Second Followup to a 18 November 2002 Vox Populi
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
by Kenneth Scot Stremsky
A Response to Mr. Berg-Andersson from Mr. Stremsky... [Reference Vox Populi 18 November 2002 - Ed]
I wrote my comments dealing with non voters because of the following.
Congress did not declare War against Vietnam.
Our country forced people to fight for us in a foreign land via the draft.
We did not allow our troops to win when we sent them into battle.
We called the troops we forced to fight for us baby killers while they were in Vietnam and baby killers when they got back.
For many years, our country did not care about the harm that Agent Orange did to many of our soldiers.
For many, many years our country did not care about the mental health problems that many of our Vietnam veterans have had.
If people do not like the candidates who are on the ballot, they should write in the name of someone they do like or none of the above. Usually I vote for the lesser of two evils. Sometimes, I write in the name of someone I do like. When you do not vote, you say you do not care about our soldiers. When you do not vote, you say you do not care about your liberties and the liberties of others.
For several years, I have advocated putting none of the above boxes on ballots and if a none of the above box obtains more than fifty percent of the votes cast for a particular position, another election should be held and the people who received fewer votes than none of the above for the particular position should not be allowed to participate in the special election.
It is possible to find out how many people could have been eligible voters on election day. You only have to know a person's age and whether a person has been denied the right to vote because of legal reasons. You can then track people over time to see whether they showed up on general election day or sent in an absentee ballot.
I have no problem with people doing what you did in the 1980s when you "walked into the voting booth, closed the curtain, and opened it up again without pulling a single lever for any candidate on the entire ballot! Every office up for election in my Election District that particular First Tuesday after the First Monday in November got at least one less vote than the total votes eventually cast for each office on the ballot... my own "non-vote" that day, thus, counted (because my "non-vote" actually showed up numerically in the final tally of the voting!)" People who do what you did that day are showing that they care about our soldiers and our liberties because they show up on general election day. My problem is with the people who are unwilling to show up on general election day or send in an absentee ballot. A person could send in an absentee ballot with none of the above written in for each office.
I think it is productive in our Democracy to say that people who are unwilling to show up on general election day or send in an absentee ballot spit on all the graves of all the soldiers who have died fighting for our liberties and all the graves of the people who died on September 11, 2001. When government knows it can get away with infringing on civil liberties, it is more likely to infringe on civil liberties. When government knows it can get away with corruption, it is more likely to be corrupt. When members of Congress know they can get away with passing a Resolution authorizing the use of force when a Declaration of War should be necessary, Congress is not likely to fulfill all its Article One, Section Eight War making responsibilities. When people do not show up on general election day or send in an absentee ballot, they say they do not care about the previous things.
If a person has shown most of the time that the person does not care about the person's civil liberties and the civil liberties of others, I do not think there is anything wrong with the government and society not caring about the person's civil liberties.
Kenneth Scot Stremsky,
Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:
Mr. Stremsky's point is taken... however, the Constitution of the United States- in its 14th Amendment- reads as follows:
[N]or shall any State... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This is just one provision of our Constitution that makes it most clear that ALL persons in American society are entitled to the protections of that document- in this particular case, Equal Protection of a State's Laws- regardless of whether they, in fact, show up at the polls on General Election Day (or, for that matter, any other election day: primary, school election, special referendum, etc.) or not.
There will always be those who, for whatever reason (from the unintentional or even unavoidable to the most nefarious, where not outright perfidious), will not at all pull their "political weight" and yet still reap the benefits of living and breathing in a free society (and there will be many of us who DO pull their "political weight" on a regular basis and feel miffed that we are "doing most of the heavy lifting")-- for many of these people, their non-participation will likely become chronic: yet the fact remains that they still get to live and breathe as free as those of us who actually DO all that "heavy lifting". If we were then to go ahead and treat them all as second-class citizens (in particular, compared to ourselves), however, the Liberty of all would be that much more diminished (and so treating them would do nothing at all to motivate them to change their electoral behavior in any event!)
Were a very wealthy person to tell me: "Guess what? I didn't break the Eighth Commandment because I didn't steal today!", I'm sorry- but I'm not going to be all that terribly impressed; I'd be at least somewhat the more impressed were a homeless person who hadn't eaten anything halfway-decent in days leave a full bread truck with an open door unmolested and then tell me the exact same thing! Likewise, the true test of one's belief in Liberty is when one believes in the freedom of those with whom one does not at all agree!!-- because it is all too easy (where it is not also cheap) to defend the freedoms of those with whom one agrees. But it is the minority that most needs protection from the so-called Tyranny of the Majority and, thus, defense of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of those opposed to one's own views is the attitude that best defends the rights and liberties of all (and we all will need quite a lot of such defense in post-11 September 2001 America if we are to continue to be Abe Lincoln's "last, best hope of earth"!)
This does not, of course, mean that one should not then express one's Freedom of Speech and, at least where one owns one (and the Internet has made such ownership that much more available to the common person), Freedom of the Press and argue most vociferously for their own viewpoint (certainly that is what I myself am doing right now!) Constructive debate (and I consider my responses to Mr. Stremsky as well as his own response above to be well within this category) is a most healthy thing in a free society (something that Al-Qa'eda and the like-minded, even of cultures or religions outside Islam, do not at all seem to understand); only through the interaction of individual viewpoints in the greater Marketplace of Ideas can political (or, for that matter, any other field of) truth be best- and most clearly- gleaned!
So, again, Mr. Stremsky's point is taken... but I still think what he wrote about non-voters in general, saying that they "spit on all the graves of all the soldiers who have died fighting for our liberties and all the graves of the people who died on September 11, 2001", is more than a bit harsh!