09 November 2006

On Politics-- because you need ONE more opinion.

Some people say that if you don’t vote, you can’t whine. True as that may be, I’d say that even if you do vote, you shouldn’t whine. Here’s my logic—follow if you dare. You voted, you got your say, and just enough of the country believed differently than you that the decision didn’t go your way. Be this amendments or candidates, you don’t get to whine. Sometimes you side with the majority, and sometimes you don’t. Not being part of the majority of voters (not necessarily the majority of the country) does not mean that you didn’t have a valid reason for voting the way you did. For instance, in this mid-term election, VA voted on the amendment stating that marriage should be limited to legal unions involving one man and one woman. Some voted yes, and some voted no. The reasons that each voted the way they did may be equally valid, but the majority said yes. Will it do any good for people to whine to others about not having this go their way? No. But they’ll still whine.

The difference is between words and action. Do you break fellowship with friends and strangers to make a political point, or do you gracefully accept the reality of the situation and move on? I’m registered as a Republican. I tend to vote Republican, not because I’m registered as one, but because the Republican nominees tend to represent my views on a lot of issues. If I find a Democrat who believes as I do more closely than his Republican opponent, I’ll “break party lines” and vote for the guy who best represents me. The thing is that I’m not voting in a popularity contest and this isn’t a p!ssing match. This is our country. If we want to have a representational style of government, then we need to vote for the people who represent us, regardless of their political affiliations. With the turnover of the House to the Democrats and the possibility of the turnover of the Senate, many Dems are gloating about getting some “comeuppance” or other. The fascinating thing about it is that some of the Dems that got the highly contested seats are extremely conservative and vote along the same lines as I; they’re just registered as Democrats. I didn’t vote for them (since I’m outside their constituency), but that doesn’t mean they don’t adequately represent my view of reality.

I think it’s really fascinating how much mess was being thrown around with this mid-term election. The media made a big deal about this being a referendum on President Bush and the war in Iraq—both of which were well-supported initially. The fun thing is that we are just not used to having a politician be honest with us, and then keep being honest. The POTUS said at the beginning that if we went into Iraq it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be brief, because the fight wasn’t about the visible government this time, so much as the shadow organizations that the government was hiding. He, from the very beginning, made no bones about the fact that this was going to take time, thus the “stay the course” statement that got old after awhile. The reason he kept saying it is because it’s really the key. So we vote in a President who commits to a course of action that the overwhelming majority of the population supports, and then we remember that we live in the microwave society, and get fed up. We get someone in office who does not only what he said he was going to do, but also keeps the promises made by the previous occupant of the White House**, and everybody flips out. “Run, run!! Don’t you know that politicians aren’t allowed to keep their word?? Quick! Get somebody else out here, before we faint! We don’t care who, just somebody else! Even if they’re lying, cheating scumbags! We can’t have someone who actually loves our country and our troops running rampant. We’ve gotta try to hobble him!” So what do they do? They go to the polls in the mid-term elections and try to vote in enough democrats to change the make-up of the House and the Senate. They elected Democrats who fall on the same side as most of the Republicans. The message being declared by America, over an incredibly large bullhorn is, “WE WANT CHANGE… just not a big change. Just a little one will do fine. Let’s just change the name from Republican to Democrat. We still want our representatives in the House and Senate to vote the same way, but we want to call them something else while they do it.”

SO---> You voted, and the other guy got elected. According to my theory, you don’t get to whine. What do you do? You crack open those good-old lines of communication. If the new guy doesn’t tend to vote the way you’d choose, you write a letter or send an email or call his office. Let him know, respectfully, that since he represents you in the Senate (or whatever) that this is what you believe and this is how you’d like him to vote. NOW, this works better if you have an actual belief about a particular topic. Calling an anti-gun liberal to tell him to vote pro-gun is not going to help. If there’s a gun measure pending and there’s a reason you believe he should vote pro-gun on this particular measure, convey specifically and accurately WHY and how he can best represent his constituency. “Senator Nogun, I’d very much like you to vote yes on H.R. 47*. FBI statistics show that 92% of the time the possession/brandishment of a firearm by a citizen, when confronted by a someone with criminal intent, prevents crime. This means that in most cases, the gun possessed by the law-abiding citizen is not even fired. Furthermore, 86% of your constituency support this measure, according to ABC poll conducted by XYZ. Please protect our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms so that criminals are not the only armed people on our streets. Thank you for your accurate representation of your constituency.” You like/support what he does? Tell him. You don’t like/support what he does? Tell him. That’s the beauty of our form of government. You don’t have to be a Dem to speak to your Dem representative. You don’t have to be GOP to speak to your GOP representative. Nifty, ain’t it?? So if you hear me complain about a Democratic House, you have free rein to reach out and slap me on the back of the head while politely reminding me that it doesn’t matter what party “controls” our government—we control our country.

