To Vote or Not To Vote, and For Whom?

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We
race (correction, we yawn) to the finish line.

I
am the recipient of seductions by Democrats (including a lot of
relatives) who think I should vote for Kerry.

Here
in Odessa, where the local Rotary Club is currently putting in weekends
refurbishing the first Odessa Bush house in West Texas, I am surrounded
by GOPers who seem to think no sane person could favor anyone but
our beloved W. That exceedingly modest frame house, virtually a
log cabin (see the picture taken before refurbishing began), has
been relocated to the grounds of the new Odessa Presidential Museum
near the local University, a more impressive neighborhood than the
one it was built in and where the Bushes occupied it back in the
late 1940s.

An
impassioned liberal friend, who thinks my previously expressed intention
not to vote at all is immoral under the present circumstances, wrote
to me:

I
take it you REALLY don't intend to vote this Nov.! I can’t say
that I blame you, but I DO want the pleasure and privilege of
voting AGAINST Bushie.

To
which I responded:

As
Jack Benny famously said, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Argument
for voting for Kerry: a digit against Bush. Argument for voting
for a third-party candidate: signal of disaffection from two-party
racket. Argument for not voting: signal of radical disaffection
from entire iniquitous system. But I shall continue to think.

As
indeed I have. I voted third-party in the last three presidential
elections and, two back, actually went out to the local mall and
got ballot access signatures for Howard Phillips. None of that this
time. Too old and too tired and too disillusioned. So my thoughts
are running about so:

If
Bush gets back in and keeps the same crowd around him, including
the war-mad neocons, we may very rapidly reach a kind of Political
Ground Zero where we simply have to change course. We might very
well reach that much-to-be-desired turning point rather faster with
Bush than with Kerry, because the anti-Bush grass-roots forces,
which are now very visible and increasingly well-heeled, will have
great reason to oppose him vehemently at every turn, and the Democrats,
as a party, will be even angrier than they were after the Gore loss.
A mighty engine of frustration at work. Hell hath no fury like a
political party kept from the trough.

Whereas,
if Kerry gets in, we already know that to start with it will be
business as usual. Bush or Kerry: more men needed in Iraq. We must
stand up to challenges delivered to us freedom-loving peoples, etc.,
etc. Let us be reasonable. A draft. And if Iran is somehow maneuvered
into firing the first shot to start the next phase of WW III, under
either K. or W. there will be no withstanding the argument for the
clearly self-evident need to – etc., etc.

Now,
from a purely partisan point of view it might be that the GOP would
go into opposition to a Kerry-fought war; but it is much more likely
that the Congress would simply continue along on its bi-partisan
don't-look-at-us support of the executive.

But
I can't read the future. Nobody can. I am unable to settle for any
schema I can think of, because they are all so make-believe, so
full of unknowns. At this point non-cooperation with the election
charade looks much the best course to me.

But
I shall continue to think and to watch. As I write this, we have
a little more than two months to go. Plenty of time to change my
mind.

After
the last election I got into a minor contention with one of the
third-party candidates over a piece I wrote saying that anyone who
ran for the presidency was, ipso facto, convicted of subscribing
to the Fhrer Prinzip. I see now that was somewhat unfair, because
some of them may have been motivated entirely by a desire for the
pay and/or the prominence or even the desire to benefit the commonwealth,
without any sense of wanting to rule the world or build any fresh
Berchtesgartens.

But
I should still say they are wrong-headed as all get-out because
there is no promise for the future in ever-enlarging government
no matter who has the executive, and the federal government has
clearly outgrown the possibility of being reduced by quiet means.
The real need is to shut down D.C., but something tells me that
is not up in this next election, worse luck.

August
19, 2004

Tom
White [send him mail]
writes from Odessa, Texas. He is the author of Bill
W., A Different Kind of Hero: The Story of Alcoholics Anonymous

(2003).

Tom
White Archives

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