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October 22, 2014

Why Would Any Man Vote Democrat?

It's a bizarre question, but Grim gamely provides a response.

Questions like this are nothing more than brazen appeals to identity politics. Are you black? How could you *possibly* vote for a party that doesn't have put social justice and civil rights front and center? Are you female? How could you *possibly* vote for a party that doesn't put so-called "women's issues" ahead of everything else?

Are you Hispanic? How could you.... Well, you get the picture.

Right leaning pundits have been lambasting such gender and race based appeals for as long as I can remember. But these days we're expected to find a group to identify with and put the supposed interests of our little tribe first. The rest of the country, apparently, can go straight to hell in a handbasket. We recognize nothing greater than our own perceived self interest.

We're all single issue voters in a nation full of complex questions with no simple answers. A nation where the legitimate competing interests of all kinds of people - black, white, rich, poor, male, female, liberal, conservative, religious and secular - must constantly be balanced and prioritized.

That's what America was supposed to be about: that balancing process.

It was bad enough when only one side was doing this. If we've sunk this low then we really are doomed.

The times, they are a-changin':

Earlier this month, a coalition of some 20 African American Democratic leaders called a news conference to endorse the GOP candidate, state Rep. Rick Stream. Armed with voter registration forms, activists like Seals have been roaming black neighborhoods urging people to vote for anyone but the Democrat.

The plan is not only to beat back a local candidate they view as particularly unfriendly to black residents, but also to present a show of force to Democratic leaders all the way up to Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon. By switching their allegiance in this election, these African Americans hope to demonstrate that their votes should not be taken for granted.

Ted Hoskins, the mayor of nearby Berkeley who has endorsed Stream, rattled off a series of slights and sins. They range from the governor’s decision to back the controversial prosecutor in the Brown case to the Democratic Party’s anemic support for the incumbent county executive, a black Democrat who was ousted by a white challenger during the August primary.


“This is about the total disrespect white Democrats have demonstrated against the black community,” he said. “This time, we are going to show them.”

It could be a difficult feat. A Republican has not held the St. Louis county executive’s position in 25 years.

The phrase, "Be careful what you wish for" comes to mind.

Posted by Cassandra at October 22, 2014 08:35 AM

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Comments

If Zell Miller (D-GA) could be enticed to come out of retirement (which he cannot be, and good for him), I'd vote for him for President over a Mitt Romney or John McCain. Democrat may be his party, but his politics run deep red. One should always vote for the candidate, not the party. And if you truly have a candidate who lines up with your preferences more than they don't, then disregarding them because they have a different party than you would prefer ONLY makes sense if you suspect they will rubber stamp policies that you do not support more than they would the ones that you do. But if that were the case, then the premise (they line up with your preferences) is incorrect in the first place.

Posted by: MikeD at October 22, 2014 10:18 AM

The counter argument is that in today's politics the size of the teams matter not individual politicians. One group of 60 republicans in the senate is just as good as any other.

And given that Democrats, as a team, are rather unabashedly beating me over the head about how evil I am for being male, it's kind of hard to support the team that openly hates me.

Republicans certainly have their fair share of women-haters in the peanut gallery, too. But I think a hell of a lot of the "-ism" problem for republicans is the Social Justice Warrior's cries of bigotry behind every tree and lurking in every shadow. The SJW never tires of tilting at whistling windmills.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 22, 2014 11:08 AM

To elevate:
To 'best and brightest' - the non compos mentis, the degenerates, and moral morons
To viable candidate – buffoons and revolutionaries
To political power the most ghastly of these is the very sine qua non of the end... of the nation, the Republic, democracy, freedom.

To elevate - to viable candidate – buffoons and degenerate revolutionaries, to cast a vote for them, indicts the perp as being:
an idiot/moron
clinically delusional
of a monumental guilt complex
a degenerate revolutionary

Modern Government, the panoply of –ocracies (democracy, idiocracy, kakistocracy, autocracy) because it is, at base, expansionary and proliferative, seeks the means of force. When it has it, it goes about creating injustices to rectify injustices. That in doing so it remains obtuse to the contradiction, committed to conflict in the creation of antagonistic factions, and continues in its treachery steadfastly and without compunction, should convince anyone our government is either evil or insane. In either inference, we are reminded of the genius of the Founders - that toxins, such as arsenic and government, may only be taken in small doses to any good effect. To do otherwise is called, in the first ministration, murder – in the second, treason. I’ll not vote for treason; I’ll not be dissuaded that, in most nearly all cases, passing muster in a primary - due to the unbridled power of the Party - is tantamount to having been exposed as fundamentally unfit for public office. I’ll not vote; for voting, in our present circumstances, is a mug’s game.

”the United States is run by an abusive shadow government, corrupt to the core. It is a one-party state with two branches; its checks-and-balances on power about as transparent as the sweaty regime of a tropical caudillo; Congress a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil affair of morally flea-bitten primates set loose in a zoo; the Fourth-Estate a creepy Fifth Column; the citizenry fat, stupid and liberty-loathing—and all of this conspiring to contaminate the greatest democratic political experiment in the history of mankind with an odious whiff of the fraudulent. The super-patriots have been exposed as traitors, while the official traitors—once marginalized, silenced or driven underground for their honest beliefs—have emerged, slowly, as the authentic patriots. What remains is the death-blow needed to resurrect life—the life of a country that has ceased to be a nation.”
- Marcia Christoff Kurapovna

We are now in the midst of a third revolution (1. War Between the States, 2. the imperium of FDR, 3. Presently, the political DC coup d'état . Why, at this point, bother playing 'democracy' - other than to have it play the role of 'whistling past the graveyard' – tranquilizing our angst.

Posted by: George Pal at October 22, 2014 11:30 AM

It's funny that George's answer has been the most common reply -- not, "No, these 'men's issues' should define your vote," but rather, "I won't vote at all, because the system is so corrupt that I withdraw my consent from it entirely."

