This post never reached completion, but I wanted to get it up before…well, tomorrow. I’m always hesitant to post half-done bits, but here we go. Things gets especially skeletal towards the end, but life intervened with blogging.)
In the 2000 presidential election, I mildly supported John McCain. He was a Navy vet; I was in Navy ROTC. He came across as gruff and plainspoken; I appreciated honesty. He supported campaign finance reform; so did I. I liked McCain’s performances in the primary debates and was turned off by W.’s background, his presumption that he was the obvious nominee because of his machine backing, and his Rovian campaign tactics. In the end, I didn’t vote in the actual 2000 presidential election, although I probably would have voted for Bush over Gore. (Why didn’t I vote? Um, basically, because I was a college student and couldn’t be bothered figuring out how to absentee vote in New Hampshire, or drive the 45 minutes to vote in person. Look, I’m not proud.) Ironically, though, I did stay up into the wee hours of morning Election Night, watching Tim Russert do arithmetic on a whiteboard, frantically erasing the result and trying again. I heard my fellow nerds cheer when the election was finally called for Bush at 2:30 am. (This result, of course, would come under fire until the Supreme Court finally stepped in to crowbar Bush into office.)
The house I grew up in was relentlessly apolitical; when, as a child, I asked my parents about politics, they said one of them was Republican, the other Democrat, so they had agreed early on to leave politics at the doorstep. (I had to guess which was which. My mother was Irish-Catholic whose family was from Charleston, Boston; my father was, and always had been, a small business owner. What do you think?)
I’m actually grateful for that; nearly all of the people I’ve met whose parents were vocal one way or another subsumed the party mantra deep into their rat brains and are now loyal party soldiers. I had to find my own way.
Growing up, the idea of service, the need for a person to help others in order to become a fully realized human being, was a hallmark of my Catholic grade school education. (I wouldn’t learn the term eudaimonia until college, when I first heard the Socratic idea that virtue is essential to happiness, but, in essence, it was eudaimonia the nuns were pushing us towards.)
It’s possible that this grounding in service, though I never explicitly acknowledged it, drove both my initial career choices and, now, my political ones. All this, by the way, was transparent to me until I left the military, when I realized I had an innate drive to matter, to be able to align my ideals and my actions.
To abandon your fellow man, to push him out the door and say, “Build it,” without extending your hand to help is, to me, unjust. It is the work of an unordered soul. There was a time when resources and abilities were constrained by temporal and geographic restrictions that, frankly, no longer exist, but even then, the government offered a means to advance. From 1862 until 1986, a person could get land from the U.S. government, gratis, simply by living on it. (I know! 1986! Alaska!)
Unconstrained liberty is not a virtue. You know who knew that really well? Our Founding Fathers. A social contract between government and citizen constrains both government and the governed. (I think this is particularly important in matters of gun control; as a citizen, you should not be allowed to prosecute immediate justice carte blanche.)
Many of the current positions of this incarnation of the Republican Party are untenable from a moral standpoint. The best example is health care, and if you haven’t read Jonathan Chait’s examination of the ignored moral underpinnings of the debate, please don’t mention Obamacare again until you do. Then make your case with the understanding that your position has clear moral and ethical implications. (Recently learned: did you know universal health coverage via mandated and subsidized private health insurance has been a goal in the U.S. since at least the 1930s, and Truman’s attempt was partially scuttled by opponents painting it as “socialism”? Rhyming, if not repeated, history indeed.)
So: I’m voting for Barack Obama. (Again.) (One of the worst things about Romney is the potential for the Republican Party to conceivably gain control of the Senate AND the House. The Founding Fathers designed our government to be a perpetual logjam [and disenfranchise the mob voter, BTW] and in the case of the modern Republican Party, I’d prefer gridlock to action.)
I’m for Question 6, the right of gay marriage. Your children will be sad you voted against it, and you will seem old fashioned and out of touch- and you are.
I’m for Question 4, the Maryland version of the DREAM Act. Come on, you’re against increasing access to community colleges?
I’m against Question 5. You want to join Texas as among the most gerrymandered states?
I’m against Question 7. Remember that time increasing gambling created a more just society? Yeah, me neither.
I’m either voting for Cardin or a write-in candidate. I took a look at Independent Sobhani, but got turned off by his opposition to gay marriage and proposal of a for-most-Americans flat tax. Only rich and/or uninformed people like the idea of a flat tax. Progressive taxation is important.
Howard County School Board: Gertler and Scott. May not vote for a third candidate; I’m not sure yet. (Pro tip on Ballinger: when someone throws around “Six Sigma” in response to Wicked Problems, buyer beware. The person either doesn’t understand Six Sigma, the problem at hand, or is selling snake oil. [Or all three.])