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[Politics]

[politics] Election Day

First and foremost, if you haven’t already, go vote. Obviously I care passionately who gets elected, but your vote is yours, not mine. I’m not entitled to an opinion about how you vote, only about whether you vote. Even if you and I have diametrically opposed political views, I still think it’s critical that we both vote. Call me idealistic, but I never thought the way to winning elections was to discourage the people I disagree with from voting. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For Oregon voters, here’s some information on last minute voting.

Context for people who don’t live in Oregon or Washington: All our elections are 100% vote by mail. We don’t have Election Day polling places, though the county offices are open for ballot drop and for people who had trouble with their mail-in ballots. It’s a clean, simple system that seems to optimize turn-out with virtually no fraud at all. Sometimes there are problems with people who’ve recently moved and may have two addresses, but that amounts to a literal handful of votes statewide in any given election cycle. I don’t why all fifty states don’t adopt this system — virtually all the nonsense about voter ID laws and limiting early voting simply vanishes with this system. It also eliminates all the issues around polling places and staffing and having the right forms and so on. Clean, simple and fair.

If you favor universal suffrage and high turn outs, this system should be a model. If you don’t favor universal suffrage and high turn outs, then we don’t have a lot to talk about because I don’t agree with your profoundly undemocratic and unpatriotic values.

Note, per a brief discussion in comments yesterday with [info]ericjamesstone, that I do not favor some sort of permanent single party liberal-progressive government. I have no equivalent vision of the GOP’s triumphalist Permanent Majority. We need a balance of viewpoints and opinions in government, simply because no one is right all the time, and solutions which are sensible under one set of circumstances can be destructive under other sets.

Whether that balance is best provided by a two-party system is another discussion entirely, but that’s the system the United States has today. The only path I see to meaningful multiparty democracy in this country would involve a complete shattering of the Republican coalition. While I think that given the current nature of the Republican party that would probably be very good for the country, I find it unlikely to actually happen. There’s way too much money tied up in GOP interests, and the media is too deeply invested in both conservative aims in general, and in their own conservative ownership and management.

My issue with the GOP and the conservative movement isn’t their existence, or even necessarily their nominal aims as parsed through the lens of pre-Reagan conservatism. My issue is with the scorched earth, spoke-in-the-wheels style of politics the GOP practices in lieu of actually governing when they are in office. My issue is with the eliminationist politics of resentment the GOP absolutely relies on for votes, poisoning society and culture as a whole. My issue is with handing government over to people dedicated to drowning it in a bathtub, to people who believe that government is incapable of competence or effectiveness, and therefore govern incompetently and ineffectively.

The modern Republican party doesn’t have a different vision of government than I do. They have a contract out on government. If they were interested in reform, or an alternate vision for the future, we’d have something to talk about. But despite the high minded rhetoric they throw around to make themselves feel good about decades of wholesale political and social vandalism, the GOP is a party that wants to destroy the village in order to save it. A village we all have to live in, regardless of whether we vote or who we vote for.

To put it in SF nerd terms, the GOP has become Frank Herbert’s BuSab. And that’s good for none of us. Not even the conservatives so busy setting fire to the village they live in.

So, yeah, I voted for Obama. Because I’d like there to be a functioning American government tomorrow, and next year, and next decade.

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