Tomorrow is Election Day, that one day that comes around every 2 years when our government is forced, both by tradition and the need to keep up appearances, to give us some sort of input into how our country is run.
Do I think much comes out of elections? Not really. Looking at the slate of candidates quickly lets one know that the people have already lost. You don't even have to have radical politics to think this. "The lesser of two evils" is sadly a very commonly spoken phrase in our country nowadays. But having said that, I think good things can come out of elections. Firstly, if you can vote directly on propositions then you have a rare opportunity to have your voice heard. In California we have two propositions (87 & 89) that would be worth passing. Prop 87 raises taxes on oil companies to help fund alternative energy, while Prop 89 establishes some sort of public financing of campaigns which will enable third-party candidates to spread their message to a wider group of people. Unfortunately I've heard that due to a large misinformation campaign funded by Chevron that Prop 87 is behind in the
polls. Just goes to show that even when democratic structures are in place, that differences in economic power can easily translate themselves into political power. But at least we have the opportunity to vote on it.
For the most part I believe that elections are purely symbolic, and basically serve as a poll of public opinion. That is why I vote for candidates whose policies I support (as much as possible), and refuse to vote for the "lesser of two evils". While I'm certain that none of the candidates outside city-wide office that I voted for (I voted early) will win, I look forward to seeing how many like-minded individuals there are out there and to draw some hope for the future from a good showing. In addition, I think voting for parties that are on the left (such as Peace and Freedom, or the Greens) is the best way to prevent the country from right-wing policies. When people vote for the Democrats because they are afraid of Republicans coming into office, it gives the Democratic party little reason to not drift further to the right. And they will, since that's where the money and media power is. But voting to the left of them gives them a reason to remain progressive, in the hopes that they might be able to pick up those leftist votes in the next election. It's like if you have a new puppy that isn't housebroken yet. While you certainly prefer that he shits on the tile kitchen floor (the Democrats) rather than shit on the white carpet (the GOP), you certainly don't give him a treat when he goes to town near the kitchen table.
Anyway, go out and vote. Tuesday night I might be at a local bar with the Green party candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, and Senator. If I get a picture with them I'll put it up. I didn't vote for all 3 of them (Peace and Freedom instead) but they are all progressive individuals and I hope to meet them.
Also, the blog has been a little politics heavy as of late. After reporting on the election results I hope to write a post about free will. Have a good week.