Voting and Praying
by Dave Anderson
Both unpopular candidates this election have lit the way towards the “Third Party” or the write-in-and-sulk vote option for many citizens. Let us look at what this involves both dynamically and policy-wise.
Firstly there’s the Write-In. One can write in a candidate (say, Kasich, Reagan, or Gilligan) as a “protest vote.” This is an action akin to prayer. It provides the mental salve of imagining one is “doing something” while actually doing nothing. The problem, though, is that nobody sees. Nobody cares. Nobody knows. In fact, a write-in or third party vote are arguably less useful than prayer because there may very well be a god. But for sure, He, or anybody else won’t be reading, collating, or collecting write ins. So for efficiency’s sake just pray.
Interestingly, when the votes are in third parties do worse than they do in pre-election polls. The rational conclusion here is that most people alert enough to get to the polls don’t really believe their disposable protest vote is effective: they just want the therapy of telling pollsters and friends they are angry.
But it’s not therapeutic, it’s dangerous. If disgruntled Republicans or Bernie protesters don’t vote properly to negate other votes going to whomever they hate, the ghost of Ralph Nader (who is still alive, even) will appear before us. In 2000 Ralph Nader was the craggy face of the protest vote of Democrats upset with their party – but ultimately their protest was perverted by the resultant win by the Naderites’ worst nightmare: George W. Bush. Do Greens and Libertarians want to cause a disaster? Again? If anti-Trump Republicans believe Mr. Trump is so unacceptable, to not actively vote against him is simply a cop-out and tacit approval while taking no responsibility.
Before one’s prayers are directed to Mr. Johnson or Dr. Stein, maybe, just for ecumenical decency we should consider where these prayers are going and what is being prayed for here.
“Libertarianism” is a great idea – the triumph of the rugged individual over the collective masses, one person against a corrupt nanny state. Even their name is intoxicating, but what exactly is one endorsing with a Libertarian protest vote? Because aside affable Gary “Aleppo” Johnson’s pleasant and reasonable demeanor, there seems to be a mismatch between his platform and what voters think he represents. So let us investigate.
This is the Libertarian Party’s vision. https://www.lp.org/platform
– Education will be entirely private, so forget all government schools, universities, or common educational standards: we will be paying for the (unsubsidized) entirety of our children’s education at private schools. Or they’ll be educated “at home.” Which may teach the little rug-rats to pray more.
– Health care: there will be no Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. The insurance cartels and drug companies will write all the rules. Including the safety standards of drugs. This is great if you’re never sick, and don’t mind it when people with less insurance than you share their communicable diseases with you when coughing on a subway, touching currency, or an elevator button. Vaccinate your children ….if you like, or not: there’s no public policy on vaccinations in Libertarianland. Let’s see how that works out.
– National Defense: The L.P. will cut the military so dramatically the sea lanes of trade will be unpatrolled and unprotected by the United States. Buying Chinese baubles or gassing a car might be problematic because in the geopolitical free-for-all after the demise of Pax-Americana, the sea lanes will be controlled by China, Russia, Iran, or anybody else who moves in to fill the power void we left.
– Foreign policy: The L.P.’s isolationism says — be nice, but let the world do what it wants. So if Russia decides to re-create the Union of Soviet Putin Republics, we stand by. We let ISIS infect and behead two continents unopposed, and the shaky new democracies we underwrite everywhere will fall into totalitarianism. But what’s it to us? We’re libertarians!
– Immigration: no borders. Borders are an artificial big government construct against “unrestricted movements of humans.” Except humans “who pose a credible threat to security, health or property,” the doors are wide open. Expect a very different colored America in that event.
-Environment: If a company destroys our environment what is left of our government justice system will entertain civil compensation only. With no environmental regulations, victims poisoned by pollution will be allowed to go up against billion dollar corporations in civil court, eventually. The take-away: expect pollution.
– Gun control: Anybody, anywhere, for any reason will be able to buy any firearm; terrorists, felons, and worse, teenagers. Consider that. Guns will be like coke or cocaine, available to all if you have the money.
– Drugs: The Libertarian party is opposed to all drug laws, including prescriptions for antibiotics. But the fun side is everybody can get high, on anything, all the time. We might need to.
– Death penalty: The L.P. are against – but that shouldn’t be an issue because with the total arming of the citizenry, locals will take care of “justice.” If your blood hasn’t run cold yet, there’s more;
-Abortion: On demand, anytime, anywhere, right up to the delivery room if you can pay for it. (It’s a contractual thing.)
-Critics of “Citizens United” relax – in Libertarian America corporations and billionaires will be able to buy any politician without even pretending government access is equal.
-Discrimination: A regular bonanza of bigotry here. Discriminate at will. That’ll put those uppity minorities and girls back in their place.
– Child porn and children’s welfare: The child porn problem is one the L.P. have really skated on. Officially they are against it because they do differentiate between adults and children. Dandy. But by gutting government enforcement against this kind of predation, who, exactly, is going to have a commercial interest in opposing such common evils? There are many other absurdities and internal contradictions with the terrifying Libertarian agenda, but the above are representative.
So that’s where the most popular protest vote prayers of the moment are going. Part of voting is preventing the candidates one can’t stand being elected. To “stand up to Donald/Hillary” is not done effectively via third parties in our system, or churlish write-ins. Probably no politician after winning an election has ever sat down and said: “Oh, the third party votes were so high, I better reform my agenda.” These are cop-outs. To prevent evil, whomever you believe is evil this time, one must stand up against it, and vote to actively prevent it. Because in elections at least, prayer won’t cut it.
David Anderson is an Australian-American (retired) attorney in New York City with a background in venture capital, criminal defense, and M.& A. He writes for counterpunch.org and themoderatevoice.com and consults for an M.& A. firm.