Our election season is wrapping up and for most of us it can’t conclude fast enough. Enough already, with the constant barrage of outrageous accusations and unsubstantiated claims! Enough of all the pitches, pleas, petitions, polls, and most of all – the giant postcards!
We’ve all received dozens of giant-sized postcards in the mail, each competing to out-vilify opponents. A full-page poster-paper mailer must cost well over 50 cents, perhaps even a dollar – and are we really taking any time to read them? If we are, it’s time for us to get new hobbies or interests in life…
I’m told, the way it works is the “hit count” of how many times you see any given politician’s name, and how the name is framed when you see it. Dark, threatening-looking ads with an opponent’s name are supposed to register fear someplace in a deep corner of your brain, only to pop out when it’s time to press the ballot button or punch the ballot card. And fear motivates more directly than appeals to our better selves. Sadly, this fear bait must work or the billions for these things wouldn’t be spent.
So, most of these pesky cards and ads are, of course, negative, without any verifiable or valuable content. Still, there’s a pretty good standard to judge anything on our ballots: Is any given ballot measure or politician going to increase liberty and justice for all – or is it, or he, or she – going to use elected powers to limit it.
There’s big international news that should be top of mind as we’re into the ballot booth. In Iran, we’re witnessing a powerful women’s protest movement. After decades of ill treatment and ever-eroding women’s rights – many have had enough of the repression. Young girls are marching in the streets at huge personal risk. Iran hasn’t seen anything like this for years – and this time it’s women who have had enough bullying and being told how to live.
Meanwhile, nine months at war, Ukraine battles on heroically. Despite all the terrorist tactics Vladimir Putin employs, still the Ukrainian people suffer through while their military pushes through. Giant Russia is being punished by Ukraine, as kilometer after kilometer is recovered from a dictator’s grasp.
And to what end are these heroics? Freedom. Freedom from dictatorship. Freedom from authoritarianism. Freedom to self-direct. Individual freedoms, rights, and decency, vs. a collective mindset with millions of lives controlled and constrained by a few corrupt elites.
These current events should be sobering stories as we punch or press our ballot choices. Both Iran and Ukraine are suffering from corrupted politicians who tear away their liberty and freedom. And just because you take your liberty for granted doesn’t mean similar affronts couldn’t happen here. Indeed, they almost did in 2020 and the threat continues.
Here, we’re fighting elections with giant, nasty postcards. There, they’re fighting with their lives for their very freedom…
Nationally, some politicians would limit the public’s right to vote. Some would make it harder, trickier and more limited to folks of color. Some would take away women’s health rights. Some believe each of us are on our own and public education is just more “socialism.” We’ve got folks who still believe our 2020 election was somehow “rigged” – even though they somehow got elected with ballots that were sufficiently secure for their own vote success! And some believe QAnon is gospel fact… literally.
Is it healthy to a democracy to deal in fabrications and deceit? How can we grow, thrive and compete if we’re married to strange beliefs and outright lies? While it falls within our freedoms to advocate conspiracies, does it further our best interests?
There is thus a standard by which to judge any politician, and it applies to aspiring leaders from all parties: Will they stand by the Constitution, and will their actions increase our liberty and justice – for all? What is their character and what are their past actions? Are they logical and reality-based? Will they help us progress in a very competitive world? And locally, will they improve our community or rather are they seeking to press their individual beliefs on others? Above all: Will they honor the outcome of our democratic process, win, or lose, for their team or not?
As to ballot initiatives, it’s best to ask, “Who put this on the ballot and why?”
“What are the motivations behind these new proposed regulations and taxes?”
Looking behind the initiatives often yields the answer as to vote yes or no. So many are funded by special interests looking for special profits or benefits.
So – if the initiative doesn’t further liberty and justice for all – but just for some – perhaps a no vote is the best vote.
As this election season wraps up, let’s remember the huge sacrifices we see in distressed regions of the world as repressed peoples fight to the death to regain freedoms once enjoyed. Let’s honor and enshrine our own liberties and freedoms with our votes — for all Americans, regardless of age, gender, race, or economic station.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.