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You Decide

by on May 8, 2015

                                                                You Decide

                                                          by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The comments sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.

“When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against themselves. It’s a remarkably shrewd and rather conservative arrangement when one thinks of it.”

John Kenneth Galbraith, (1908 – ), The Age of Uncertainty 12, 1977.

As surely as the Morlocks summoned the Eloi to dinner (H. G. Wells, The Time Machine 1895) we are now being roused from our presumed torpor, instigated to care about something, threatened with dire consequences if we don’t,  and treated to a growing menu of hors d’oeuvre candidates before the cyclical gluttony of the full-on political cannibalism of the main course has us choking back the gorge of our own compromised principles.  The rotisserie is turning, the chickens are lining up for the ride, all claiming to be the juiciest.   

Yes, election season has begun, it’s place between the bloom of allergy season and the beginning of tornado season being only coincidental.  One side is reiterating the Big Government is the Problem mantra, as did Ronnie, their Patron Saint, while campaigning hard to be Problem in Chief.  The other side is avoiding designer dresses, First Class travel and any knowledge of foreign financial input into related – as in, related, Foundations.  Other sides? 3rd, even 4th parties? No. True to form, a coin has only two sides and this one will come in a record breaking denomination.  The time to flip it draws near. 

But this paradigm is so hackneyed it has slipped below even that level of consciousness remaining among the electorate, the people who are supposed to line up for I Voted stickers.  And therein lies a whispered question: Given the premise that the vote is powerful, are the voters qualified to vote?  Because someone can legally vote, does that alone qualify them intellectually to vote? Try some related logic.  If the State declares that everyone, with the same provisos as are on voting. is legally entitled to carry a handgun does that make you comfortable that everyone is able to wisely use that handgun?  If not, in the case of handguns and of voting you have a problem.  And if you say, Individual votes don’t count much, it’s only the aggregate, you do two things: you dis-empower the vote (why not have a Coronation and avoid all the slander, half truths and lies of the coming months?); and, you by extension say laws intended to prevent acts of gun recklessness, vigilantism, and senseless killing may be reconsidered only when these acts reach an undefined threshold as an aggregate.   

Most of us have read past accounts of party foot soldiers doing recon & clear sorties through nursing homes, registering anyone with a heartbeat (and, of course, returning to help them with their absentee ballot), through taverns and door-to-door, through robo-calls taking us away from our pharmaceutical company sponsored evening news.  We are also aware of the historic and current other side of that coin, the hurdles placed between potential voters and the booth.  Although frank poll taxes are forbidden, the policy of State approved photo ID is tantamount to a poll tax for those who must pay for their transportation and/or their time off work to obtain the State document. Literacy tests?  Being able to read the words on a page does not necessarily translate into understanding the impact of those words on one’s life.  A Civics and Issues test?  And who provides the curriculum which presumably educates us so we may make informed choices? The candidates?  The dark money organizations filling the media with unaccountable lies, distortions and slander?  School teachers, such as the one recently caught telling her classes “Obama is not a Christian, and anyone who voted for him is not a Christian”?  She was only one who has gotten caught out.  What other trusted figures, teachers, clerics, media personalities are doing the same thing?  Where are the teachers who, without fear for their jobs, can point out and explain the difference between “big” government and intrusive government, can point out and explain that the very people who demonize big government are forcing policies of governmental intrusion between a woman and her physician, a person and their hoped for marital partner?

The presumption that simple achievement of a certain age (18) confers wisdom in decision making (voting) is, on its face, so baffling one cannot help wondering if the system is actually run by some cabal that lets the voters have their say, and then does what it wants to do. Since we cannot know all the other voters we can only accept the report that they exist, and that they voted the way they reportedly did.  A system not unlike George Orwell’s lotteries in 1984; it’s a secret, from the voting booth to the Oval Office.

Looking at the expressed wisdom of so many potential voters, of all ages, one might be tempted to hope for a benevolent cabal.  I live in a suburban county which prides itself on conservatism, even ultra-conservatism.  The county newspaper, for long a rather thin publication carrying the wisdom of such luminaries as Cal Thomas, Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer and others was consistently filled with Letters to the Editor mirroring the hatred of and lies about Obama and Democratic policies, claims of a “War on Christianity”, and devotionals to Reaganomics.  But as the bills for Bush era economic polices came due the paper swelled to the size of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  With what?  With foreclosure ads and notices, month after month, causing one to wonder just how many private homes there were in this county.  Yes, these noble and astute business men, who certainly knew better than any “liberal, pinko-socialist academics” could not keep a roof over their heads.  My subdivision, composed of significantly priced homes, became steadily dotted with abandoned homes and foreclosures.  A large corporation came in and bought most of them, posting swank “rental property” signs out front.  This wave across the county was long in breaking, and the newspaper is now even thinner than before – missing almost all the Letters to the Editor.  I am not sure of how this change in neighborhood demographics affects my property values, but I’m guessing it isn’t for the better. 

Americans like to invoke the image of Classical Greece as the wellspring of modern democracy, albeit diluted into representative democracy as the issues multiplied well past the occasional need for a general referendum.  Of course, Americans fail to remember, or never knew, that Greek democracy extended only to free males; the society existed on the backs of women, slaves, and children pressed into labor as soon as they could function.

That people vote more with their feelings (“values voters”) than with their minds has long been known.  That people conflate their hopes with their realities is less well understood, except by politicians who campaign on hope.  