Posted by: Grim at October 22, 2014 01:49 PM

You can't cheat an honest man.

Posted by: Drive-by W.C. Fields at October 22, 2014 02:10 PM

Sorry guys, long day and I still have a long commute back to the fabled worker's paradise that lies east o'Fredneck.

I think I'm with MikeD.

As for withdrawing consent, I have to say I think that's a fairly worthless gesture as it communicates nothing to the powers that be (unless you take it all the way - refuse to pay taxes, refuse to obey laws, etc.). Simply not voting can't be distinguished in any meaningful way from sheer apathy.

It can just as easily be interpreted as your having written them a blank check.

Posted by: Cass at October 22, 2014 07:14 PM

“Simply not voting can't be distinguished in any meaningful way from sheer apathy.”

Neither can simply voting be distinguished in any meaningful way from sheer insanity, delusion, or quid pro quo. I take it as given that no-one took seriously the voting for of the People’s Soviet or any run-of-the-mill banana republic, or African kleptocracy. There are many requisites to legitimate democratic elections and not a one of them can be said to be presently extant.

Posted by: George Pal at October 23, 2014 01:15 AM

Voting is cool.
Voting is sexy.
Voting is smart.
Voting is fashionable.
Voting is community.
Voting is expression.
Voting is glorious.
Truly glorious.
Voting is winning.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2014 05:00 PM

I'm pretty sure I shouldn't do this, because I'm tired and my brain is fried.

But every time I hear Americans complaining that their votes are worthless, I can't help thinking of the first elections in Iraq and Afghanistan, where voters braved bullets and bombs just to get to the polls. They were - many of them - literally taking their lives in their hands and yet voter turnout was higher than it ever is here at home.

Did they have any guarantee the men and women they voted for wouldn't be corrupt?

Hell, no.

Did they have any guarantee that the guy they voted for would ram their preferred policy positions through the legislature, countrymen who disagreed with those positions be damned?

Hell, no.

Did they have any guarantee that their Constitution would be interpreted in ways they preferred?

Hell, no.

Did they even have any guarantee of ANYTHING like the rule of law and relative safety, peace, and prosperity we take for granted???

HELL NO. And yet, they risked their lives to vote. Because when you've lived in a country where acid is thrown in young girls' faces and schools are attacked by brigands for the "crime" of educating a village's daughters, when you've lived in a country where people disappear, only to turn up in mass graves and plastic shredders, when you live in a country where your President's sons summon young schoolgirls to be prostituted out and then abandoned (once the "novelty" of raping them wears off) with their heads shaven because apparently, having been brutally raped makes *them* sluts, the idea of actually having a say, however small, in how your country is run seems precious: something worth dying for.

There is not now (and never has been) any reasonable expectation on the part of any single voter that they're going to "win" all the time, or even half the time.

There is not now (and never has been) any reasonable expectation on the part of any single voter that imperfect men and women will administer imperfect laws.... perfectly.

And frankly, there's not a single one of us - not one - who is smart enough to know exactly how the country should be run 24/7. A lot of this stuff is messy and complicated and screwed up because people are messy and complicated and screwed up. It ain't "the system" - it's human nature to push the envelope and abuse rules or process and cry, "More, more, more..." and "What's in it for me?"

But we have it SO much better that most of the rest of the world. No one ever promised we wouldn't have to fight for what we believe, or that we would win every battle or even most of the battles.

We seem to have lost the ability to appreciate the great gift we were given, for free, at birth. The right to call ourselves Americans. It's an honor and a privilege, even with all our screw-ups. We are so blessed.

/rant

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2014 05:37 PM

Nice rant there, Princess.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2014 05:39 PM

Yeah, sorry about that :p

It's what I believe, though.

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2014 06:10 PM

That puts you in some pretty fine company then.
We all get exasperated by the qualiity (or lack thereof) in the choice of candidates presented. And really, deep down don't we all know that WE'D do the job a helluvalot better than any of the clowns on the ballot? Of course WE do! And WE'D do it too, if it weren't for our busy job/family/arrest record....

Right. We'd have to be nuts.

So maybe voting isn't really that much of aburden.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2014 07:20 PM

We'd have to be nuts.

Amen.

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2014 08:22 PM

Brave men died in unpleasant ways in far off places, so that we could live in Freedom and retain the right to VOTE.

Yes, you can say our freedom is a joke these days. These politicians are just such....bastards! Perhaps you should travel abroad, and see what life is like in parts of the "unfree" world. Like parts of Asia, or Burlington, Vermont. Because it exists, the un-freedom.

I too am disgusted with much of our political class. I have neither the knowledge or wisdom to DEMAND or tell people how to vote. I read Grim's posting on the political races in Georgia at Grim's Hall, and I know nothing really about the people involved, the campaigns, or who to choose. Those are sovereign choices for the people of Georgia.

But the RIGHT TO VOTE is a right paid for in blood by patriots who voted with their last full measure that we, their posterity, should live and vote as free men and woman.

How would we explain to the ghosts of Normandy or Peleliu, or Pusan or anywhere else where Americans died fighting, that well, it's just too unpleasant to make a choice here, because present politics stinks? Sorry, no effort is going to be made to choose.

Well, grab a chair and rest up. Popular politics ALWAYS stinks. It ain't bean bag. We are fallen men and women, living in a fallen world. This is the way life is.

I vote. I vote to choose, because I still think that I am a free man, perhaps living in an un-free world. But there it is.
I vote and keep the faith with the men and women that preceeded me who made this possible. How could I do less?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 23, 2014 11:20 PM

Well, I know something about that Iraq vote, and I'll tell you this: I'd rather be the country that set itself free than the one that lined up to vote in elections secured by that other country. Iraqis have always been good voters. They lined up to vote for Saddam, too.

