Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Infinitesimal Value of Voting

I have said (here) that voting for Hayhurst was not an acceptable option for me this time around. Indeed, at various places where I habitually do my online reading, people for whom I have some respect have written some well-reasoned pieces (like this one, or this or this or this) in which they argue that voting is a bad thing to do. I do not altogether agree with these people. Voting is unavailing? True. Voting is psychologically dangerous to the voter, through giving him or her a sense of having "bought into" the result? The potential is certainly there. Voting is a waste of time and effort? That's pretty much correct also, I think; it's certainly a waste of effort that is directed toward bettering one's town, one's county, one's state, or one's country. It only encourages our supervisors to imagine that they have some legitimacy? Too true, and more's the pity. But I've been making another sort of mistake about voting: I've taken it too seriously. I think it's more appropriate to view the act of voting as an entertainment choice. I sometimes pony up some dollars to see a movie, or attend a sporting event. In the narrowest of utilitarian terms, those are wastes of my time and resources; but they occasionally represent a reasonable value in terms of having some fun. I'm choosing to look at voting in the same way. Yes, there is danger that I'll erroneously conclude that, having voted, I'm somehow obliged to "support" the outcome. But I'm tough ... I'll reject that notion.

So, come November 7, I'm not going to vote for Hayhurst. But the voting machine will probably think I did. What I will be doing is taking a minor little swat at Souder. Indeed, I will vote against not only Souder, but against every single Republican that I can. (This, by the way, doesn't mean I'll have to even appear to vote for that prodigious donut-munching virago for sheriff; there's an independent whose name I've forgotten who is said to oppose the Drug War -- what a deal!) I have been assured that a vote for Hayhurst is a vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, leading me to reflect that a vote for Souder is probably a vote for Dennis Hastert, or a pachyderm equivalent, for Speaker. Which leads me to a lengthy piece in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi which chronicles the quality of Congressional leadership that Mr. Souder's party has been providing. It goes 8,000+ words, but I do recommend it to your reading. Meanwhile, here are a couple of excerpts:
Anyone who wants to get a feel for the kinds of beasts that have been roaming the grounds of the congressional zoo in the past six years need only look at the deranged, handwritten letter that convicted bribe-taker and GOP ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham recently sent from prison to Marcus Stern, the reporter who helped bust him. In it, Cunningham -- who was convicted last year of taking $2.4 million in cash, rugs, furniture and jewelry from a defense contractor called MZM -- bitches out Stern in the broken, half-literate penmanship of a six-year-old put in time-out.

"Each time you print it hurts my family And now I have lost them Along with Everything I have worked for during my 64 years of life," Cunningham wrote. "I am human not an Animal to keep whiping. I made some decissions Ill be sorry for the rest of my life."

The amazing thing about Cunningham's letter is not his utter lack of remorse, or his insistence on blaming defense contractor Mitchell Wade for ratting him out ("90% of what has happed is Wade," he writes), but his frantic, almost epic battle with the English language. It is clear that the same Congress that put a drooling child-chaser like Mark Foley in charge of a House caucus on child exploitation also named Cunningham, a man who can barely write his own name in the ground with a stick, to a similarly appropriate position. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Human Intelligence Analysis and Counterintelligence:

"As truth will come out and you will find out how liablest you have & will be. Not once did you list the positives. Education Man of the funding, jobs, Hiway funding, border security, Megans law my bill, Tuna Dolfin my bill...and every time you wanted an expert on the wars who did you call. No Marcus you write About how I died."

"How liablest you have & will be?" What the fuck does that even mean? This guy sat on the Appropriations Committee for years -- no wonder Congress couldn't pass any spending bills!

This is Congress in the Bush years, in a nutshell -- a guy who takes $2 million in bribes from a contractor, whooping it up in turtlenecks and pajama bottoms with young women on a contractor-provided yacht named after himself (the "Duke-Stir"), and not only is he shocked when he's caught, he's too dumb to even understand that he's been guilty of anything.
CAFTA actually went to vote early -- at 11:02 p.m. When the usual fifteen-minute voting period expired, the nays were up, 180 to 175. Republicans then held the vote open for another forty-seven minutes while GOP leaders cruised the aisles like the family elders from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," frantically chopping at the legs and arms of Republicans who opposed the measure. They even roused the president out of bed to help kick ass for the vote, passing a cell phone with Bush on the line around the House cloakroom like a bong. Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina was approached by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who told him, "Negotiations are open. Put on the table the things that your district and people need and we'll get them." After receiving assurances that the administration would help textile manufacturers in his home state by restricting the flow of cheap Chinese imports, Hayes switched his vote to yea. CAFTA ultimately passed by two votes at 12:03 a.m.
Yes, that's the same Dennis Hastert who might be replaced by Nancy Pelosi if Souder's party is deprived of power. Yes, that's the replacement that's supposed to have me wetting my pants with fear. Hmmmm.

I am mindful of the danger of saying that it can't get any worse. I said that during the Clinton regime, and just look what happened. But now, I'll say: it either can't get any worse than this -- or it can, and that will bring on the Revo. In any case, I'm really not voting for Hayhurst. I'm just going to use him to entertain myself, and have a little gnat-bite at the elephant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a great way of looking at it, bartleby.

I'll have to read that RS article when I have some time.