Category Archives: Politics

the big undo

Today’s “guest post” is shamelessly copied from an email I got from Lee. The words are his, but I share the sentiment. ~c

My friends (!) -

So you know how most of the world kinda wishes we could just undo Bush? Maybe take away the God-like power W gave to the presidency? Perhaps return some level of civility and worldliness to our approach to global enforcement? I see this happening in 3 steps:

1. Replace Bush with Unbush — DONE
Maybe a Democrat. An eloquent one. Ooh! And make him black. And from the north. And level-headed. And a good listener! Ooh, this is gonna be good!

2. Unmake Bush’s abusive laws YOU HELP HERE
Support Ron Paul’s “American Freedom Agenda Act”, which is seriously as close as I can imagine us realistically sending giant “f u” to Bush, and a pragmatic turnaround toward reason. I did, and it literally took two minutes. Don’t be lazy. It took longer to vote. I’ll even give you a note to copy-paste (thanks to Brad):

Please co-sponsor the “American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007″ (HR 3835). Undoing the damage done by G. W. Bush and his calamitous administration over the past eight years must be our single most important focus with the start of a new presidency and Congress. Please throw your complete support behind this bill to restore the American people back to the position that they deserve—the position that was created by the prescient and able founders of this nation.”

3. Repair the gaping wounds with the world and ourselves AWAITING OBAMA PRESIDENCY
I’m hoping our nation will become a citizen of the world again (not its parent), refocus on domestic programs, balance the budget, reinvent health care, etc. You know, the basics. Easy-breezy.

Like most of you, I’m not an email forwarder (to be fair: I wrote this). But I do suddenly find myself a proud, caring American. I’m eager to help, but I’m busy. This is how I felt good today. I just wanted to share that opportunity with my friends. Please help!


on pride and prejudice

I went to bed last night full of pride in my country’s ability to (just barely) choose reason over innuendo, hope over fear. This morning I’m still buoyed by the thought of an Obama presidency, but it’s dampened by some of the terrible choices my state and my city appear to have made. So on a day when the world congratulates us for moving past color, I have to wonder: what happened to California?

UPDATE: Ah. The Onion explained it to me. I guess California hasn’t hit rock-bottom yet.

HOWTO: cast a protest vote in California

Ted shared an article in Reason this morning: Not Voting and Proud. While I totally understand that “abstain” is just as valid a choice as any on the ballot, I think that Brian Doherty, the article’s author, makes a few missteps:

He sets up a false dichotomy between voting and otherwise helping out in the community. “So, this November 2, do the right thing for America: go to work and do a good job. Clean up some garbage on your street. Help a neighbor out.” The assumption is that I can’t do both. Yes, voting took some time. (For some people, it takes hours.) But I picked up trash yesterday, I’m going to work and do a good job today, and I’ll help a neighbor out tomorrow. Voting didn’t impede my ability to do any of those.

He invokes the paradox of an individual choice in collective action. “As the 2000 election showed, it’s not only effectively mathematically impossible that one vote could matter: it is politically impossible as well.” Doherty even hangs a lampshade over the obvious resolution:  “No American is responsible for the voting behavior of our countrymen; so don’t worry for a moment about what would happen ‘if everyone thought that way’.” There are better descriptions of how this paradox resolves, but I’ll invoke some examples: I picked up some garbage even though lots of people both litter and pick up garbage. I work even though my coworkers would take up some of the slack if I didn’t. I’ll help my neighbor even though there are a few other volunteers who plan to do the same. Why? Because each of us has been asked to make the decision for ourselves, so I make that decision as thoughtfully as I can.

He contradicts himself just by writing the article. “If you did control thousands of votes, the math might make it worth voting. But you don’t.” Ah, but how many people read Reason, and specifically how many like-minded people will be swayed by this particular article? The sheer fact that the article takes a tone of encouragement (“Don’t throw away your life; throw away your vote”) should discount the statement about “the math.” As another example, Ted recently asked friends to vote a certain way, “Assuming you vote. Which I don’t.” So it’s important enough to influence others, but not to actually state your preference when asked? I call shenanigans.

I posit that there is a way to vote in protest against voting, specifically in California. Using the ballot I cast this morning as an example, here’s how you could have cast a protest vote:

  1. Register to vote and/or get a provisional ballot (if you changed your mind at the last minute).
  2. Vote for any candidates or propositions that pass your “matters” test. (May be none of them, but I remind you there are Libertarian candidates on there, and local races often come down to a few votes’ difference.)
  3. Vote “no” on all propositions. (For those unfamiliar with CA propositions, that means “No, you may not change the law, change the Constitution, sell bonds, or whatever else you’re asking me about.”)
  4. Leave all other candidates blank, or fill in the write-in bubble and write “PROTEST” in the space provided.
  5. Give your ballot to the nice lady at the ballot box.

As extra credit for super-vote-protesters, you could also:

  • Attend the next city council / school board / mayoral meeting and participate in the process.
  • Next time around, attend the debates and ask really really hard questions. If you doubt this is possible, talk to Eric Bidwell.
  • Run for a seat on the city council / school board / congress and start disassembling government from the inside. (I’m sure Ron Paul would love the company.)

That said, your choice is your own. If that choice is to abstain from voting, I won’t harangue you further. I have more important things to do anyway. ;)