Sunday Sermon: Tuesday Coming Up

I’m going to have to jump through a few hoops to vote, because I have an unexpected trip to Boston the same day, so I need to fit getting into the polling-spot before I make a 3+hr high-speed run to the airport.

And I don’t have the racist arm of the state trying to make it harder for me to vote. They want me to vote, because I’m the demographic that they expect will vote the way they want me to. And what fills me with hatred is that I’m going to – I’m going to play their game because they’ve managed to figure out a way to make the game so horrible that not playing is no longer an option. The usual “lesser of two evils” maneuver’s not good enough: you’ve got to try, because otherwise they’re going to say you implicitly support a bunch of racist, fascist, ultra-nationalist, religious demagogues.

To figure this stuff out, you don’t need to spend a lot of time reading philosophy or history. It seems to me that, if you do, you’ll just realize more fully how horrible it all is – if you understand how to find the contradictions in someone’s expressed viewpoint, it’s impossible not to see that we are confronted by a lot of poor thinkers who have been ideologized into a corner with inconsistent and obvious lies. It doesn’t require an analytical genius to realize that those things are not really effective manipulation: they are telling certain people that what they already believe is true, is OK, and that it’s alright to openly say it.

The strategy is polarization, and it serves both “sides” by squeezing moderates out of the discussion, or by turning the gray area moderates like to live in into a hard line: for or against. I’m hardly a moderate, but I resent this strategy because it places that hard line where it’s politically practical not where it ought to be. That’s how the two-party duopoly system makes sure that American politics are radically militarist and nationalist compared to the dwindling highlights of world civilization; they can say “hey, we’re really liberal compared to Saudi Arabia.” So we find ourselves forcibly enlisted in this Great War to End All Wars and are told that the best thing we can do is give generously to the Democratic Party – a party which will repay our alms by promoting its own internal gerontocrats, predicated on the idea that they’re not quite as bad as the other guys; not bad enough to win.

When I get the phone calls from Democratic Party fund-raisers, I tell them “you guys don’t get my money until you run a slate of radical socialist candidates none of whom are over 50.” In the meantime, I have to go vote against Trump, who represents the resurgent American Southern ID, and worry that the Democrats won’t see the votes they extorted from us a a popular mandate.

I don’t believe that the political principles the United States was allegedly built on are anything like its true principles. Its true principles are darker, more racist, more totalitarian, more imperialist – in that sense I think the Trumpists are more honest than the Democrats who are trying to portray themselves as a loyal (albeit opportunistic) opposition. Both of the two parties have been involved in and designed voter-suppression schemes and both of them (depending on which one is losing in the Electoral College) say they want to disband the electoral college and have actual, kind of, Democracy. They’ll do that as soon as they figure out how to make sure only the right people win.

Rigged, The Film is a 2016 documentary about voter suppression. [rigged] It’s pretty good, but I think it’s missing the point, which is that the entire system is completely corrupt. I feel like someone has handed me a sandwich and the meat is rotting – literally, crawling with maggots and mold – and someone is pointing out “that spot in the corner looks OK.” That’s bad enough, but then they say, “if you don’t eat that bit, you’re a bad person.”

Both parties have built a carceral state in which they have unconstitutionally disenfranchised over 1.6 million citizens by taking away their voting rights for crimes. I spent a while trying to research to see how many ex-felon businessmen and politicians have been able to appeal to get their voting rights restored, but they don’t seem to be successfully convicted of felonies very often. That’s a bigger coincidence, given the criminality in the political and executive classes, than the racial divide that coincidentally also exists in the vote suppression of convicts. Which leads me to ask, “what is the justification for these laws?” Is the argument that we, as a society, can no longer trust a drug dealer to make good choices for a political candidate? Come on! This is a farce except it’s not funny. The Intercept has a pretty good story about how 1.6 million voters are being kept away from politics. [thei]

Stefanie Anglin is a grandmother, business owner, and convicted felon, though when she’s out on the streets of Orlando, Florida, knocking on prospective voters’ doors, she introduces herself by the latter.

Then, she usually tells people that she can’t vote – along with 1.68 million other Florida residents who have felony convictions, 10 percent of the state’s adult population, and 1 in 5 African-Americans. Across the country, over 6 million people can’t vote because of felony convictions. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote; most restore voting rights at some point between release and the end of probation; only Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky disenfranchise for life all felons who have completed their sentences.

