06 November 2012

The Lesser of "Who Cares?"

I did the Illinois/Chicago thing and voted early — by mail a couple of weeks ago, in fact — but I'm still working on the "often" part...

This has been a particularly disappointing voting season. For one thing, I didn't manage to bag my limit of politician/rentseekers. For another, we were confronted with the real margin of error in every recent election: The party leaderships' choices of candidates. At the top of the ticket, this has been more apparent among the Heffalumps this year, both federally (President) and in subordinate political units (state and local). This points toward the thing that voters who are members of political parties can do if they're not satisfied with the choices put before them (e.g., those Heffalumps who preferred John Huntsman and can't abide by any of the other neoisolationist candidates): Vote — at the local, state, and national levels, in "elections" completely unregulated by any electoral authority — to replace the "party insiders" who control access to the ballot.

I'm dissatisfied with this election because none of the candidates on the California ballot for President qualifies as a liberal. I don't even have the opportunity to waste my vote! The closest is probably the Green Party candidate... but the ethics behind that party, and some of the distinctly illiberal positions on fairly important issues, make that candidate barely distinguishable (on balance) from the Jackasses' candidate (the guy currently in the Half-White House). And it's actually worse in the race for U.S. Senate, for the U.S. House of Reprehensibles, and the state- and local-level races. The less said about bad science on both sides of pseudoscientific ballot initiatives, the better...

The citizens of this nation, and virtually everyone else, are being ill-served by the political class. Even if they can't be dislodged (since it's a self-selecting, self-perpetuating oligarchy with a disturbing resemblance to the 13th-century French and English versions of the "ruling class"), we should at least send them a little farther down the road to Runnymede. Sadly, Runnymede in 1215 meant less than it should have, and would mean less than it should now. Even Karl Marx got one thing right about power relations, though: The nonpropertied classes will remain nonpropertied classes until they stop letting the propertied classes set the agenda.

As long as the alternatives we're presented with in national politics are drawn from the center, the right, and the far right only — and even the center-left gets tarred with namecalling strangely (or perhaps not so strangely) reminiscent of the racial epithets hurled in Little Rock and Montgomery and Tupelo in the 1950s and 1960s, or for that matter just about everywhere now against a segment of the Semite population — nobody is going to have the opportunity to learn anything from other viewpoints, and voter preference is going to come down to who has better hair, or more-preferable skin color, or more-tolerable friends and backers, or just about anything other than policy preferences and clear thinking.