Americans have proven to know a couple of things about freedom, and one of them is when it's time to stop talking and fight. It's the fighting, more than the voting, that makes us free. I'm still trying to talk, and still thinking carefully about how to vote as a good citizen. I think it's important. I take it to be a duty.

But when I hear otherwise thoughtful Americans saying that they're done with the system we've got, I don't think they're talking like spoiled brats. I think they're talking like their ancestors, the most successful makers of freedom in the history of the world. And I hope people will listen to them, while they're still just talking.

Posted by: Grim at October 23, 2014 11:24 PM

To indulge my more pessimistic tendencies:

The problem isn't the political class. Lord I wish it were. That could be solved by voting.

The problem is that 99% of the gov't aparatus isn't subject to elections. No one elected a politician on the platform of having the IRS audit their enemies. No one elected a politician on the platform of running guns to Mexican drug lords to create a crime wave that could be used to justify new gun control. No one elected a politician on the platform of wholesale data collection of US citizens. No one elected a politician on the platform of the EPA terrorizing the industry into compliance by crucifying a random business as an example and warning.

The aparatus of gov't wasn't asked to do those things by a politician and it didn't ask the citizenry for permission in advance. Because it didn't need to. Even after public discovery no one has been held to account. Because no one can be held to account.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2014 09:11 AM

There’s almost nothing stirs the blood like a patriotic rally – unfurl the flags, cue the brass band.

I would never belittle anyone for voting. There’s much to commend about the citizen spirit; I applaud it; but I would remind the spirit that he is no longer the citizen of that nation . We are now in a different land, a different world, than the one to which we pledged our affinity and played roughhouse politics – it no longer exists.

I ask: In the span of the last fifty years, starting, say, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, how far removed are we from the land of liberty? How far down the revolutionary road? In the thirty-five years since Reagan, whose terms of administration were mere speed bumps to the Leftist brigades, are we now as free as then? Indeed, isn’t it the God’s honest truth that we no longer have that country? Have we not voted ourselves the revolution? The final question: has any revolution ever been voted out?

Another brilliant George – Orwell, had observed that seeing what is in front of one’s nose is a struggle. I am indefatigable. Here is what I see - ultimately, people get not what they vote for but what they will stand for.

Posted by: George Pal at October 24, 2014 11:12 AM

I ask: In the span of the last fifty years, starting, say, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, how far removed are we from the land of liberty? How far down the revolutionary road? In the thirty-five years since Reagan, whose terms of administration were mere speed bumps to the Leftist brigades, are we now as free as then?

The Cato Institute's boilerplate description of itself used to include the line, "Since [the American] revolution, civil and economic liberties have been eroded." Until Clarence Thomas, then chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, gave a speech at Cato and pointed out to us that it didn't seem quite that way to black people.
And he was right.
[snip]
Compare conditions now to how they were at the outset of the 1960s. Official governmental discrimination against blacks no longer exists. Censorship has beaten a wholesale retreat. The rights of the accused enjoy much better protection. Abortion, birth control, interracial marriage, and gay sex are legal. Divorce laws have been liberalized and rape laws strengthened. Pervasive price and entry controls in the transportation, energy, communications, and financial sectors are gone. Top income tax rates have been slashed.

There have been many losses and many wins. I'm just not convinced that right now, we get much of any input on things either way.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2014 12:06 PM

Pretty much agree with Cass one hundred percent.

Posted by: Colagirl at October 24, 2014 01:27 PM

Well, gee... I don't have a "George" quote handy, but will a "Tom Smykowski" do? :-)

Look folks, I'll admit to being a patriotic pain-in-the-ass. I love the hell of this country and everything that it stands for. Even when what it stands for seems to get a bit fuzzy amid the daily kerfuffle of compromise and adaptation, it's still a helluva idea for a free society. And we ARE free, people. More free than our parents could have ever dreamed possible. You don't think so? Read the law. Read Loving v. Virginia, Griswald v. Connectitcut, Miranda v. Arizona, and, yes U.S. v. Haggerty, which correctly held that burning the Stars and Stripes was an constitutionally protected exercise of political speech. Patriotism, my friends, is not a requirement, but liberty is indispensable. And I think we have more personal liberty now than we've ever had in our history. We just don't recognize it anymore.

I'm not giving up on this country. In fact, I'm proud as hell of it. And you know what? The people on the ballot? Those contemptible "politicians?" They're our neighbors. They're us. They love the country just as much as I do, maybe even more. get to know them. You'll see.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 24, 2014 01:56 PM

Loving v. Virginia, Griswald v. Connectitcut, Miranda v. Arizona, U.S. v. Haggerty

Lovely rulings all. The Court giveth and the Court taketh away: Roe v Wade, Kelo v New London. The Court undertakes (consideration of cases) and the Court dismisses (same); such as state’s rights to legislatively define marriage eventually over ruled by lower courts. The Court is frenetically inconsistent and the Court is phlegmatically inconsistent. The people that is made free by the law may be enslaved by the law. The society that is made freer by the law may be made libertine by the law.

The ’64 Civil Rights Act and the metamorphosis of it has made us as unfree a people as have ever trod soil that was under the auspices of Anglo-Saxon Law since the time of Magna Carta.

Posted by: George Pal at October 24, 2014 03:20 PM

Sorry you feel that way, George. It must be awful.
Nice day, though.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 24, 2014 03:23 PM

spd rdr,

Sympathy but no empathy... ah well. I had never thought seeing things as they are a terrible burden. Seeing things as they are not must be hell. Nice day to you to.

Posted by: George Pal at October 24, 2014 04:55 PM

We, the people make up this country. It is not the land, the sky, the cities, the rivers.

It is we the people. If the Republic has failed, it is on us. All of us, even if it is something that we did not agree with or vote for.

