I realize this is a month late, but I want to talk about the election. I haven't really discussed my political views on this blog, but most readers probably already know that I am a liberal Democrat. The outcome of the election was dismaying and I've been considering how to respond.
There are continuing accusations of failures of the electoral process on Election Day. I think it is important to follow them even though I don't have any expectation that they will change the outcome of the election. Unlike Florida in 2000, Ohio was not stolen this year. I think pursuing a recount in Ohio in the hope that the outcome will change is a lost cause.
However, I think disenfranchisement was a real problem, both in Ohio and around the nation. Stories of excessively long waits to vote and attempts to prevent people from voting, and doubts about whether votes were correctly recorded, are far too common. These are fixable problems, and it's important that they are pursued and corrected and that the voting process is watched so they do not continue to occur.
Voting is a right. Like all rights, the theoretical right isn't the important part. The important part is the practical exercise of the right. Ineligibility to vote, long waits to vote, and lack of guarantee that the vote was correctly recorded and counted all deny the right to vote. Loss of the right to vote destroys the legitimacy of the government, and maintaining faith in the legitimacy of the government is in everyone's interest, regardless of political interests.
But that's the future. Today, I'm more interested in the present. And the fact of the present is that George W. Bush has been elected President. From a liberal perspective, this is a crisis. The next four years will bring decreased protection for the environment, civil rights, reproductive rights, and workers' rights, just to name a small handful off the top of my head. In the near future, the Federal government will not serve the interests of individuals.
This is a frightening prospect, and one I feel compelled to respond to. If the government will not serve the roles which it should fulfill, organizations outside the government must do what they can to fill in. And we, as individuals, must ensure that they succeed.
I feel strongly that I should do something, anything, to try to combat the harm the government will do, through neglect or malice, during the next Presidential term. In some way, this feels like an opportunity to me, even if it is an opportunity I would rather have not had. After my unfocused efforts to choose a career direction for myself, this comes as a call to action. There is a need to step up where the government will not. My lack of other commitments makes me the right person to do it.
Unfortunately, I am facing an excess of choices. I wish it was an exaggeration to say that I oppose everything George W. Bush is doing as President, but it is at most a small one. Every day, it seems, there is something new to respond to. Many groups come to mind as worth working for, in any capacity. Anything I could do, with any of them, would be better than doing nothing. But that leaves so many choices that the apparent call to action is just as unfocused as I was before.
I discussed the way I feel about needing to choose something to work on and to work on it with my cousin over Thanksgiving. She pointed out that it's much more likely that I will sit around and moan about how I can't decide rather than actually taking action. I'd complain about it being unfair if it wasn't accurate. I was surprised by her ability to express the things I struggle with better than I can, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. The inability to choose a course of action and take it runs in the family, and she was speaking from experience.
So here I am then, with a desperate need to take action, but no conception of how to do that. I don't want to end up spending all my time talking about how I should be doing something while I sit around not actually doing anything. I fear that is the most likely outcome, but I intend to fight it. I'm just not sure how.