Sunday, October 26, 2008

recycled political spew

Mmm...I'm starting to like this thinking about politics thing. My brain has needed the exercise since I got out of school. Here are my thoughts in response to Chris's recent blog on political power. Please forgive the elevated speech. It just seems to be the language of my brain on politics, I didn't mean to sound pretentious...

(please read the original blog before you read my answer)

As usual you've clearly articulated some very good thoughts here, Chris. I love the quote from Thoreau. And of course Gandhi's is one of my all time favorites.

chAng, I have to agree with Chris as far as the political power we hold. Voting and jury duty? What about lobbying? How do you think the barons of the oil industry and all the other corporations we love to hate have gotten their interests so deeply engraved in legislature?

And what about the countless, tireless social reformers who spoke up and marched and entreated and wrote letters and boycotted - and those who continue in their tradition today? Chris I'll add to your list of victories one we'd all rather forget - what about the Prohibition?

Voting is only the beginning - the infant's first step - to enacting change. With this in mind, I have to hand it to your precious Obama - he comes a hair closer - with his campaign - to inspiring people to direct, grassroots action than any presidential candidate I've known. If only I could believe that, once in the white house, he won't simply put his feet up, turn to all the grassroots leaders who have fought so hard for him and say "Thanks for the hard work guys...I'll take it from here."

I was surprised by the conclusion you drew from your "approach to voting," which isn't fundamentally different from mine. Issues change, after all - I want someone who will confront whatever issue is at hand from the perspective I am most fundamentally aligned with - this is the person I can trust. However, you threw me for a loop when you said this is an argument against third-party voting - I had seen it in support of a non-bipartisan system! After all, what is one supposed to do when the two dominant, prepackaged standpoints are closer to each other than they are to mine? (Therein lies the difference between us, Chris...)

And laying aside all the issues the Dems and Reps are virtually ignoring, how are any other viewpoints to be heard at all, much less represented in government, when most everyone in power was handpicked as the truest shade of red or blue? What progress can be made in debate between two parties for whom all issues are settled, who have already made up their minds? Sure, they'll listen to those with whom they those whose concerns they've allowed onto the table.

After reading your post and thinking it over, I am only more deeply convinced to vote third-party. (Regardless of whether another candidate more accurately reflects my views). If the biggest problem with the third-party vote is what we all three agree it is - not enough people believe the system can change - then it is even more imperative that I use my vote as more than a vote - as a voice for change.

Political scientists are already beginning to notice the shift - more Americans are claiming themselves as independents and straight-ticket voting is decreasing. As the aggregate of third-party votes rises, Americans, in typical fashion, will realize that "other people are doing it, I guess I can too." It will compound on itself and more and more people will begin to consider non-bipartisan politics as viable and possible. I'm not sure what other actions, legislations and paradigm shifts will have to take place, but I am compelled to, if nothing else, take that first baby step. do I continue my research on third-party presidential candidates, go work on my Halloween costume, or watch Heroes? Decisions decisions.


  1. I guess I'll cross-post my comment over here too, and thanks for the plug for my post. Also thanks for the nomination over at the Spark.

    Thanks for the kind words Lydia. I should specify, I'm not against 3rd party voting if it's part of a larger strategy of political activism. I actually think that local elections are especially ripe for 3rd party wins. Enough local wins could (in theory) move that particular party to national prominence. I don't however think it makes much sense to start at the highest office in the land and work down.

    If I actually voted by my true political ideology, I'd be voting Green Party or some sort of progressive worker party, and if I had that option in local elections I certainly would vote that way. As it stands though, hoping for a progressive 3rd party to get a foothold in SC is like hoping for rain without clouds. Still there are some interesting things happening here in the Hub City so I suppose anything is possible.

    I guess you could say we're not that far apart really. I'm not totally convinced that Barack Obama will really be in the corner of those activists who worked so hard to get him elected, but I'm sure that if McCain gets elected the issues I care about will be ignored in exactly the same way they've been ignored for the last 8 years. The Democratic party isn't perfect. Bill Clinton did his fair share of ignoring progressives during his years too. That's why I voted for Nader instead of Gore in 2000.

    I believe the real work for all of us will begin after the election. If Obama wins, his feet must be held to the fire in order to make sure we can get the ball moving in the right direction.

  2. I like it. :)

    Political rants are fun but messy. That's why I did mine on your blog earlier...


  3. Thanks for leaving the mess on my blog so yours can stay "clean." :P

    Chris, I agree it makes more sense to start local, but like you said, we obviously don't have that option here in SC so I'm doing what I can...

    You're right about keeping the future president's "feet to the fire" too. Whoever wins, thanks to this election I have a stronger desire to be actively involved in holding the president accountable throughout his term.

    Something I read in Time today made me feel much better about the practically inevitable: "There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy...That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office..." - Sen. Obama

    (ok mr. man, we're going to hold you to that!)


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