October 13, 2012
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.