George feels that we have not voted for this (and there is truth in that), but have learned to tolerate what we have learned or been compelled to accept. And there is truth in that.

Am I disappointed in how some things have turned out since I was a boy years ago? Yes.

Has EVERYTHING gone bad? No.

Because if we lose faith in each other, and lose faith in the future, whatever it turns out to be, then yes, we are lost.

Disappointed in some ways? Yes. And honestly, that is part of the disillusionment of growing old. Life turns out to be a disappointment on many levels, unless you have become very rich, successful or both.

It is sometimes difficult to keep the faith in your countrymen when you feel the majority of voters have made a mistake. When you feel that the opposing sides can no longer talk to each other in a civil way about important matters of the country.

But here we are. I am disappointed, but not giving up. I vote, and will continue to vote and make a choice, even if it doesn't matter to anyone else but me. Because that is our birthright. It is not really about patriotism, per se.

To a large extent, it is keeping faith with my own father, who served in the Army in WWII. His generation all served, and they grumbled a lot about everything. He told me how disillusioned he was after he came home from the war. He complained about the terrible choices that we were given in 1968. He was disgusted with all sides that year.

He didn't quit though, because of.... whatever you want to call it. It wasn't patriotism, or duty but something else. He had not had an easy life, but he valued what he had earned as a serviceman, as a veteran. He too was disappointed in many ways in how things had turned out since he was born in 1924, but he also had seen how the country had improved.

We are citizens of this Republic, and we have many rights which we prize and jealously guard. But sometimes, I think we lose track of just what our responsibilities are. We are grown men and women. We have a responsibility as such to behave that way and to remember what we owe ourselves, and each other, as such.

It may someday mean revolution against a government grown into a real tyranny. But today, it still means casting your vote, and being heard.

It is the self-respect you owe yourself.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 24, 2014 05:45 PM

I apologize, George. I intended my comment to be wiseass, but I did not intend it to be rude - which it was. My bad.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 25, 2014 09:00 AM

Don Brouhaha,

All you well say is true – I recognize the motive and spirit. Perhaps yours is the more sanguine personality. And perhaps, more to my detriment, yours is the better character. Perhaps yours is the greater capacity to bang your head against the wall (NO sarcasm intended). Perhaps you take Churchill’s litany of 'never give in' to heart – not at all a bad thing, and just the place for it – the heart – not that part of us that reasons way too much. Having many more reasons to not vote, I am constrained by my very own words to pursuing that course. So I’ll go another.

My parents and I are immigrants. I had arrived kicking and screaming as an infant. I have quieted down only slightly through the years. Having first heard the first hand experiences of my mother and father with, first, Nazism, then, Communism, and then having read of the horrors of both, the worst of which my parents had dodged, I had learned their was evil in the world and something worthy of healthy hate. That experience paled though in comparison to what I had learned to love. This country. The historical record of the founding of this country had moved me as nothing else. The Founders and Framers, that convocation of great men, at one place, at one time, moved me as no-one else had. If I had not believed in God and his providence, I would have been compelled to upon reading of the miracle of our founding – no less a miracle than the healings and raising the dead. I could go on but you get the picture.

My complaint of the futility of voting footslogs around the failings of the candidates, but despairs at the lack of virtue in the voters – of which the Founders thought essential to keeping robust what they had wrought. Had it been only the failings of the timber of the candidates, I might yet be persuaded to vote. Since I see only a corrupt people and only a small band, a remnant, who will take a measure of themselves, their duties, their responsibilities, and unlike the rest, are not inclined to excavating for yet more 'rights' I am inclined to say “the hell with it”. For those who would think me and my ilk responsible for the present predicament of our incumbents I plead not guilty. There’s more than absent votes 'that might have been’ to tabulate.

Posted by: George Pal at October 25, 2014 11:26 AM

spd rdr,

I am intimately familiar with wise ass, being a long lived practitioner myself, and am well aware of how easily it is to jump the rails - having done so myself too often. Think no more about it – it’s not history – it never happened.

Posted by: George Pal at October 25, 2014 11:27 AM

Well, I know something about that Iraq vote, and I'll tell you this: I'd rather be the country that set itself free than the one that lined up to vote in elections secured by that other country. Iraqis have always been good voters. They lined up to vote for Saddam, too.

If you're seriously equating an election in a country where dissenters disappear and then reappear in mass graves with one in which voters face no such consequences, I have a rather large bone to pick with you, Grim.

Of course you'd rather live in the US. So would pretty much everyone else. Which is kind of the point, isn't it? Other people WANT what we already have. People aren't lining up to emigrate to Iraq. They want to live in America so badly they're willing to come here illegally.

...when I hear otherwise thoughtful Americans saying that they're done with the system we've got, I don't think they're talking like spoiled brats.

Had I written anything CLOSE to that, you'd have a point.

But I didn't.

It is hard enough to discuss some subjects civilly without having to defend against things you never said. Mischaracterizing someone else's argument, while no doubt entertaining, is not really a legitimate debating tactic. Plenty of adults who were never spoiled as children and are not "brats" take their many blessings for granted. That's pretty much human nature for most of us. What good does it do for me to refrain from name calling if I'm going to be accused of doing something I never did, anyway?

And let's stop for a moment and examine closely the implied threat here:

... I think they're talking like their ancestors, the most successful makers of freedom in the history of the world. And I hope people will listen to them, while they're still just talking.

Any individual is welcome (insofar as my opinion matters) to fight the system. They can fight - for instance - by refusing to pay taxes, or by filing a lawsuit challenging the government, or by voting against the incumbent. Or by joining a party, or by running for office, or by simply working to build support for their preferred policy positions.

But if we're talking about taking up arms to overthrow the lawfully elected government of the United States because they can't get enough of their fellow citizens to agree with them, or because they're not willing to run for office, or because their preferred candidate doesn't have the support of most voters...., well, the ugly truth is that now we're talking about them trying to FORCE their will on others.

