Tag Archives: Elections

Perturbations and trembling


Jefferson’s Monticello

As the wired world knows, it’s time for Americans to change Presidents again. Some election years are simply more distasteful than others. I find this particular one a bit more revolting than most, but things settle, and our worst expectations seldom come to pass.

My attempt at glibness notwithstanding, I can’t stop myself from invoking (or obsessing on?) Thomas Jefferson’s words:

“Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  (1785)

Truly. But I also reflect on what we as a nation have survived. God is just, and God is also gracious; and his grace is as matchless as it is undeserved.


Filed under News, Politics & Elections, Reflections, Thoughts & Reading

How to Survive the Coming Campaign Year: a Pictorial Primer

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Filed under People, Places, & Things, Photo Galleries

On what I might call “principled indifference”…

Most of my friends can’t stand — like, to the point of shrieking — the idea that I’m not going to vote for President in the coming election. I think I’ve made my point clearly, but they insist that I at least have to vote against someone, which, they admit, means voting for someone. There is no “Just Say No” box on the ballot, nor do I have the energy to promote a write-in campaign for Coolidge (not the great late Calvin Coolidge, but my cat Coolidge).

What most of my friends are missing here is that the lesser of two evils is evil. I have no duty to my God-ordained republic to enter into a covenant with evil by voting for either one of the lessers the two parties, essentially consolidated in all but name, advance as candidates.

“But you MUST vote against Evil A, even if you don’t like Evil B!” they plead.

“Then I might as well vote for Evil A in order to vote against Evil B, because I can’t abide him either. The point is, they are equally unprincipled, and I cannot vote for someone who does not represent my principles. Evil A and Evil B are both avowed statists, and are therefore unqualified in principle to govern a democratic republic. Nope.”

They don’t give up, and I don’t budge. That’s what would be so much fun about elections, if it weren’t such a bore.

Voting is a great thing, and for a long time it was a meaningful thing to me. But that was back when there were discernible differences between candidates. Now there really aren’t. God shed his grace on America, and I do believe God has withdrawn his grace from America for a season, and I can’t know how long that season will be.

I will certainly preserve my right to vote by voting for my congressional representative, local things, state initiatives, etc., as long as those things have meaning and adhere to the principles I consider basic to a republic. But as for who is ultimately elected President in 2012, I see no difference in principle among the contenders likely to advance to actual candidacy. Moreover, absent a candidate with principles I can honestly vote for — things like a market-driven economy where all commodities, including insurance and health care, are subject to the value-driven choices of a consumer market — I would consider it unprincipled to vote for an unprincipled candidate just to vote against an equally unprincipled candidate. I don’t understand why this is so hard for principled, intelligent people to understand and accept.

No one has to vote according to his principles; people can vote against the principles they claim to hold if they want to. Nor can I be compelled to vote against my principles. We still have a choice, whether to vote for someone, to vote implicitly against someone, or to vote for no one, for any or no reason. But I do think voting should be a reasonable exercise. Like taking out the trash.


Filed under Action & Being


Mail-in ballots have truncated voting into a perfunctory triumph of government efficiency over public franchise. Back in 1992, I wrote guest editorials in Tacoma’s newspaper, The News Tribune, advocating the retention of poll voting. Pierce County, where Tacoma is located, is now the only county in Washington that still has poll voting — though most Pierce County residents vote by mail. I now live in Asotin County, and have no option but to vote by mail. I have no way to influence my neighbors to pull on their raincoats — well, here, put on their sunglasses; I’m not in Tacoma anymore — and head out to the polls. Three weeks of campaigning before the election are lost to candidates, because many people vote as soon as their ballots come in the mail three weeks before the election. Asotin County, Washington’s smallest and least funded county, does not publish a County Voters’ Guide, leaving me to wonder for whom I should vote for things like PUD water specialist. I can either go to the library and peruse the Lewiston, Idaho newspaper for relevant editorials, or prevail upon trusted neighbors and church brethren to enlighten me.

Voting at the polls in Tacoma was always kind of a treat. I got to know Lucy, the poll judge, over the years. She brought cookies to reward voters, and even though I couldn’t eat her cookies, I was touched by her neighborliness. She always applied an “I Voted” sticker to my coat collar and gave me a hug before we left the polls. Lucy, as much as politics, got me out for every single election. Now, mystified by the politics of water quality qualifications, politics alone drives me to walk down the driveway and stick my ballot in the mailbox for pickup. No neighborliness, no hug, no influence on neighbors to go out and do likewise.

Government wins: a jaded voter is a compliant citizen, conditioned to lassitude, and servile to duty.

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