For the First Time in 30 Years I Voted

And voted the straight liberal ticket

The loveliest, gentlest state in the Onion, in which my grandchildren are the fifth generation of our family born in sweet weird Portland, has exclusively vote-by-mail.  My 14yo grandson and I sat around designer coffee in a neo-hippy yuppy bar and voted together.  Very nice.

I had stopped voting some time in the 80’s, though I’d not been happy to vote for some years before that – and though I was thrilled to be in the first wave of 18yo’s to be allowed to vote.  I’m not certain of this, but I believe Clean Gene would have been my first vote for President, though the years don’t seem to work out for that to be true.  I also distinctly recall voting for Shirley Chisolm, and I don’t think the issue was still open when that primary got to Oregon.  Whatever; I was proud enough to vote in my youth.

I registered first as Democrat, but then changed to Libertarian.  I voted for every Libertarian candidate I could (unless Jesse Jackson was running.)  Not that I wanted any of them to win anything – I know the Libertarians for the wack-birds they are – but mostly trying to subvert the dominant paradigm in entirely polite respectful ways.  The Revolution may or may not be televised, but it will be catered, so tuck your shirt in.

But I got more and more depressed by the idiotic, control-freak ideas being put before us, the great unwashed, the poorest-informed, least-able part of our polity.  Insane.  I’d noticed as a teen how fond people, including self, were of telling others what to do, say, believe.  Voting, and trying hard to make informed votes, for maybe fifteen years or so of attempt after attempt to control some people based on the not-remotely-apparent wisdom of that minority of We The People that can and do vote, or the faintest majority of that minority – actually voting showed me that impulse to control the decisions of others nearly completely defines us politically as well.  Issue after issue, act after act, law by law, by referendum or by well-connected lawyers, decision after decision that ought not to be mine or yours to make for all of us – and never, ever a hint of this question: Why should this thing even be something we vote on?

So I stopped voting.  I didn’t want any part in this madness, this taking of sides based on gaining the power, blessed by The Vote, to tell the other side what’s what. And never a chance to say, “This shouldn’t even be a thing!”

Such intolerance.  If you are a good person, one who knows Right from Wrong, of course you agree with me!  By definition!  And once we agree, if we can back our One Idea with enough zeros, a sufficient number of ciphers, we can enshrine our idea in law.  And if we find tens of millions of 0’s to line up behind our One, think of what we can (make others) do!

I long ago decided this madness could proceed without my help.  After all, if your core idea is that you can’t tell others what to do – how do you tell people that?  How do you tell other people that they shouldn’t tell other people what to do?  Chew on that for decades and tell me it don’t make you craaaazy.

That’s okay for me.  I am well-suited to the city of my birth, Keeper of the Weird.  Also the place where U-Haul and chambers of commerce got their start, and the trainers of national network accents for all the major announcers in radio and early television for some five decades.  Not clear on how much of a compliment that was; in research from every part of the nation, the Portland accent, even down to the SE neighborhood it came from, was found not so much the Most Pleasant as the Least Offensive to most people.  So.  Congratulations, us: the accent that least curls other people’s lips comes from a middle-class neighborhood now filled with the deeply ironic and coffee houses.  Make of this what you will.

Still, this year is different.  To be clear, I don’t support any political viewpoint; to me, everyone, even the Libertarians, is fighting to the death over different versions of the same mistake – trying to live other people’s lives for them lest they err.  But fascism – no, that is not a mistake we could avoid being damned for all time for making.  We don’t need to have that proven.  It is self-evident.  It has been, and continues to be, an obvious fail.  Even if you think our system needs extreme tinkering, you deny all evidence of intelligence when you imagine that nationalism is an answer.

It’s time to end the party that has adopted all the goals and all the methods the Nazi’s used so effectively to undermine their popularly-supported, elected leaders.  They’ve already tarnished the reputation of the Democratic nominee, despite all of their made-up ‘scandals’ being disproved, and twenty-five years of examination have shown her to be about as honest as we ever allow any politician to be.  She’s consistently about three-to-one honest; since about one-third of the crap we demand politicians pretend to believe, like American Exceptionalism, is pure unadulterated bovine byproduct, she’s actually above the curve on ‘honest’.

So I voted, for the first time in my life, a straight Democrat ticket.  Also voted Yes on every measure.

I’m not a liberal, certainly not progressive  – I expect progressive ideas to prevail, if, and only if, they are the right ones, not because I think they’re the right ones and vote to impose them on others.  I think a just world will develop out of the same forces that have brought us our success and pre-eminence; the friction between the two competing impulses, ‘Let’s Charge Forward’ and ‘Let’s Stay Right Here’.  A healthy liberal and a healthy conservative tradition can constructively struggle, and great things can come of that struggle, a kind of constant interplay of fracture and reformation, as long as neither side denies the right of the other to participate.

That no longer includes the Republican Party.  Even if the Cheney administration didn’t make this point clear, Mitch McConnell’s openly-stated contempt for the 2008 election results, his refusal to allow any Democratic Party act to find any support at all on their Party’s side made it irrefutable – the Republican Party saw itself as the only party that had the right to legislate.  Anything passed by Democratic votes must be torn apart as soon as possible, the Constitution be damned.  Screw America – we’re here for the One Percent.

There no longer is a party that’s open to the Let’s Stay Right Here side – in fact, the most successful classically-defined conservative on the political scene for the last eight years has been America’s first Black President, a center-right politician when judged by the decisions he’s made.

So I had to vote, and I had to vote in the way that I thought would most oppose the investment in fantasy that the Rich Irresponsible have spent so much time and money on.  If you haven’t voted yet (notice how much I love to pretend anyone is actually reading this stuff) then I urge you to vote, up and down the ticket, in the way that would most strongly show the Right that we see what they are doing, and aren’t going along with it.

No, I don’t support the Left.  In fact, they infuriate me; the arrogance, the moral exclusivity they take upon themselves and demand you admire, the shame they apply to those who don’t list every letter in the very-most-recent Sexual Doxology and don’t try a thoroughly unconvincing Spanish accent when saying ‘Latina’.  But I’m voting exclusively for them and their issues from now on.

The constructive conflict between Right and Left has been abandoned by one party claiming for itself alone the right to rule.  So I have to vote for the other side.  I’m asking you to do the same.  You can easily tear apart the Democratic Party into the two traditional American sides, Move! and Stay!, after we secure the nation.  Right now, no.  Vote like our liberal, republican democracy depended on it.

It does, and more than somewhat.