It's not that hard to destabilize a nation or a government. A very determined 5% could do it against the will of the other 95% who just plain don't agree with them. Is that a moral goal? How does it differ from criminals or bullies trying to get their way by force of arms? They don't agree with me either. How does it square with that whole "government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed" passage in the Declaration of Independence? True consent is voluntary - it doesn't occur at the point of a loaded gun.

Even the Founding fathers felt the need to convene a Continental Congress to obtain that vital consent by a VOTE for independence before taking up arms against King George. Hard work, that. Simply refusing to vote doesn't rise to that level, nor does simply "fighting" (whatever that means).

I very much fear we don't measure up to the men who created this country. We simply haven't the patience.

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 06:26 PM

It is not really about patriotism, per se.

To a large extent, it is keeping faith with my own father, who served in the Army in WWII. His generation all served, and they grumbled a lot about everything. He told me how disillusioned he was after he came home from the war. He complained about the terrible choices that we were given in 1968. He was disgusted with all sides that year

He didn't quit though, because of.... whatever you want to call it. It wasn't patriotism, or duty but something else. He had not had an easy life, but he valued what he had earned as a serviceman, as a veteran. He too was disappointed in many ways in how things had turned out since he was born in 1924, but he also had seen how the country had improved.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to meet La Femme Nikita (aka Cricket) in meatspace. One of the things we talked about was that I had never seen the Spousal Unit so discouraged and disheartened as he was after returning from a year in Afghanistan. But there again, some perspective is needed.

He was discouraged because various NATO countries could not agree on how to handle their duties over there (or even where their duty lay). He was discouraged at the inability to form consensus. But they weren't killing each other over their disagreements.

Not to say they weren't angry. I know he was. Very much so. But it's one thing to feel angry and say so and passionately argue your position (and accept that other people have no freaking obligation to agree with you). It's quite another to get to the point where you're so convinced of your own ineffable rectitude that you feel justified in killing anyone who refuses to agree with you.

And sadly, that's the thought process that prevails in far too many countries. Honor killings, suicide bombers, terrorism: might makes right. Whoever is most ruthless tends to prevail. We haven't gotten to that point yet. I sincerely hope we never do, because I see no particular "honor" in that way of thinking. Being better armed or more willing to deprive another human being of life does not mean your arguments are sound or should prevail.

But if we ever do get to that point, it would be a grave mistake to assume that people who prefer more peaceful means are pushovers who are afraid to fight.

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 07:21 PM

Of course you'd rather live in the US. So would pretty much everyone else. Which is kind of the point, isn't it? Other people WANT what we already have.

That's not what I said. I said I'd rather be that country, not that I'd rather live there.

Iraq could be that country too. We did our best to give them a shot at it. But that's not who they are.

A nation, a polity, isn't a place. It's a people, with a character, with a core of values around which they organize their lives.

The Founders represented a very small number of the people living in America at the time. That vote in the Continental Congress wasn't a plebiscite or a referendum: it was a vote taken among people already committed to the cause.

The Founders forced a lot of people to leave the country, too. After the Revolution, 70,000 Americans out of a total population of about four million fled or were forced to depart for Britain or Canada: that would be roughly equivalent to expelling 15,750,000 Americans today. One of them was Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, Georgia's founder and a truly great man. We were impoverished by his loss, in my opinion: he was a man of noble heart and good judgment. But he couldn't be convinced to agree with the Founders, and therefore he left.

Likewise, during the numerous 'grand compromises' that characterized the early Republic between the Founding and the Civil War, nobody's mind was changed about the issue of slavery: we just found a way to push it along for a while, until we ended up having to kill six hundred thousand of each other over the issue they had allegedly 'compromised' about time and again.

This is to leave entirely to the side the issue of those others who had a different idea about how civilization on this continent should be organized, and who were not gently persuaded nor allowed to vote on the resolution of the dispute -- I mean of course the American Indians.

Was America, then, not a moral goal? How does the language of the Declaration of Independence line up even with the actions of the Founders themselves? If they'd lived up to that language, we'd never have had an America at all.

Posted by: Grim at October 28, 2014 07:35 PM

The Founders represented a very small number of the people living in America at the time. That vote in the Continental Congress wasn't a plebiscite or a referendum: it was a vote taken among people already committed to the cause.

You must be reading very different history books from the ones I have read.

The Continental Congress was composed of delegates elected by the assemblies of the colonies they represented, not people who got tired of voting or representative government because they couldn't persuade their fellow citizens.

The colonial assemblies were in turn elected by those citizens who possessed a vote (male, generally landowners). So the Continental Congress was specifically authorized to represent those colonies and those voters in a representative body of government. And that's really the point here: what they were fighting FOR is what we already HAVE - the right to representation.


Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 09:18 PM

We are definitely reading different books, I'm sure.

Georgia's delegation to the Continental Congress included such luminaries as Button Gwinnett (later killed in a duel with one of George Washington's subordinates, General Lachlan McIntosh, a direct descendant of John McIntosh Mohr who brought Scottish Highlanders to Georgia in the wake of the 1745 rebellion), and Abraham Baldwin (founder of the University of Georgia, after the revolution, in 1785 -- the oldest state-chartered public college in the United States).

This assembly that elected them, though, was not representative of everyone in Georgia. The Provincial Assembly had been chased out of its traditional seat of government in Savannah by a British fleet, and had fled in the face of loyalist opposition to Augusta -- then a frontier town. The Assembly was in formal defiance of the British government at that time, and loyalist members (and their constituents, who were many -- the South was relatively loyal to Britain compared to the North) were not represented.

Posted by: Grim at October 28, 2014 09:45 PM

That vote in the Continental Congress wasn't a plebiscite or a referendum: it was a vote taken among people already committed to the cause.

