a node at the edge  

October 28, 2002
PoliticsVote as if your life is dependent on it

In some ways, I don't think there's ever been a US election in this country that has more far reaching implications than the one next week.

If the Republicans gain control of the Senate next week, and maintain control of the House, they'll have full control of the Senate, the House, and the Executive Branch of government. More importantly, if the Democrats lose control of the Senate, the Executive Branch will most likely read a message into the results: The American people support the bombing of Iraq, even if it means doing so unilaterally.

We're in a recession, the unemployment numbers are high, and there are record numbers of people without adequate health insurance. This is in addition to depleted pension funds, fears for economic security, and a growing distrust of corporations. All of these are factors that favor a Democratic election. If the Democrats lose control of the Senate in spite of this, an interpretation can very easily be made that the issue of security is more important than issues of economics and social services.

In the last several months, our security and the invasion of Iraq have become quite heavily bound together. By voting security, or by saying to the President, "You have our full support, here's a Senate and a House that will back you", I'm fairly sure that there can be no chance of stopping an invasion of Iraq, even if the US can't get support from allies and the attack becomes a unilateral invasion. I don't want to say that President Bush is obsessed with invading Iraq, but I could comfortably say that this item is most likely the top of his agenda.

I am unhappy with the Democrats now. I am especially unhappy with the Democrats who voted to give President Bush what are essentially war powers in regards to Iraq. Among these are Jean Carnahan who is, in many ways, more semantically aligned with the Republicans than the Democrats. However, if she doesn't win the election, Jim Talent will win and that's one more nail in the coffin of Democratic control of the Senate.

Now is not the time to send messages to the Democratic Party that we're unhappy with them by voting Green Party, or another party, or not voting at all. Regardless of whatever your views are in regards to so many differing issues, it's vital now that we work to send one message, and one message only with this election: We the American people do not support an invasion of Iraq.

If nothing else, we need to send a message that we must be given time to understand the consequences of this action, and the alternatives.

Last week we watched Chechen rebels take over a theater in Russia. The end result is over 150 people dead. This in spite of Russian soldiers controlling Chechnya. Again and again we see that military action on the part of a government does not control or stop terrorism -- terrorism transcends borders. If anything, military action encourages terrorism because it demonstrates to the non-extremists, those who are borderline, those who want peace but despair of ever getting it, that the only actions open to them is terrorism.

I wrote the following to Daniel Romano from the Green Party today:

    Control of the Senate is up for grabs, and the race between Carnahan and Talent is incredibly close. Votes for the Green Party are pulled, as you know, from voters who would normally vote Democratic. And in a close race, this could be enough to give the election to Talent.

    I know you have stated that you feel there is no difference between the two candidates, and I don't like Carnahan either. I am extremely unhappy at her and other Democrats giving Bush what amounts to war powers. But the Democrats losing the Senate now would send a signal to the White House and Congress that issues of economics (normally the province of Dems) were not the key elements of the vote this year -- that people are voting security. And this could, and in fact I believe it will, encourage our unilateral invasion of Iraq. This invasion would be disastrous, not only for the Iraqi people, but for ourselves, as well.

    I know you know you don't have a chance to win, but that you're hoping to get enough of the vote to continue the Green Party on ballots. And normally if the threat of an invasion of Iraq wasn't hanging over all our heads I would help -- and send that clear message to the Democratic party. But now is not the time to focus on these issues. We have to do everything we can to send a message to Congress that we do not want this 'war'.

Regardless of your political beliefs, whether you're Republican or Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian or Independent, if you believe that a unilateral invasion of Iraq would be a mistake, and that we need to take time to think this issue through, then consider your vote next week. If you live in an area that has a hotly contested election, especially for the Senate (such as in Missouri), think about what your vote can do and say before you cast it. Then vote and send a message to the parties in your area why you voted as you did.

Vote as if your life is dependent on it, because it may very well be.

Posted by Bb at October 28, 2002 03:14 PM

Trackback Count (3)


I've been wrestling the same questions lately, but I can't claim to have won yet.

While I agree about the importance of sending a message vis a vis Iraq and the looming invasion, what about next time? Or last time? There's always going to be an Iraq until the people who get us into these situations are no longer in power. So for how long do we slap wrists with threats to break ranks with the party right up until election day eve? Eventually, we have to prove that these aren't just idle threats, that we won't always come crawling back to the fold, apologetic and donkey- (or elephant-) faced. Eventually, we have to suck it up and say what we really mean or the next time it will be even easier not to. And even easier for the status-quo politicians to count on us backing down from our threats.

