Every four years like clockwork there’s a major campaign designed to guilt people into going out to vote. And every four years like clockwork we’re presented with a choice between two of the most detested humans on the planet. In 2020, it’s more of the same.
Even the exceptions, like Obama and McCain, who were widely liked and respected by members of both major political parties, were also divisive figures who invited ire. It’s a clear pattern — far too clear for the cause to be anything other than intentional design. And it’s past time we do something about it.
Inflamed rhetoric, reviled candidates, and party platforms that have no hope of ever being implemented: These are the hallmarks of American political campaigns. They succeed wildly at fundraising, the debates are among the most-viewed shows on television, and our politicians never accomplish a single damned thing bar pandering to the whims of the mob.
This next election will be between the forces of political correctness and a strict law-and-order camp. I’ll tell you plain: I don’t care for either. It’ll be yet another choice between two evils — one repressive fearmongering, the other repressive thought control in the guise of penitence. They’re both repressive.
It’s not the rank-and-file party members that are at fault here. The majority of Republicans are older folks, kind and generous though fearful of change and anxious to avoid the national bankruptcy which appears inevitable. Most Democrats are younger idealists who see a world full of problems that desperately need to be solved, and they’re willing to try new things — even if they might be a bit risky, because the alternative compels action. We’re not talking ill-willed people here, nor even unreasonable.
The candidates too are, in many cases, similarly well-meaning. State and local government is filled with sincere people willing to give up careers and normal lives in order to serve the public interest. Certainly in some places there’s corruption, notably in cities like Chicago where it’s built right into the system of government. But these are the exception. The worst that can be said of most state legislators is that they’ve grown too old in their duties to be able to function in the real world, and so they’ll occasionally compromise their values to stay in office. That same pattern follows in the national congress as well, House and Senate both.
We’re not talking vast Machiavellian levels of evil here. At worst there’s some incompetence, a bit of misguided ignorance, and a fair degree of self-centered venality. But these alone wouldn’t be enough to lower our national politics to their present level of putrescent decomposition alternating with periods of rigor mortis. That requires effort — a lot of it, coupled with some serious hard work. It’s not a simple conspiracy, but rather entrenched organizations acting for their own benefit — and against ours.
This isn’t all that much of a stretch if you think about it. If a group dedicated to fighting a given social ill were to actually solve the problem somehow, it would put them out of work — so, despite the well-intentioned efforts of so very many committed and idealistic volunteers, their efforts are often organized in such a way as to be ineffective and even counterproductive. This is why the NRA rarely compromises even on sensible gun control measures that the majority of their membership would approve. It’s the reason environmentalist causes embrace the most Quixotic struggles against unbeatable foes. They exist to do battle; fixing things would end that.
I’ve long found it curious that hunters — conservationists to a man — and environmental advocacy groups so rarely act together within the vast acres of common ground they share. Instead, they get drawn off on side struggles that tend to alienate one another, taken over by the fringes of their own groups to end in futile failure rather than productive cooperation. Michael Crichton suggested that environmentalism is actually a religion, and there’s something to that, but to my mind it’s less dogmatism and more suggestibility — not only from environmentalists but also conservationists, and more generally that it’s a factor common to all of humanity. We’re easily led astray, my friends.
And so I’d like to suggest that we work against that trait. It’s doing us no favors whatsoever. Instead, tell yourself this:
A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.
In this next election, don’t look at the party but instead the person. See if they’re honest and reasonable. If not, find someone else; if there’s no one else, go third party or, if your state permits it, find a write-in name. Do this up and down the ticket, including for president — and if that means you vote for Jo Jorgensen, then God bless you: vote for her.
And if you can’t even be bothered to do some basic research — please, for the love of God and all that’s holy, don’t vote. Leave the decision to people who give a crap.
Apart from that, there’s not an awful lot we can do about it at this point aside from voting in November. There’s a couple of primaries left, but that’s it.
Besides, our problems won’t be solved by the results of the 2020 election. Trump is actively regressive; Biden is aggressively status quo combined with impossible platform positions. Whoever wins will be facing a groundswell of opposition in 2022, and that’s where informed and committed citizens can make a difference.
You see, every two years the entirety of the House of Representatives gets replaced. Every member faces an election. And it’s in the House that our federal laws get formed.
There are some really horrible people that run for Congress and win year after year. People talk about term limits, but that’s not how our system was designed to work — that’s just a way for California to decide who wins in the Tennessee First. Besides, it’s guaranteed to cause a bitter fight, it won’t happen, and won’t fix anything even if it does. That makes it exactly the sort of distraction that feeds only those in power.
Instead, start now. Find someone you like for the job who might possibly run for office. They need to be intelligent, articulate, and willing to consider ideas on their merits rather than follow the party line. Encourage them to run. Volunteer for their campaign; contribute to their war chest.
This doesn’t have to be a lawyer. A brilliant history or social studies teacher at the local high school would do brilliantly. Perhaps you’ve got a preacher or Sunday School superintendent who needs some time off from the church. Maybe you know the one honest car mechanic in three counties. You might have an insurance broker who cuts deals for the poorest people on his list or the owner of a sandwich shop that feeds homeless people for free out the side door or the one lady on the street that’s everyone’s mother. You know some good people. Get them together and figure out who’s gonna take the hit for the team — and have them run for office.
It also doesn’t have to be for Congress. Towns need schoolboard members and councils and mayors. States have legislatures that desperately need good people, and all they get are lawyers whose practices failed from want of energy. All politics is local; you can make it happen.
And the time to start is now.
I believe in you. You can make this happen. I’ll do what I can to help.
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