No, it wasn't (unless "the cause" was to find some way to resolve their differences with Britain).

There were 13 colonies at the time. One - Georgia - didn't send a delegate. Two more - Pennsylvania and (I think - my memory may be faulty here) New York voted against independence, which is hardly surprising given the fact that their assemblies sent them with instructions to try and work out some kind of deal with Britain.

The Continental Congress did not show up already resolved on Revolution. On the contrary, my recollection is that purpose of the first Congress was to try to form some consensus statement that could be conveyed to Britain (IOW, they wanted the colonies to speak as one).

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 09:47 PM

Grim, there was more than one Continental Congress.

Georgia didn't send a delegate to the first one. They did to the second.

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 09:56 PM

Oh, I see the problem. You're confusing the First and Second Continental Congresses. The Second one was the one that approved the Declaration of Independence, and to which Georgia sent some several delegates.

Posted by: Grim at October 28, 2014 09:56 PM

We seem to be posting at about the same time, so there's some confusion in the discussion.

I was talking about the Second Congress because you wrote this: How does it square with that whole "government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed" passage in the Declaration of Independence?

That's Second Congress stuff. And those delegates were elected in an atmosphere that was already one of war: which meant that the assemblies who elected them were not representatives who were trying to convince people to agree with them, but partisans committed.

Posted by: Grim at October 28, 2014 09:59 PM

No, I'm not confusing them at all. If I had them reversed, I would hardly have said Georgia wasn't there.

The second Congress (and the Declaration) followed ONLY AFTER the first attempt at persuasion/petition failed. It's not as though a bunch of hotheads woke up one morning, appointed themselves, and rode off to the Continental Congress already resolved on war.

The First Congress probably wouldn't even have happened "but for" the British blockade of Boston pissing everyone off. At this time, the balance was more on the side of conciliation than revolution. When the petition from the first congress was not taken seriously, they met again (the 2nd Congress) and voted on the Declaration. They continued meeting for several years until finally the Articles of Confederation were passed.

All of this was representative government. Of course not everyone had a vote. Most people didn't back then, and I haven't suggested they did.

Posted by: Cass at October 28, 2014 10:23 PM

If I had them reversed, I would hardly have said Georgia wasn't there.

Well, you didn't say it until just this last exchange. I thought we were talking about the Declaration, because that's where you started. The Second Congress -- the one that declared Independence -- wasn't representative of loyalists at all.

People tried lots of stuff through (more fully) representative government that didn't work. That's true in the pre-Civil War period too. There were lots of compromises. None of it really worked, though it pushed back the reckoning a bit.

On the other hand, what the Second Congress did worked -- backed, as it was, by the Continental Army and French allies. The Civil War was resolved in the same way.

I'm not sure I really see the point of trying to resolve things through the current structures either, though I keep trying to do my best to do my duty as a citizen. But if next year or next month the President is going to do an 'executive amnesty' that is aimed at adding ten or twenty million new voters by personal fiat... well, that's the inverse of expelling 15,750,000 voters who disagree with you. Neither of them is persuasion so much as violence; the votes that follow either change are functions of the violence that forcibly altered the electorate.

Posted by: Grim at October 28, 2014 10:36 PM

People tried lots of stuff through (more fully) representative government that didn't work. That's true in the pre-Civil War period too. There were lots of compromises. None of it really worked, though it pushed back the reckoning a bit.

I see that claim made about present-day politics too, but it seems to be based on a cherry picked sample of "times we didn't get our way 100%" that completely ignores all the times the other side hasn't gotten what they wanted either. By its very nature, compromise means neither side will get its way 100%. That's what it's designed to do, and you don't see the point???

Wow. How does anyone live in a society (or a marriage, or a partnership) if they can't stomach not getting their own way all the time?

Our system was set up to foster compromise because the ability to work out problems without shooting people is a fundamental difference between us and countries where despots and criminals run everything.

The Founders were rebelling against a government located halfway around the world that openly asserted that the colonies had no right to the same representation as other British subjects, yet collected taxes to fund that government. In all fairness, "that government" had just spend a ton of money defending the Colonies in the French/Indian war, so it wasn't a completely one-sided bargain. But it also wasn't an equitable partnership: colonists did not have the same rights as British citizens.

That government claimed the right to quarter soldiers in private homes and do all sorts of things our government is NOT doing.

That's not the situation here and no amount of papering over the critical differences is going to make them go away.

There are some things our government does that I believe are wrong, but then that has been true all through American history. That's a flimsy pretext for making war on your fellow citizens. There are other things our government has done that I disagree with, but my disagreement is outweighed by the agreement of other voters who outnumber me. Not all differences mean we have to start killing each other or forcibly driving other people from their homes.

You keep suggesting the situations are the same. They're not - there are striking differences:

1. There is nothing like the Continental Congress - no consensus among the states that the federal government is intolerable, no voting for delegates to discuss the situation and decide on a common plan of action, no serious attempt at anything resembling what we'd need if our current system were to be remade or replaced.

2. You mention the President and executive orders. There's a remedy for that: impeachment. There was no such remedy for royal overreach in Colonial times. Colonists didn't even HAVE a voice in Britain. Which is - again - why the Colonists rebelled: unlike us, they had no recourse within the system.

3. I'm not sure I really see the point of trying to resolve things through the current structures either. The "point" is to avoid killing other people over political differences (and to avoid the kind of chaos and disorder that exists in much of the world where there's no more civilized means of self governance). The "point" is that there are other ways to fight. Such fights have occurred all through our history.

Sometimes those means fail and we go to war.

As for the confusion between first/second continental congresses, in the paragraph immediately following the reference to Georgia not sending a delegate, I wrote:

The Continental Congress did not show up already resolved on Revolution. On the contrary, my recollection is that purpose of the first Congress was to try to form some consensus statement that could be conveyed to Britain (IOW, they wanted the colonies to speak as one).