But, like you Shelley, I haven't entirely convinced myself that this year is that time. There's almost too much too lose in the short term when we vote with our minds on the long term.

Posted by: steve on October 28, 2002 05:29 PM

I am more and more convinced that a war with Iraq would be a disaster. And I'm more and more convinced that the Dems losing control of the senate would be seen as Bush as a vote of confidence, especially as it relates to Iraq. I could be wrong, in which case I have a few years to convince Democrats to start paying attention (or getting involved more heavily in the Green Party -- perhaps I'll run for office).

But if I'm right.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 07:05 PM

'I'm more and more convinced that the Dems losing control of the senate would be seen as Bush as a vote of confidence'

I agree, but winning seats for the Democrats would also be read as a vote of confidence. And not one I'm any more willing to give.

Posted by: steve on October 28, 2002 07:28 PM

I'll vote as if the lives of unborn children depend on it, so I'll be voting Republican.

Posted by: Mike Krautstrunk on October 29, 2002 08:55 AM

I posted something similar, Shelley, but there's one point on which I disagree. Not voting is not an option. Not voting means one less vote to oppose the Republican agenda.

Posted by: Elaine of Kalilily on October 29, 2002 09:47 AM

I agree with most everything you said Shelley - even if I'll lean towards voting Republican. (I say 'lean' because I vote on individuals and not parties and always seem to vote mixed.)

The one thing I disagree with you about is the importance. There's never been a vote with as far reaching implications as this one? No way! The elections of FDR, Lincoln and Reagan (to name a few) each had major issues with far reaching implications. So next week's election is the most important since... the last one. And will be the most important until... the next one!

Sorry for being flippant, I am definitely not trying to trivialize the issues involving this election.

Two more thoughts:

(1) The cyclical nature of things. Seems to me that in the last 25 years we've had BOTH a 100% Republican and Democratic federal legislatures with associated presidents. What goes around truely does come around.

(2) Seems like every few years politicians see mandates where grey areas proliferate. Wasn't 1998 this great mandate regarding the idiocy of the Repuplicans impeaching Clinton? Wasn't 1992 all about "read my lips... no new taxes"

Truely informed politicians listen to their constituents. Not only do they do they understand the uncommon moments of mandates, but I tend to think something else can be inferred here: the anti-war movement just plainly has not made enough of a convincing case.

And of course, if the Democrats DO retain or gain seats next week, that will also (a) not be a mandate, but (b) infer that the anti-war movement _has_ made a decently convincing case.

Jeez.... come to think of it, democracy DOES work!

Posted by: DD on October 29, 2002 11:54 AM

I would just invite your comments on where and when terrorists have been successful?

History seems to demonstrate that, in the end, terrorist loose. Even the terrorists of the Zionist right lost with Begin's boys taking it on the chin from their own people. The Viet Cong lost, the North sent armor south to win that war. The Brits won in Malaysa. The Moros lost. The OAS, Red Brigades, Klan, Weathermen. Even Arafat can be seen to have been unsuccessful.

As for the theatre takeover. There aren't that many Chechen rebels. 50 of their best were killed, versus about 120 civilians. Terror can't win at that ratio, there are lots more Russians than Chechens. The takeover was a dramatic flop for them.

Will war with Iraq prevent terror? Maybe. Will there be terror without a war? You bet. I suggest it doesn't matter. They'll hate us until they are all dead or we have changed to meet their every demand. And we cannot, because each little group will has a different set of demands. Hindus will bomb us if we become Islamic.

Posted by: Chuck on October 29, 2002 01:25 PM

I agree, but winning seats for the Democrats would also be read as a vote of confidence. And not one I'm any more willing to give.

Blah blah blah. This is the sort of shit that only makes sense if the only way you ever contribute to the political process is by voting on election day.

All of us who are going to vote Democratics regardless of whether we would under other less dire circumstances can't merely vote. We then have to send off a nice paper latter, signed sealed delivered, to those for whom we voted explaining to them in no uncertain terms why we cast our votes in their direction.

And then we need to hound their asses for the rest of their terms, to make sure they understand.

So, yeah. If you're a lazy ass whiner, then don't vote Democratic in order to stop the GOP. Because then you'd have to do some actual work after election day as well.

Posted by: The One True b!X on October 30, 2002 12:26 PM

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