Monday, November 3

situational ethics

Ok, so I'm going to say it: if you are an American citizen, I think you would be doing both your own country and pretty much the entire rest of the world a good turn by voting for Barack Obama, if you haven't already.

Look, I'm not buying in. I have friends who are convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that the whole game is rigged. Corrupt, corrupt, from the bottom to the top. A lot of days I can't help agreeing with them, and more often than not our only really disagreement is about the competence and unity of the machinery. I am not operating under an assumption that American democracy is anything but a disaster-in-progress, or that an outcome favorable to the slightly less reprehensible political party is going to resolve our big fat structural problems or most of the cultural ones. I don't have any illusions about the ability of any person in this thing to remain uncompromised. I see little reason to think that electoral outcomes in this country are not subject to considerable manipulation.

But here is a fact: There are a whole hell of a lot of people dead who would still be alive if George W. Bush had never taken office. They are not dead because of regrettable necessity. They are not dead because of a stroke of bad luck. They are dead because of arrogance and ignorance and cruelty and greed and corruption and indifference. They are dead because the wrong people were in power.

And if you think it doesn't matter, you're wrong.

You know what I want? I want a world without states, without borders, and without armies. I want locality and individual freedom and community and a civilization that takes care of people and treats the world as a place to live instead of a bottomless fuel tank, that treats people as persons and not so much fuel. Maybe all of this is a bullshit hippie pipe dream. I suspect that it doesn't really matter to this argument if my ideals are anarchic, libertarian socialist, or just kind of inclined towards everybody getting healthcare and having more vacation days and better beer. (I can admit it: This isn't even an argument in any meaningful sense.) What matters is, more or less, whether I'm willing to accept either or both of it has to get worse before it can get better and it doesn't make any difference.

I'm not, really.

We are not going to have a world revolution tomorrow, or the day after that, or just as likely any time this decade or the next. There's precious little evidence that if we did, we'd know what to do with it. What we will have tomorrow is an opportunity to tip the scales in the direction of sanity and decency. It's not much, but it's one small thing. And at this scale, small things matter.


While I'm at it, if you're in Colorado and you don't touch a single other box on the ballot, please go out and vote no on 48.