Having seen more election cycles than I had thought likely, I remember often hearing “Well, they got the government they deserved.”  But while I can’t claim to go very far back into “simpler times”, I can say the stakes are clearly higher than ever before.  Current analyses all point to the United States being far more sharply divided than it has been in the history of election polling.  And the choices, between endless and ever escalating war versus re-examination of fundamental economic policies, between planet killing energy extraction and consumption policies versus development of alternative power sources, and between the ever growing and hardening divide between a tiny trans-national ultra-rich and the rest of us versus social and economic equity are far more likely to reap immediate consequences than any in history. 

The State of which my county is a part is known as the “Guns Everywhere” State.  Of course I have concerns regarding the untrained and inexperienced people around me who may be carrying loaded guns.  But I also have concerns regarding the ill educated people around me carrying loaded votes.

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9 Comments
  1. Ray Rivers permalink

    Marco nicely ties together the relationship between the freedom to vote and the right to carry weapons of assured destruction in a nation moving ever so slowly towards the door – some kind of door. But certainly the world is not the one he and I grew up in any more, even though we never grew up together – and I feel we must have.

    Democracy is more than casting a ballot – it is a way of life and that is at the heart of this thoughtful piece as America heads into the madness of another election cycle.

  2. Thank you, Ray. I infer from your comment that you well recognize that, while some may “get the government they deserve”, the rest of us have to live with it. I regret that although you live in another country, our U.S. foolishness will have consequences for your well being.

  3. It’s hard to read between the lies (no typo) to understand the real issues, and I agree whole-heartedly that an uninformed vote is as dangerous as no vote at all. My high school American history teacher (Robert “Bob” Franklin Harris, who went on to work for Senators Lawton Chiles and John Glenn) taught me how government is supposed to work, and instilled in me a love of being a part of the process. Despite this, I hate politics, and have only begun voting in the past few elections. This is not something of which I am proud.

    My parents were voters. My father was a staunch Republican; my mother kept her politics to herself until the curtain was pulled on the voting booth. I was (and am, I suppose) an independent liberal.

    Given the direction in which this country has been going, both socially and politically, this next election terrifies me. I will be voting, but unless a whole lot of thinking people join me at the polls (sigh!), this country had better get ready to ride the whirlwind.

    • Thank you, Rose. I entirely agree. Although part of me says I’m too old to care anymore, being a parent and a grandparent comes to the fore. I do not want my family to live in a theocratic/neo-Fascist state. I do not want them having to learn to cope with an environment which has been tipped beyond recovery. And while it is tempting to feel my views are skewed by living where I do, I cannot fail to recognize that these issues have no regional boundaries. As an “off world” observer, I see ruin and despair as the more likely outcome.

  4. jkent33 permalink

    Marco, your portrayal of the current state of political affairs mirrors my mind so closely; it’s is if my thoughts were written as I read your account. My family has always been in politics so naturally I’ve followed suite. My beginnings were GOP all the way. This has been a tradition dating back as long as I was able to conjure history from my family members. I begin to record bits and pieces of my lineage, to develop a guide for my family to follow, as I constructed my branch of the family tree. I felt this was important to maintain the politics we represented in our personal and business affairs.

    I was proud to stand for the platform my forefathers established since migrating to the USA during the late-1700’s. This all changed during the VietNam war era which has lead me to follow extreme left-wing politics since that period. Beginning shortly after 911 I’ve grown restless with our leaders whose actions fail to impress me in many areas of interest. Since then I’ve developed a malaise of mistrust making me question even the smallest actions to learn how it may impact my life. A brief examination always brings up the same conclusions creating a feeling of negative impact on my existance as I now know it.

    I no longer see party lines designating candidates. Blurred differences lead to the same outcomes. The more I dig into history to find answers to my questions I learn little to give me solace. I’m specifically speaking about national politics. Local candidates leave me clueless to discover any trust in their leadership qualities.

    To summarize, I feel we have fallen back at least 150+ years to when all politics was ruled by wealthy captains of industry funding their own avarice driven interest. If I sound negative, so be it; if I sound angry, so be it; if I sound injured, so be it as well. My feelings will never make a difference any more than my vote will ever sway an election. However, you can bank on one thing; as long as I’m able to keep a lucid mind, I will never cease to speak my opinions both in and out of the polling places. My only hope lies in my courage to spawn the individual thoughts of everyone in my circle, to possess the same fearless courage, to speak out in any way they are able to remain free to do so!

    • Thank you, Jerry. It seems that more of us are waking to reality, but it also seems – in my dark moments, to be too little too late. Your mention of family again evokes my response to Rose: Were it just me, I might be able to turn my back and let the people get the government they deserve. But, as you rightly remind us, we will all – all the members of the community of life here on Gaia, have to live with the government we get.

      I hope you forward my blog as a site – http://www.mpardi.com – as widely as you deem appropriate. Thanks again, Marco

  5. jkent33 permalink

    Rest assured your gospel is spread among my small coterie of influence!

  6. diannejoydiamond permalink

    I came back to re-read the blog in light of my recent facebook post. It is true that many vote who have no fact-based information to cast an intelligent vote. But I was speaking of those who choose not to vote at all because they deem there is no one out there worth voting for, that nothing will change. They are proud to be above voting. I hope I never become that cynical or that full of myself. Because people can stand up for what is right. We can push some politicians to a more populist stand. But that will never happen with people standing on the sidelines.

    • Thank you, Dianne. I completely agree, though I sometimes wonder if the whole thing isn’t a charade orchestrated behind the scenes. Too often, except for McGovern, I found myself voting for what I thought was the lesser of two evils. It shouldn’t be that way.

      Thanks again.

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