Sunday, June 19, 2016

Neither Devil Nor Deep Blue Sea

In this election season, we are faced with two prospective nominees, neither of whom is personally noble, and both of whom have stood for the exploitation of entire groups of people in promotion of their individual prosperity and power agendas. They have both climbed on the backs of the weak for the purpose self-aggrandizement. They both seem infected with a commercial mentality towards human life, that if it is not to their convenience, or no longer useful to them, then it is to be discarded; this is a great wickedness pervading much of the globe nowadays, as human trafficking of “disposable people” is rampant. Both would-be presidents have pursued dishonesty, have failed to confess wrongdoing, and have sought to compromise the integrity of others through their behavior.

Neither candidate has displayed possession of great wisdom. Bombast seems the order of the day, and winning at the expense of individual wholeness seems the point of both campaigns. Each is cosy with market and political interests abroad who are antithetical to American ideas about freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and so forth. Both display repulsive hubris, and lack of humility. Their promises of amazing revolutionary ability to solve national problems—from pollution to immigration to self defense—seem silly on one extreme, and dangerous on another.

 Voters who have long believed that their choice is binary, that voting for a write-in candidate is “wasting a vote” should consider: What is the point of democracy? Is our determination to win, to delude ourselves into thinking that we are in sole control of our own destiny, so paramount to our expression that voting for a winner is all we want? Or do we want to vote for someone who is – despite their human fallibility – a person whom we can respect? Someone who, no matter what their present low position, embodies a character that we admire? When faced with the proposition of choosing between two people who are personally and politically repugnant, voting for one or the other is genuinely to waste a vote. To use a biblical example, in this election, we are stuck between Pharaoh’s chariots and the Red Sea. There does not seem to be a better choice between the two. I cannot in good conscience vote for either of these people.

I do believe that the King’s heart – or the Queen's – is ultimately in God’s hand. And so it is with the results of this election in November. But instead of choosing one of two evils, I contend that reasonable voters should look at this as an opportunity to make a real democratic selection from a broader group of eligible candidates. And our Founders provided for this within our Constitution: were no one person to get a majority, the choice of a new president would be pushed to our Congress. The top three candidates would then be voted upon, suggesting that the Founders hoped that there would be more than two people considered worthy of the executive office in any given election year. I know that there are more than two, and certainly others than the two who are prospective nominees. 

In the November presidential election, I am going to write in a name. This person may not get more than my vote. But I will have expressed support for a person with a character I can respect, a person of whom I think, “There’s someone who displays good judgment, and grace and humility, and who bears the character of the true public servant.” I think that if Americans were to follow this rule in their presidential voting—no matter how futile it might seem—it would both reflect the character of the nation in a positive light, and give opportunity for people who are without the financial means, who have not been bought by or sold to special interests, to be recognized for their fundamental contributions to their communities. And it is also possible, that this may instruct the person who ultimately is elected—whether it be a representative of the two parties, or a third person yet unknown—that they owe much to the individual voter and not to the great machines which now dominate the political process.

 At least one candidate in modern times has been elected to national office via a write-in candidacy. I do not delude myself that my proposal is likely to succeed in this case. But I do believe that it is a morally solid and intellectually defensible alternative to naming one of two people who are neither trustworthy nor decent. And it will also give me the pleasure of supporting someone for the highest office in the land – no matter how quixotically – who might never think to run for any public office because they are too busy being a good citizen.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Bugging Out

My bathroom is currently the most toxic room in my house. I have sprayed every baseboard, and some of the joints where the ceiling meets the walls, with poison in order to stem a mysterious invasion of small winged bugs whose origin and identity I have not been able to establish.

I stayed up for hours the other night, scrolling through online lists of insects, trying to figure out what these little creatures are. This is not to be recommended as a pre-bedtime ritual. It is not calming to read about all the six and eight-legged pests that are or could be inhabiting your relatively clean home and wandering around it in the wee hours.

I did worry about termites, but these bugs don't fit the profile, as they have neatly nipped-in waists, not the shapeless bulk of those dreaded wood-eaters. They look like winged ants, but they are pale and not as bulbous, with longer antennae. And they are dying by the dozens in my bathtub. Every evening I get home I have to take a swatch of damp toilet tissue and mop up all the little bodies. There are none in the cabinets underneath my sinks, and my closet and bedroom seem bug free as well. The only difference in the general area is the arrival of a new batch of pinestraw and four new boxwood bushes in the flowerbed outside, but would that have led to an invasion? I don't object to bugs in their place – the great outdoors – but I do not wish to share my house with them!