I remember my parents teaching me that voting was a private, personal issue: that one has the right (and duty, I assumed from what they said) to not reveal who you vote for. Even when I was young, I thought this was a bit silly; now it makes me think about the unwritten law–or has it been written down?–that employees not share their salary information with co-workers. Is it really voters and employees that are afraid to talk about these things?
I believe in supporting what I have determined is the best choice, what is socially, culturally and morally the best option available. Unfortunately, I have never seen a Republican or Democrat come anywhere near the white house that I could vote for. Kucinich was out long ago. Richards too. John Edwards, who had started to say some reasonable things about the economy, was sidelined in the debates and ultimately pushed out of the primaries.
I used be completely fatalistic about politics. Everything was hopeless, beyond my control, and any actions or words were just futile motions. Every once in a while, though, I am inspired to be more active politically. Each time this has happened, I have been surprised that people like Ralph Nader and Howard Zinn can make me feel that something can be done by myself and other individuals to improve the society that we live in. I think too many people lack any sense of political agency; and many that do not are missing a deep enough understanding of history and the realities of politics, economics and war to be truly outraged at the worsening developments in our country and world.
I’m still mostly fatalistic. I don’t have that much hope in anything good for this country (and the rest of its crumbling empire) coming out of this year’s election. But what I don’t want to have is too much fear or despair either. What bothers me most in today’s political rhetoric is the insistence on “electability.” This kind of thinking is as damaging to the political process as the “better of two evils” argument. In my opinion, bad candidates, bad policies, and bad platforms are just that: bad. A candidate should simply not be “electable” if there is nothing of substance behind his/her words and actions.
I am supporting Ralph Nader whether he ends up on the ballot in Indiana or not. He is the only candidate that represents any progress toward a better society here and a better foreign policy abroad. I had to write in his name on the 2004 Illinois ballot, and I can do it again if it comes to that. Here is a link to his official campaign website, if you’re interested.
The Dalai Lama has said that “Kindness is society.” I didn’t know what to make of that for a while; society has always seemed rather brutal and opportunistic to me. I feel more and more that this is right, though. Whatever wrong and horrible things the greedy and the wrathful who are put into power do, to both the citizens of this country and the citizens of the rest of the planet, there is a basic kindness in all peoples which seeks to maintain communities that function smoothly to benefit themselves as a whole. I believe in that. I really do. No matter who becomes the next president.