Monday, October 22, 2012

Vote for someone who doesn't claim the authority to kill you. Builds character.

On Monday, September 17, the Obama administration won a court battle to maintain their authority, under the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, to indefinitely detain without charge or trial anyone that the administration determines to be an enemy of the state, specifically including citizens of the United States. The Obama administration believes, as did the Bush administration, that it has the authority to kill, without due process, any US citizen that it determines (privately, of its own accord) to be a terrorist threat.

Barack Obama and the Democrats and the Republicans passed the NDAA. Mitt Romney supports the NDAA. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, the Democrats, and the Republicans passed, supported, or reaffirmed the Patriot Act, and will do so again in the future. The federal government, over multiple administrations, has failed to respect the right of its citizens to due process as outlined and guaranteed by the Constitution. Failure to respect the rights of the citizens to due process effectively invalidates the other rights recognized by the Constitution, including those specified in the first amendment.

Instead of discussing these relevant facts, Mitt Romney will try to tell you that he loves capitalism, the middle-class, and freedom, more than Barack Obama does. Barack Obama will try to tell you that he loves capitalism, the middle-class, and freedom, more than Mitt Romney does. They will try to feel their way to your vote, and as long as you vote for one or the other of them, you are allowing yourself to be swayed by a carefully constructed "vision" of our future that you are perfectly allowed to appreciate, but one that entirely ignores the fact that on the actual matters of hard substance, the two parties rarely disagree. They appear to disagree, because of their competing "visions," but they don't actually disagree, not in practice.

In practice, it doesn't matter if Barack Obama thinks gay marriage is okay, and it doesn't matter that Mitt Romney disagrees with him, because they're in absolute agreement that their administrations should have the legal right to stuff people--gay or straight or married or not--in prison without charge or trial, should they will it. In practice, it doesn't matter if Obama wants to pay for your birth control or if Mitt Romney doesn't want to use federal funds to pay for your abortion--not as long as both believe in the authority of the executive administration to assassinate citizens and non-citizens alike without public charge or trial. In practice, it doesn't matter whose "vision" makes you feel good inside, or nauseates you to your core--not as long as both visions quietly share the same despicable foundation.

Every election cycle, the media and the politicians tell us that this is the most important election of our lifetime, and that this time, it's serious. Don't vote for that third party candidate that you actually believe in--the stakes are just too high to mess around with any of that sort of integrity, this time. You must vote for either the Republican or the Democrat because their competing "visions" of the future are so stark that this election is a referendum on the foundational principles of this nation, and you must decide which of these two candidates makes you feel America more.

Republicans will tell you that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Obama. Democrats will tell you that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Romney. They both will tell you that nothing less than the fate of our nation is at stake, and that you're putting your nation at risk by voting for the other guy, or failing to vote for their guy. All they care about is keeping Washington a see-saw affair, ensuring that every two or four or eight years the balance of power will swing back to their side, and they'll get to drive the bus for a while.

A vote for a third party is an absolute waste, if you think about it strictly in terms of winning and losing elections. Your candidate will not win, if you vote for a third party. Who cares?

Don't worry about the Future of the Nation. Don't worry about the State of Our Ideals. Don't worry about the Competing Visions of Our Future. These are pointless concerns, and so far beyond our control that if you stop to think about it for a second, it is quickly revealed as farce.

A vote for a third party is throwing your vote away, but only if you imagine that a vote for one of the two top candidates has any actual meaning beyond codifying your willing participation in a meaningless shell game. A vote for a third party is an act of integrity that says: I reject your farce. I reject your manipulation. I reject your empty rhetoric.

For that matter, staying home and not voting at all, probably, is a similar act of integrity--but I think action is almost always a more powerful statement than inaction. Staying home allows them to call you apathetic. It lets them say that you don't care, that you've opted out. It allows them to believe that you've given up your rights.

A vote for a third party is a statement. It may well be a statement uttered alone, in the dark, with no one but yourself around to listen--not unlike overlong blog posts, one could say--but a statement nonetheless. It isn't meaningless, not if it has meaning to you.

Maybe you think your vote for either the Republican or the Democrat has meaning, and that's all well and good. Act with purpose and reason and meaning, by all means! But I'm tired of hearing how meaningless it is to think and act--and vote--otherwise.

"No party holds the privilege of dictating to me how I shall vote. If loyalty to party is a form of patriotism, I am no patriot. If there is any valuable difference between a monarchist and an American, it lies in the theory that the American can decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn't. I claim that difference. I am the only person in the sixty millions that is privileged to dictate my patriotism."

--Mark Twain.