(With apologies to Carl Sagan and his chapter, “Blues for a Red Planet,” in Cosmos.)
Tomorrow (2 November 2010) is election day, and I’m having the blues. Here and elsewhere, I’ve been calling myself a moderate libertarian. By that, I mean a belief that individual liberty is both a fundamental right and a necessity, while at the same time recognizing that government–in other words, the collective–has a limited role to play. I’ve spent enough time watching government in action to wonder if it can ever live up to its role, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Do understand that I’m not bothered by the mudslinging. People have been complaining about “negative advertising” for as long as I’ve been paying attention, but a lack of civility is nothing new. In the beginning of our country, candidates routinely accused their opponents of all manner of wickedness. Campaigns are a brawl, and that’s as it ought to be. Those who can’t take a bloody nose and aren’t willing to give one in return don’t belong in the business of running for office.
What does trouble me is the insipid nature of today’s politics. We have real problems that must be solved. National debt, climate change, energy, pension reform, the role of America in the world–these are issues that will take decades to resolve. Of more immediate concern, we will hover near ten percent unemployment for years to come, the healthcare system is still a mess, and we appear to be giving up on Iraq and Afghanistan.
What do the candidates offer? Republicans promise to cut something, while Democrats assure us that they will spend some money. If you believe either party’s rhetoric, I have some land a few miles east of Daytona that I’d like to discuss selling to you. When Republicans are in power, they cut taxes and increase spending. When Democrats take control, they spend even more money on bloated programs that are lacking in both brains and heart.
So where does this leave an intelligent and concerned voter? My advice is to support third parties for now. The Republicrats screech that doing so is throwing away one’s vote, but that’s only the case when a majority of voters believe it to be so. We are not obliged to support the lesser of two evils. The founders of this country burdened us with a system that favors two parties, but ultimately, we make the choice. We can vote for the candidate who actually represents what we believe. Nevadans are even offered the option of voting for none of the above.
In the race for Arkansas’s U. S. Senate seat, I’m voting for John Gray, the Green Party Candidate. I don’t agree with everything that he supports, but I do like a lot of what he has to say. His positions sound much like mine, supporting individual liberty, while offering collective help where needed. I do want to punish Blanche Lincoln for killing the public option in healthcare reform, but John Boozman wants to repeal the whole thing. That’s like supporting Attila the Hun because I don’t like the current emperor.
Beyond tomorrow, we must demand honesty and depth from our politicians. This requires work on our part. We have to pay attention. We have to write letters and articles and give speeches. Those of us who are suited for it have to run for office ourselves. We have to tolerate no soundbites and no talking points. Don’t vote for Tweedledumb just because his major party opponent is Tweedleincrediblystupid. Write in your own name when no better choice is given.
This is not pablum. All the money and campaigning and advertising comes down to each person’s vote. We do get the government that we deserve, and it’s time that we deserve our potential.