I understand that you might not have seen that. I often miss things in comments when I'm reading hurriedly.

Finally, the Civil War wasn't just about slavery. It was also about states' rights: a deep disagreement that stretches back to the Articles of Confederation and the creation of our Constitution. It's bizarre to me to see someone asserting that there's no point to compromise. Especially someone who has experienced war. What the Iraqis and Afghans are enduring is tragic and horrific. It's not "better" than what we have now by any stretch of the imagination, and sweetness and light aren't prevailing over there right now.

Compromise on deep disagreements is what makes marriages, businesses, and entire civilizations possible. Fighting doesn't "resolve" those disagreements, by the way. It just forces one side to capitulate, often temporarily. Referring to voting as "violence" is likewise bizarre.

Posted by: Cass at October 29, 2014 07:32 AM

I'm familiar with these arguments, Cass. They're the ones Patrick Henry's opponents fielded against him in 1775, when people were still talking about reconciliation.

The point about the executive amnesty is the point about the British fleet. The army that's going to force you to obedience, and which has no interest in compromise with you, is already gathered. Your chains are already forged. There is no possibility of obtaining the votes to remove the President via impeachment.

Patrick Henry spoke before there was a Declaration of Independence, or a Second Congress to consider one. He was on the front edge. There were plenty of people still where you are, and that's understandable. He was a fire-eating radical, but that didn't make him wrong.

This is exactly the conflict that sparked the Civil War, too. I'm not saying they are the same, but that the conflict is the same: secession was about the fact that the new President and Congress were going to swamp the South's interests by admitting only free states in the future, so the votes of the South would be diluted to permanent minority status and they would be forced to comply.

When that didn't work, there was a war. Even then, when the South continued to attempt to resist in the Congress after the war, their representatives were expelled and they were put under military governments until they were willing to elect representatives who had the right opinions and would comply.

That's probably what's going to happen this time too. You think I'm trying to spur it, but what I'm trying to do is warn about it. When you start seeing guys like George and BattleBlue say that they will never vote again because the system has become a mockery, and when you see the President about to try to alter the fundamental character of the people by swamping it with new immigrants from a very different political culture, and you see a Congress that will not stand up to it (any more than they have stood up to the other executive abuses)... well, you see the old conflict raising its head again.

If you don't like calling what they're doing violence, call it aggression. It's aggression against the basic character of the American republic, and now even against the basic character of the American populace. That was the point about being the nation that fights for freedom: they don't just want to win an argument on a given issue, but to change who we are.

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2014 11:26 AM

Cass,

“Compromise on deep disagreements is what makes marriages, businesses, and entire civilizations possible.”

Upon which last straw would anyone believe the business no longer a business but a ponzi scheme? Upon which last straw would a spouse take it as a fait accompli - the dissolution of a marriage – as de facto? Upon unfaithfulness of the partner for the third, fourth, or umpteenth time? Some other broken vow? Having no say in the obligations of the vows for the other? Upon which last straw may anyone no longer consider himself wedded to the notion that we have a country and its government is us/ours? Upon which last straw do the somnambulists awake? Upon which last straw is the quid pro quo jig - security for obeisance/devotion/compliance/conformity – up?

”There are other things our government has done that I disagree with, but my disagreement is outweighed by the agreement of other voters who outnumber me”

If, in the course of democracy, the vote of the people has voiced a displeasure with the Law, and desire the abrogation of it - the Constitution - then bully for them. Let freedom ring. But what obligation have I to partake in the nation’s demise? I would no more vote on that matter than vote for the lesser evil – my demise, or, continued existence.

Posted by: George Pal at October 29, 2014 11:53 AM

The army that's going to force you to obedience, and which has no interest in compromise with you, is already gathered. Your chains are already forged. There is no possibility of obtaining the votes to remove the President via impeachment.

Nonsense. Has anyone tried? There is a possibility. You may find it too difficult, or want to give up without having tried, but that's not the same as there being "no possibility", and simply asserting that it is doesn't make it so.

When you start seeing guys like George and BattleBlue say that they will never vote again because the system has become a mockery, and when you see the President about to try to alter the fundamental character of the people by swamping it with new immigrants from a very different political culture, and you see a Congress that will not stand up to it (any more than they have stood up to the other executive abuses)... well, you see the old conflict raising its head again.

First of all, those immigrants are already here. They've been here for decades. And yet there has been no popular move to deport them en mass. That change in character already happened, Grim. It's not in the future.

I don't believe there is one immutable "character of the American republic". It changes over time. There is a Constitution that is amendable (and has been amended many times) by the States and also effectively amended/interpreted by the courts, which I am less happy about. You have a tendency to equate this "fundamental nature of the Republic" with what you believe, except when you don't believe it. In this, you're no different from anyone else. And as you've already pointed out, this is HARDLY the first time government has acted in a way totally inconsistent with what you claim to be the fundamental character of America.

People aren't terribly consistent in what they believe.

I will take refusing to vote a lot more seriously when people who refuse to vote also refuse to pay taxes. So long as one pays taxes, one is actively supporting the current system. Not voting does nothing to change things. Large numbers of people refusing to pay taxes, would. So would large numbers of people voting.

That's one way of fighting, isn't it? And yet it's not much used because it's unpleasant and hard. If you really believe picking up a gun and trying to force your will on others is easier than either of those alteratives, I've got a very large bridge I'd like to sell you.

One benefit of compromise is that it separates out those situations that can be dealt with by compromise from those where people are so fed up that they resort to *actual* (as opposed to rhetorical or Internet/imaginary) violence. It slows down decision making, which when we're talking about going to war is a *good* thing, as such decisions should never be made hastily or without serious deliberation and planning.

