s responsibilities are to those who are currently without healthcare; whether or not the government can exclude certain people from a right the State grants to other people, based on who that person – as a consenting adult – loves; whether the government has a duty to protect the voting rights of every citizen or has the right to set up laws that will inevitably exclude some citizens because they don’t have the right “proof” of their citizenship.

All of these issues will have to be addressed anew with each leg of the descent.  That is a given.  Some of them will eventually become economically unviable, even if they can let go of the Empire to save the nation.  That’s also a given. What matters is whether the government recognizes, even intuitively, that the crumbling empire is not the nation and what the tone of the government that addresses these issues will be in the light of that.  Will it be divisive, condescending, controlling – seeing the needs and rights of its citizens as a burden to be swept aside in a final grab for power – and transmitting that tone to the people?  Or, is there a slim possibility that it will be inclusive and as humane as possible – seeing the rights of all citizens as an obligation to be preserved, even when inconvenient – and transmitting that tone to the people?

There are no guarantees, of course, whoever you vote for or whether you choose not to vote at all.  But I do see, in the two main choices before us, that edge-of-the-dime’s worth of difference between the two candidates and their parties.  And, it’s that difference that has decided for me which candidate I’ll vote for in November.

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14 Responses to An Edge-of-the-Dime’s Worth of Difference

  1. xraymike79 says:

    Voting pragmatically is what keeps the indistinguishable and corrupt two-party system in place. Wedge issues are simply red meat for the populace to fight over and keep voting for “the lesser of two evils.” Core issues like U.S. militarism, wealth inequality and the destruction of the middle class, monied interests controlling government, climate change and a fossil fuel-based economy, as well as other environmental issues, etc. will stay the same between the two parties.
    Voting with your conscience is the right thing to do despite the belief that a third party has no chance. Registering your disgust with the system is the best action you can take in our faux election process that amounts to nothing more than a corporate auction.

    “The lesser-of-two-evils argument is morally obtuse, and dangerous, the first, because it means complicity with policies ultimately destructive, the second, because it induces an undeserved self-righteousness which next time around would yield further compromise. If the people are gulled and lulled into the acceptance of mock-democracy, courtesy of Goldman Sachs and waterboarding apologist Brennan, with Obama presiding over the bread-and-circuses routine, heaven help us.”
    ~ Norman Pollack

  2. Redreamer says:

    the fine knife point of difference IS the personalities and predilictions of the individual’s in power as President. While i for one believe that the position has little room for big change…. it definitely has room for personal interpretation of that role. Yes. I agree in whole with your approach. I get it.

  3. graveday says:

    That guy, Norman Pollack, is intellectually obtuse and a self-righteous twit. I think he has forgotten about which party appointed the shitstains on the subprime court. That alone is the biggest issue long term.
    And if either possible prez took a bullet to the head, the one that puts Ryan in power scares me.
    So, yeah, what Linda said.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Mike, Wendy and Grave. Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I had to go offline to write this reply because my cranky old computer stalls out when I try to post a lengthy reply. So I have to write it, then copy and paste.

      Thanks for the article. While I agree with Pollack’s assessment of where we are, I guess my response would be, “Yeah? Duh.” We live in an Empire – one we all helped build over the last seventy years and, frankly, were THRILLED to do it. Unfortunately, we built it on cheap oil and cheap labor courtesy of the third world. Now that the cheap oil is gone, the cheap labor took all our good jobs and the Empire is crumbling around the edges in slow decline, those of us who finally see what’s happened are yelling, “Hey, we gotta save our democracy from all these corporate-bought republicrat fascists!” Sorry, too little, too late. We’re all stuck dancing with the ones what brung us.

      In the end, Pollack’s answer is no more “principled” and every bit as pragmatic as mine. Where I’m saying, I’m going to vote for Obama because I think the democrats are more likely not to totally crush the prols in the rush to save a dying empire, he’s saying, no, vote for Romney because then things will get so bad, the prols will finally rise up against this fascist empire.