Felon disenfranchisement has a long history in the United States. Because the right to vote is not enshrined in the Constitution – and in fact, the 14th Amendment allows for it to be “abridged” in certain cases – felon disenfranchisement has remained one of the most effective ways to keep people, particularly African-Americans, from voting, and it was widespread across the country between Reconstruction and the civil rights era.

Like the Electoral College, this was a long-term strategy; it’s not something that the Republicans just cooked up one afternoon.

Let me end this with a sincere wish, and that is that 2nd Amendment literalists would all wake up one morning with the numbers changed in their heads and hearts. Instead of parsing lubriciously over the words of the 2nd Amendment, they would wake up venerating and worshipping these words:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That, by the way, is how you can tell that they don’t actually give a rat’s ass about The Constitution – they just care that one little piece of it says something that they happen to want. The other stuff – the stuff they should want? Ah, fuck that. If the American People spent a fraction of the time and energy on voting rights that they spend on gun rights, this might actually bear some resemblance to a democracy.

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“none of whom are over 50” – did I actually say that out loud? Yes. Here’s why: when you select politicians for longevity, you’re going to get the sneakiest, most successful at clinging to power. Those are not necessarily the politicians you want. We are entering a time in which we will need radical, energetic, idealists. Not accommodating proponents of political expediency who keep voting for massive military budgets while trying to “energize the base” with their pretend death-cries. None of them will suffer what their voters have in store for them.


  1. says

    otherwise they’re going to say you implicitly support a bunch of racist, fascist, ultra-nationalist, religious demagogues

    I so hate this one. I so hate it.

    Generally speaking, in elections all political candidates suck. If I pick one to vote for, then I support every single bad policy this party brings forward. If I don’t vote at all, then I support every single bad policy brought forward by the party who got elected by other citizens.

    In elections I have no real choice; whatever “choice” I might have is one between Scylla and Charybdis. Yet somehow, with the help of some rhetoric, politicians can turn the tables and announce that, regardless of what I did, the bad outcome was somehow my fault, and I have supported all the bad actions they did.

    Rigged, The Film is a 2016 documentary about voter suppression. [rigged] It’s pretty good

    I watched the first 20 or so minutes of the film until I got utterly bored of it. It’s just not made in a format that my brain could accept. An interview with a sad looking disenfranchised citizen talking about how everybody in their family always voted and now they cannot do so. A few second clip with Obama making meaningless noise and saying nothing. A pastor making noise and saying nothing. Even more interviews with disenfranchised citizens talking about how they always perceived voting as important. And so ad nauseam. I understand that those people who made this documentary wanted all these interviews to be heart-wrenching and cause an emotional response from the viewers, but I cannot feel anything anyway. I’d much rather watch a video of somebody just reading a list of facts in the most boring and monotonous voice imaginable. In this documentary, the emotional appeal vs. facts ratio was such that I just couldn’t take it.

    If the American People spent a fraction of the time and energy on voting rights that they spend on gun rights, this might actually bear some resemblance to a democracy.

    Of course, a country with fair elections is significantly better than a country with rigged elections. I’m not denying that. But fixing America’s broken election system would hardly help much. Both parties support a large military budget and wars. Neither party supports free healthcare and university education. Neither party gives a fuck about providing welfare for the poor. Both parties are in favor of tax loopholes for the richest 1%. Neither party seems willing to significantly and quickly reduce CO2 emissions. Even if Democrats got more seats in various offices, it wouldn’t help much.

    Even a democracy with fair elections still sucks. An aspiring politician cannot get elected without an expensive advertisement campaign. This means they need donations. This means they must cater to oligarchs and make the laws they want. The only good thing about democracies is that politicians get replaced every four years. During a period of four years a politician can steal significantly less state money compared to a king who rules for decades (never mind royal dynasties who rule for centuries—I seriously don’t get why various European countries still tolerate and financially support their royal families).

  2. cartomancer says

    There was one thing that got the US electing politicians who supported social welfare policies and taxing the obscenely rich to fund them – the Great Depression and a credible threat from organized, desperate poor people contemplating a Russian-style revolution.

    The good news is that we’re very likely to have another severe global economic crisis within a few years, so there might be a chance for history to repeat itself!

  3. Raucous Indignation says



    (sorry about the shouting)