Andrew Sullivan Exemplifies the Two-Party Trap

Andrew Sullivan comments on Romney’s unprecedented swing after the first presidential election. Sullivan spends the first several paragraphs enviously describing just how much of a Big Deal this is for Romney: Before the debate, Obama had a 51 – 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 – 45 lead but even more shocking to Sullivan is that Obama lost 18 points among women voters overnight.

Yet, what Sullivan studiously avoids saying is that Romney won the debate. The debate led to a massive turnaround for Romney that Sullivan himself labels “unprecedented” but Romney did not win the debate. That would imply legitimacy to Romney’s lead and suggest that he may actually be the better candidate – at least in the eyes of everyone who watched the debate.

Instead of deriving a conclusion based on the facts, Sullivan resorts to an emotional reaction, stating: “Lies work when they are unrebutted live on stage.” Romney cheated and Obama is the victim. Nevermind that Sullivan can never tell us what, exactly, it is that Romney lied about. Even after Sullivan mourns at length over Obama’s arrogance and incompetence he still manages to overcome the cognitive dissonance to end with a rally cry to overcome the “lies and propaganda”, to fight the “extremism” of Romney, and to support Obama’s “reality-based government.” In one paragraph Obama is an arrogant, incompetent president who will never give his supporters the kind of leadership that they deserve but in the next he is our only savior, our only hope, our shining light.

And that just about perfectly sums up the two-party trap. Your candidate simply is not fit to lead anyone, much less a nation, but it does not matter because the other candidate is worse (hint: the other candidate is always worse). So you’d better knuckle under in the one case of national crisis because if you don’t vote for “your” candidate, if you vote third-party or not at all, you’re actually voting for the other guy – you monster. The trap, of course, is that the temporary crisis is never temporary and as we are suckered into voting the lesser evil into office every election cycle our “lesser evils” just keep getting worse and worse.

The polarizing divide and conquer tactics used today, however, are not new. In the 1800 election Jefferson was accused of being the anti-christ and his opponents claimed that if he were elected our children would be coerced into singing heretical hymns out of fear, everyone’s Bible’s would be burned and America’s wives and daughters would be made the victims of legal prostitution. Citizens buried their Bibles or hid them in wells out of fear that Jefferson would send in troops to confiscate them. That never happened. Today, we must vote Romney because “the Catholic Faith hangs in the balance” as one friend of mine put it.

Andrew Sullivan is probably right though: Romney probably did lie. He has a long history of lying and duplicity. Of course, so does Obama who broke almost every campaign promise that he made four years ago. One of his greatest draws four years ago was his proposed foreign policy: to close Guantanamo Bay, end our wars abroad and bring our troops home. In fact, he did the opposite, doubling down on Bush’s failed policies. We’ve even gone from unconstitutional wiretappings under Bush to unconstitutional assassinations under Obama. So, as far as I’m concerned, whether or not Romney lied in the debates is of little consequence. First, because both Romney and Obama are established liars anyway and, second, Obama did nothing to refute the supposed lies as Sullivan himself admits.

I think that the reason that Sullivan has such a hard time coming to grips with Romney’s comeback is that he has swallowed the media narrative that paints the left and right parties as diametrically opposed forces with one as savior and the other as brainless idiots who will doom us all. In fact,once you depart from the rhetoric, Obama and Romney are nearly identical.

Sullivan laments that if Romney is elected then “We’re back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme.” But isn’t that exactly what Obama has done as I mentioned above? It is this blind party loyalty that allows Sullivan to call Obama arrogant, incompetent and self-destructive in one sentence and then praise him as America’s only hope against (apparently supremely evil) Romney the next.

Here’s a news flash: both candidates are liars and opportunists who agree more than they disagree and, because they’re supposed to serve us, we should always be very critical of them, demand more from both candidates and refrain from supporting either until they shape up, if ever. To support terrible candidates simply because you are afraid of how much worse the other one might be serves only to further the corruption of our political system. We’re simply digging a bigger hole for ourselves.

Oh, also, lets call a spade a spade. I may not like Romney but he hands-down won the debate. Any disinterested observer can see that clear as day.


Does Your Vote Really Matter? What You Can Do to Make a Difference.

According to a Mises Daily article entitled Why Vote? your vote does not matter. The chance of a single vote affecting the outcome of the election would be about one millionth of one percent. In fact, if the entire state of Michigan had voted for John McCain, Barrack Obama would still have won the 2008 election. If the votes of an entire state do not matter how much less so does your individual vote? The Ludwig von Mises Institute argues that, in terms of affecting the outcome of an election, it does not.

And they are right.

Voting is only the first step in exercising your voice.