As I said before, there’s a difference between words and action, and whining to your co-workers won’t make any difference in the way your Congressperson votes, but making that call or sending that email just might. You must remember that what’s shown on TV isn’t necessarily the whole truth. News media have a job to do, and that is to sell newspapers, increase viewership, etc., and thereby, maintain continued gainful employment. Their job is not necessarily to accurately show reality. If they did show all of reality accurately, no one would pay any attention to them, because in reality, not everything is in imminent danger of blowing up or dying. Boredom does not garner support, so the news only reports what they consider stimulating. It’s more stimulating (negatively) to report that the sky is falling than it is stimulating (positively) to report that the fire department rescued that kitten from the tree. It’s more stimulating to report the body count in Iraq than it is to show that the majority of the country is peaceful and that the skirmishes are limited in range and severity and confined to certain areas of the country. (I know this because I know many people who have been in and out of Iraq during this conflict, a couple of whom just returned.) They also fail to report that the body count in this military action is much lower than any other armed conflict in recorded history, while the casualties are being treated more quickly and more accurately to produce better results and return more wounded (rather than dead) soldiers to their homes than ever before. Peace is boring. Dead bodies are exciting-- stimulating. They report the dead bodies. Likewise, relating to politics, the news will carry the story that half a dozen pacifists “converged” on city hall demanding that the recent gun legislation not go through long before they will carry the one about 86% of the population of their city owning and bearing small arms. They know that the “demonstration” will rile, or at least irk, enough of their viewers to an extent that they will continue watching the news, waiting for the next round of protests. It will also maintain the viewership of those 6 pacifists that protested at City Hall, because they’ll believe they’re making headway, just by being on the news. If an anti-gun legislator receives personally-written, well-worded letters from all 6 of those protestors, and sees them on television, but only receives one note from some guy named Jimmy Bob that reads, “Vote fur them gun laws cuz guns are cool,” he’s going to be more likely to believe that his anti-gun stance is an accurate representation of his constituency, and he’s going to sleep soundly after he votes no, while the majority of the people in his district go to bed fuming over their lack of representation. YA WITH ME?????

Ok, I know it’s getting hairy, but stick with me for just a bit. The last thing I’m going to talk about is the mud-slinging ads. During the days/weeks/months leading up to an election, you can’t turn on a television or a radio, or even walk down the street, without being faced with yet another political ad. The majority of them are negative and soul-crushing. Frankly, I think we should crack down on this nonsense and impose heavy fines for being obnoxious. If you can’t tell me who YOU are and what you believe, thus telling me whether or not to vote for you, I sure as HELL don’t want to hear you try to tell me who your opponent is, what he believes, and why I shouldn’t vote for him. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the ads from both parties are disgusting and should be removed from view. (I have a few ideas about where these things should be placed, if the respective candidates wouldn’t mind bending over…) Furthermore, the fines imposed for airing this rubbish should be stiff enough to make them feel it where it hurts worst—their own wallets. The party publishes a commercial smearing your opponent? YOU get to pay for it. You approve an ad that smears your opponent? YOU get to pay for it. Whoever stands to “profit” from the ad should be slapped upside the head and billed for the damage to the collective American Psyche, payment due immediately on penalty of jail time. I feel dumber and dirtier for having seen and heard some of the things that were aired by either party during these elections, and I’m running out of lotion, because all the showers I have to take after seeing these ads are drying out my skin. STOP THE MADNESS!!!!

Before you vote, do some research. Vote for the person who best represents you and who you think will do the best job of taking care of the interests of the country. Be responsible. Keep in mind that the person filling the job ultimately has to answer to you, and act accordingly. Be respectful of those in authority, whether or not they are your choice for those positions. Disrespect of those who occupy an office does not reflect poorly on them, just on you. Be kind. As Samuel Johnson once said, “To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.” I’ve quoted this poem that my mother taught me before, and I’ll say it again.

“I have wept through the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind.”

These are my official views. This is my blog. If you disagree, you’re welcome to do so… on your own time and on your own blog. :D
Much Love.

* H. R. 47: Citizens’ Self-Defense Act of 2005 “To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the enforcement of such right.”

** After the various attacks on the US (Embassies, the Cole, etc.) on Clinton’s watch, he promised that we’d track down the cowards. He didn’t but Bush did.

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