Voting accomplished, conscience muddy

Well, I voted. I braved the rain, the cold slush, and all of everything else today to cast my vote for the person who I feel is less likely to destroy our country in the future. Neither Martha Coakley nor Scott Brown appealed to me as an ideal candidate for a state senator. Joe Kennedy just was never an option for me.

So given the field, Coakley was it. If anything, I hope that replacing a democrat with a democrat does less damage than the other way around, because I’m sure it won’t do as much good as I want it to.

All three of the candidates claimed to be the answer to the “status quo”. And they are, depending on what you define as “status quo”. My definition is such that nothing short of a complete changing of the guard on capital hill can provide the answer. The only way to get our country back on track is to remove every politician on the take from office and then remove all lobbyists. The only way is to change the platforms of both major parties. To allow third parties a fair chance at winning. To get the citizenry of this country to participate in the process and reduce the power of factions.

Will either Brown or Coakley help us accomplish any of that? Probably not. I figured, though, that a former attorney general is far less bribeable than a man who posed for Playgirl, so she was the safer bet for me.

A babbling tower …

Branches of languages from the Indo-European Tree
Branches of languages from the Indo-European Tree

Just a post of interest. I like to look at this drawing to see how closely related all of us in the Northern Hemisphere really are. The development of languages, of course, happens right alongside the development of culture which lead to prejudices and all of that other wonderful stuff. When looking at all of these languages and cultures on one page, though, I’m inspired to think that perhaps we really can just get along.

When I was a kid, the only story in the Bible that ever really left an impact on me was the Tower of Babel. I never took it literally, of course, but as a reverse allegory. The story tells us that when we all speak a different language, or desire different goals, or fight against each other, we are doomed to simply stay on earth and not aspire for a higher state of being or discovery. If, however, we can come together then we may just be able to do something remarkable.

I still think there’s a chance for all of us to do something remarkable together. A man can dream, anyhow.

Factionalization is killing our country

The United States Congress has betrayed its purpose: the representation of the ideals of its constituents is no longer a primary motive. Rather, the concerns of corporate entities, personal gain, and political favor have corrupted the work our government does and the general population is left to ponder the outcome and live in the aftermath.

This has not happened just this year, nor in the last decade, nor indeed over the last 50 years. It has been a slow and inevitable process brought on by the one weakness in the armor of the United States Constitution: it’s ability to become beholden to factional influence. It is a process described in the Federalist Papers, as well as in George Washington’s farewell address to congress. It is the reason why Washington was against the idea of political parties, and the primary reason why Thomas Jefferson believed that every citizen should be educated: to protect the country from factionization. Their warnings have not been heeded, and our country is failing. It is not the fault of our elected officials, however.

We, the people, have allowed the factions to elect those unscrupulous men and women who pervert their calling in the halls of congress. We have allowed it to happen by not participating in our own government. Congressional elections since the 1960’s have had participation in the 20 – 30 percent range. An average turnout of around 35% has been seen during those elections over the last 40 or so years. After accounting for the non-voting population, that is approximately 17% of our citizenry who are determining who remains a representative.

By deciding to not participate in congressional elections, we have handed our country to the entities that most desired it. Those entities and their bank accounts are now controlling how laws are written and which ones pass.

The cynical amongst you will come forth with some kind of “well, it would have happened anyway” or “my vote doesn’t count” quote. To you I say shut up. The reason your vote is slowly counting less and the reason this is happening is because of that very thought process. Our government only works when everybody participates in its operation. It’s not just a right, but a civic duty to follow, analyze, decide, and act on the decisions your representatives make — in your towns, states, and otherwise.

Whether you voted or not, the people from your district will work to determine your quality of life.

This is not a country for cynical people, unfortunately — a fact I have had to come to terms with myself. Cynics will look at a system and see how it has failed them, see the utter futility of trying to correct what seems so obviously wrong. Our country is designed, however, to be fixable. To provide us the view into what is wrong and the means by which we can repair it. All we need do is act.

The massive turn-out in the 2008 elections and its historic result — while not my personal choice — is an example of the voters trying to fix a system. That election was easy, though.  Can you do it in 2010 when it matters more, but will be far less glamorous? Will you turn out and discard those representatives who have failed you, your families, your neighbors and your towns without the television telling you to do so? Will you become the moral compass for those who have none even if your favorite news station disagrees with your ultimate decision?

We are not lost yet. The factions are winning, yes, but they are no longer a concern when we override them with sheer participation.  We can still reclaim the US Congress and give it back to those who would do a better job of representing the people of this country over corporations. It is, after all, our congress to control. The people who sit in those aisles are merely stewards of our rights. And as stewards, they are beholden to our disgust, our wrath, our choices.

Education: Entry One

The system by which we “educate” our citizenry in this country must be eradicated. I say this not because the system is a failure. On the contrary, our public education system does exactly what it was meant to do: prepare people for an automaton-like life in a world of capitalistic industry.

Current cycle of education:

  1. Critical thinking citizens  are not easily employable in typical industrio-economy jobs: “why” and “how” do not fit into the workaday world
  2. Owners within the industrio-economy cry out that education is failing since students are not “employable”
  3. Government and “concerned” members of the business community develop national “standards” that ensure a student’s “success”, ie employability
  4. Students leave school with the ability to take tests, cram top-level knowledge into their heads, and follow the rules laid out by authorities but with very little ability to truly understand the “why” and “how” of what they do
  5. The industrio-economy is sustained with easily employable citizens

No matter how much money, time, thought, or positive energy we dump into it, what it will produce is a mass of children who are good at one thing: taking orders from their employer/masters. This is, of course, exactly what it supposed to happen.

The fix? Break out of this mode of thinking. Educate in order that critical thinking skills are preserved; in order that each student has a thorough understanding of civics, economics, art, literature; ensure that educational facilities are not tied down to business interests by refusing to accept finances from corporate interests.