When I start to see that kind of planning and deliberation taking place (a la the Continental Congress), maybe I'll take Internet comments more seriously. I don't need someone else to warn me that war is always a possibility. My family has been in every war back to the Revolution and no recent generation (I don't know my family history past 100 years ago) has avoided military service and war.

But the suggestion that I have to give more heed to Internet comments than listening to them (and paying for other people to make them on my site) because they may decide to pick up a gun and drive me and my family from our homes doesn't sit too well with me.

If you think about that one for a moment, I'm sure you'll understand why. Argue on the merits and I'll listen. Making vague threats of some violent outcome and I'm going to be far less receptive.

Posted by: Cass at October 29, 2014 11:54 AM

Upon which last straw would anyone believe the business no longer a business but a ponzi scheme? Upon which last straw would a spouse take it as a fait accompli - the dissolution of a marriage – as de facto? Upon unfaithfulness of the partner for the third, fourth, or umpteenth time? Some other broken vow? Having no say in the obligations of the vows for the other? Upon which last straw may anyone no longer consider himself wedded to the notion that we have a country and its government is us/ours? Upon which last straw do the somnambulists awake? Upon which last straw is the quid pro quo jig - security for obeisance/devotion/compliance/conformity – up?

Sounds like an individual decision to me - not one you get to determine for others.

If you see a bright line, argue it and support your argument. Clearly you draw it in a different place, but in reality the alternative (abolishing the government) is something you have never personally experienced. You have only assumptions about whether you or I would be better off or not.

You can certainly make these arguments, George. I'll even pay for you to make them on my site and respond to them. But the conclusion isn't determined in advance, nor can you decide for me and mine. And that's a good thing, I'm pretty sure.

You're essentially arguing "frustration" without making a case for why anyone else should draw the line in the same place or even giving us rules for drawing the line. And I'm saying, "not so fast", because I'm not willing to blindly follow you or substitute your decisions for mine.

Posted by: Cass at October 29, 2014 12:00 PM

One more thing, re this:

... the suggestion that I have to give more heed to Internet comments than listening to them (and paying for other people to make them on my site) because they may decide to pick up a gun and drive me and my family from our homes doesn't sit too well with me.

I don't think this is actually what George has suggested by the way. Don't know BattleBlue well enough, but don't recall him suggesting this either.

Just wanted to make that clear. The suggestion I'm referring to has been in your comments. If there are people out there who would seriously do this without the planning and deliberation I spoke of earlier, I would view them as basically irrational and dangerous.

You don't tear down the existing order with no plan and no thought for what comes after. That doesn't mean the existing order can never be changed, but you're not going to get me to say that "don't worry - be happy/the world is ending and it's gonna be totes amaze" is any kind of substitution for (or has any real similarity to) what occurred prior to our own revolution.

And that was a far, far smaller group of colonies. Smashing things to bits with no plan for dealing with the fallout doesn't recommend itself to me as a serious proposal.

Posted by: Cass at October 29, 2014 12:10 PM

The only thing I've advocated is moving to dissolve the Union, politically and peacefully. I think it can't be sustained nonviolently, and these pressures strike me as making the violence all the more likely.

I will take refusing to vote a lot more seriously when people who refuse to vote also refuse to pay taxes.

I don't see the point in refusing to vote, but as far as refusing to pay taxes goes, that process is well underway. The IRS estimates that nearly twenty percent of taxable income in the US is going unreported, as millions have shifted to illegal, unlicensed businesses to make their living. The shadow economy in the US is estimated at $2 Trillion a year, which is more than half the size of Germany's whole economy ($3.2T). It's more than twice the size of Australia's economy.

My ancestors have fought in the wars too. One of my mother's folk was the Surgeon General for the Continental Army; another was an officer among the Continental Rangers. They fought on both sides of the Civil War.

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2014 12:42 PM

First of all, those immigrants are already here. They've been here for decades.

I'm thinking of this study, for one thing, that shows the recent effects of finding ways to register them to vote. The estimate is 700,000 such voters, in key states that gave the Obama/Reid faction the votes in the Senate it needed to ramrod Obamacare (another attempt at permanently altering the voting population's character by putting the majority of Americans on Federal subsidies, without which they could not afford a newly mandatory purchase).

Posted by: Grim at October 29, 2014 12:56 PM

Cass,

”Sounds like an individual decision to me - not one you get to determine for others... nor can you decide for me and mine.”

I’d not said anymore than it (not voting) was a personal decision. I would no more impose that decision on others than have their decision (to vote) imposed on me.

”You're essentially arguing "frustration" without making a case for why anyone else should draw the line in the same place or even giving us rules for drawing the line. And I'm saying, "not so fast", because I'm not willing to blindly follow you or substitute your decisions for mine.”

I did make a case, albeit one in general terms for which I’d gladly provide details. Better yet, Garet Garrett does me better than I do. His THE PEOPLE’S POTTAGE: BOOK ONE THE REVOLUTION WAS (1938), BOOK TWO EX AMERICA (1951), BOOK THREE THE RISE OF EMPIRE (1951) is available free online. I recommend it highly and note that in the greater thesis he has a litany of what the people had voted for and not got, and what the people had never been given the opportunity to vote for or against, but had, nevertheless, got. All of which led me to my comment near the beginning of this thread part of which insisted: “ultimately, people get not what they vote for but what they will stand for.”

Posted by: George Pal at October 29, 2014 01:40 PM

I’d not said anymore than it (not voting) was a personal decision. I would no more impose that decision on others than have their decision (to vote) imposed on me.

I got that from your comment, George (hence my earlier point that I hadn't heard you threatening to force me at gunpoint to do anything. Sorry if I was unclear.

I was attempting to answer your question, "At what point...." with my sense that that point varies. Oops! Gotta go!

Posted by: Cass at October 29, 2014 03:07 PM