      To which I say, And do what? Does he really think Romney would be any less likely to send in the troops (metaphorically or literally) than Obama would?

      I know it sounds romantic to point to the body of your child and say, “He died fighting the Empire.” In reality, it sucks eggs. It’s way past too late to change the Empire in any meaningful way. Those republicrat fascists have a death grip on it. The Empire will have to run its course, as all empires do. Honestly? I’d rather have the chance to look at my living child and say, “He’s helping build something here, under the nose of the Empire, that just might save the nation long after the empire’s dead and gone.” But that takes someone leading the empire that’s not too quick on the trigger with the proles, some time and some quiet pragmatism on the part of the proles. And, of course, you have to be alive to do it. 😀 So that’s my take on Mr. Pollack.

  4. Pingback: Voting the “Lesser of Two Evils” is a Wasted Vote for the Status Quo « Collapse of Industrial Civilization

  5. theozarker says:

    Hi again, Mike, no insult taken. And I’ll post my response to your article at both your and my blog and hope it’s as articulate as yours and kramerfaust’s are.

    First, let me be clear that I am not voting in this election in the hope of changing the Empire one whit. It won’t happen. Even if Jill Stein were to win 99.9 % of the votes and become President, it would essentially change nothing because there are no green candidates running at the local and state levels to back her up in Congress and, honestly, Congress would eat her for lunch. Period. Look at the Libertarian party. It’s been around for fifty-plus years, backed initially by the money of old daddy Koch (papa of the Koch brothers), has a party structure at both the local and state levels, runs candidates at the state and national level every election cycle and has gotten basically nowhere in those fifty years. Why? Because right from the beginning, the Empire labeled them kooks and extremists and the label stuck. Whether they deserved that label is a matter of opinion. Even the Koch brothers gave up on them and began throwing their money into think tanks and PACs that supported the Republican branch of the Imperial political machine. The death grip of the “two-party” system is only going to get tighter as the Empire continues its decline (unless it should be to the Empire’s advantage to allow some powerless, rigged version of a third party at some point). That status quo is not going to change, whatever we do.

    Like it or not, as I said, we’re stuck dancing with the ones what brung us. That’s reality, as far as I can see, whether we want to admit it or not. So, we can throw our votes away as a protest by not voting at all. We can throw our vote away by voting for a third party candidate. Or we can (not quite, in my opinion) throw our vote away by doing exactly what the Koch brothers did, putting it where we think it will give us, individually, the (slightly) better advantage as the Empire continues/accelerates its decline. And, as I pointed out in my blog post, I see that slim, edge of the dime’s worth of difference in the two parties’ approaches to social issues. The Republicans will immediately gut every single part of the social safety net – from so called “entitlements” to tax breaks – in hope of saving the Empire. The Democrats will eventually have to do the same, for exactly the same reason. But they will do it more slowly and that is the teeny, tiny advantage for us that I see in casting my vote at all, this election.

    I don’t give a tinker’s damn about the Empire. I do give a very large damn about the ordinary people of the nation that are being crushed on the Empire’s way down. If going “democrat” in the political machine for a little while longer will give them even the smallest bit more time or money or whatever to prepare for what’s coming, I’ll hold my nose over those other policies of the Empire that neither side is going to change and vote for Obama.

    Cop out? Maybe. Cynical? Definitely. Pragmatic? I sure hope so. Thank you both for a vigorous exchange of opinions here. I appreciate your points of view.

  6. graveday says:

    Vote for the necessary of two evils. I like that better as a phrase, Not that I like having to say it.

    • theozarker says:

      Hey Grave, sorry I missed your comment until I went to post today’s blog. (Nothin’ slow about this old gal. 😀 ) Sad thing is, I’m still not sure which is the lesser or the necessary evil!

  7. Pingback: An Edge-of-the-Dime's Worth of Difference | The Conflicted Doomer … | ObaMagic

  8. graveday says:

    Linda, it came four days after your last, and cogent, post. That’s how long it took me, so against your one day, who is the slow one?

  9. graveday says:

    Thanks, I’ll pick up the prize in a year or so.

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