To Vote or Not To Vote, and For Whom?

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