Things Could Get Worse

Tomorrow those of us who live in the United States will vote and if you are a registered voter in that election, I address this post to you. Since I am a registered voter in this election, I also address this post to me. Depending on the issue and the time of day, my own political commitments fall within the space between Barack Obama on the right and Dennis Kucinich on the left. In other words, I’m a centralist Happy Face. That leaves a lot of space to wonder around in and many things to be unhappy about.
You and I may not be very happy with our President. We may be mad at the current Congress. We may think that several members of the Senate or House of Representatives are nuts. This general applies to someone else’s Representative. Not liking someone else’s Senator or Representative is a bit of a national pastime. Depending on the issue, we may think our government did way too little or way too much. We may even be correct and we may want to take it out on whoever is handy by voting the bums out or by just not voting.
If you are going through that kind of thought process, take a deep breath. Now is the time to be pragmatic and not the time to express righteous rage or even well informed disagreement. Now is the time to vote locally but think nationally and globally.
The question I am asking myself is this. If I don’t vote or if I vote for a largely unvetted candidate and large numbers of people do the same, will things move away from my favored positions? As I look at my ballot and see candidates who are alternatives to old time “liberal” politicians there is hardly a single case where the alternative has not publically indicated that he or she would move our body politic to the right of the space between Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich.
But I think the possibilities are worse than that. While there is much that I admire about Obama’s pragmatic approach to policy, it has its downside. Should Congress move to the right and it no doubt will, any politically pragmatic President will also move to the right and in exactly the worst way. He will try to buy off opposition to his most pressing goals by totally neglecting those lower on his list. He will do this by further weakening his pressing goals and turning his head when the opposition seeks to go in some unfavored direction with his lower priorities. If your or my highest priority is currently one of the President’s low priorities, we can be sure that it won’t go up on his list in the face of a strengthened opposition. Instead of the perfect being the enemy of the good, the imperfect will become the ally of the bad.
I’m not just talking about the risk of electing unrepentant ideological dogmatists. There are more than a few running for office around the county. Some will be elected. While there are a couple of borderline folks on my ballot, there aren’t any truly dyed in the wool ideological dogmatists. Even those candidates on my ballot with whom I strongly disagree have shown at least a modicum of practicality and good will laying below their objectionable ideological positions. But, since a few unrepentant ideological dogmatists will be elected, we need to make sure that they are as isolated as possible from the political process. We can only do that if we are able maintain a considerable political gap between the ideological dogmatists and the more reasonable. Filling that gap with otherwise sane folks who share a significant collection of bad ideas with the ideological dogmatists is only a good thing for the ideological dogmatists.
I have drafts of two strongly worded emails on issues that are important to me. One is to the President and one is to one of my Senators, the one that’s up for reelection. I will send them on Wednesday. Tomorrow, I will vote for that Senator and for several other people that I’m none too happy with.