What your vote does affect, however, is you. This is because voting is a moral act. What matters is not so much whether or not we vote but how we vote. Our vote should always be ordered towards the common good: to promote what is good as much as possible and to minimize evil to the greatest extent. Unfortunately, the contemporary American two-party system, through its strict limitation of the voter’s options to two very similar and (in my opinion) equally bad choices, makes this very difficult. However, since we’ve already established that your vote is statistically insignificant, we should not limit ourselves only to the two traditional, “electable” candidates. Certainly we can vote for what we believe to be the “lesser of two evils” if we have an appropriate proportional reason for doing so but the best candidate may be third-party or even independent. In fact, if every candidate on the ballot is unsatisfactory to you then you can always write someone in. To do so might not “matter” as far as the numbers are concerned but the act does stand for something: no matter how marginalized your principles are you stood up for them anyway and that is a noble endeavor that transcends the nihilistic utilitarianism of the political machine. Also, if you find every candidate unsatisfactory then you could simply just not vote: but only because there are other ways, better ways, to fulfill our duty as citizens to promote the common good.

If you are more interested in making an impact beyond the fate of your own soul, one that impacts the society to which you belong, there are other ways, political and non-political, of getting involved. From participating at the grassroots level, in support of solid local candidates or organizations, to frequently writing congressmen, actively involving yourself in the social arena does far more good than your statistically insignificant vote ever could. College campuses should really ditch the “you should vote” campaigns  and replace them with a “write your congressmen” campaign. Their votes actually are statistically significant and they represent you regardless of whether or not you voted for them: so demand that they represent you accurately and hold them accountable for their actions.

What happens when voting is all we do.

Furthermore, as people become less satisfied with their options, more and more people use their vote to vote against a candidate and not for someone. Overwhelmingly, people today use their vote to support the lesser of two evils in order to block the greater evil, but the lesser evil, if elected, then becomes the new standard and the quality of our politicians just continues to degrade from there. What a poverty that we now define every act of voting entirely in terms of evil. In contrast, when you write your congressmen you are not standing against a candidate but for a principle, and that is a breath of fresh air. In fact, you can write them on any issue, at any time, as much as you want. You pick and choose precisely what stances you want to support and you are not forced into choosing a package deal as you are with your vote. Certainly, a politician can ignore your letter but then, when your vote has only a one millionth of one percent chance of making a difference that hardly seems worse.

But while political activism is even more important than voting, what you do in your non-political life is perhaps most vital of all. We must forget everything progressivism and relativism have taught us: how we live our personal lives matter. The way we present ourselves to the world makes an impact and what we do with our time, talents and resources has a far greater effect on our communities than our vote ever could. It thus becomes vitally important how we live, not just for ourselves but because our actions influence others. We must always strive in all that we do to promote what is good and reduce what is evil: to live our lives in accordance with the natural and eternal laws, to love good and hate evil, and to obey and respect just human law. To have a free and virtuous society we must first be virtuous ourselves. We must be vigilant and inform ourselves daily and share our knowledge with others.

Most importantly, we must be charitable. We must not be like Satan and declare “I will not serve!” no matter how loudly our hedonistic culture shouts “me, me, me!” Instead, we must exhibit charity starting with the little things like smiling when we don’t feel like it or withholding a biting remark, and then work towards the greater things: giving back to our communities; serving the weak, the tired, the poor; helping those who cannot help themselves. We must put others before ourselves and no where is this more important than in the family. Children really are the future and they must be raised in love and taught the moral code so that they may surpass us in virtue.

The reality is that we vote every day and the vote at the ballot box, of little importance except to the voter, is perhaps the most overrated method of doing so. To do nothing beyond voting is to render our liberty insecure and invite slavery. To effect positive change requires political and non-political activism. Such methods require far more of us but the payoff will be much higher, for our society but also for ourselves. After all, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

America Divided: Dems Hate Taxes, Love Puppies; GOP Loves Puppies, Hates Taxes

except for Ron Paul, he doesn't sugarcoat his position on puppies (click pic and skip to 9:09)

According to Gerald Celente, the founder of the Trends Research Institute and publisher of the Trends Journal, 2012 will not be a battle of Left versus Right but a battle of the will of the people versus the will of our government. Criticizing the state of our two-party system he states:

The presidential race in the US won’t bring much change because again it is going to be another pick of a “lesser of two evils”. Even Barack Obama might win a second term despite all the broken promises he gave the American nation that once fully supported him.

You needn’t look any further than the recently installed NDAA to find evidence of our bipartisan disaster. Spearheaded by Republicans in Congress, its passing only made possible by strong Democrat participation and signed into law by Barack Obama the NDAA represents a diabolical tool allowing circumvention of our constitution and expansion of executive power. Celente made the following comments regarding the bill:

Now that President Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act, those Americans who speak out against the elected officials might get prison time. There is no need to be a terrorist suspect any more, being belligerent – as written in the Act – is more than enough to be taken away.

“You have no judge, you have no jury, you have no trial, you don’t have charges filed against you, the military can come in and take someone “belligerent” away to lock up in detention,” Celente slams.

“No lawyer, no habeas corpus – it is the ‘bill of no rights’ signed by President Obama,” the forecaster boils, explaining that now the military is allowed to take somebody they “like the Gestapo” choose to be an anti-American or working with terrorists.

Now, one could certainly argue that the NDAA signifies one isolated incident and, as bad as it might be, one solitary bill signed into law doesn’t reflect on our entire political system. Well, if only that were the case. Unfortunately, however, the NDAA is a small part in a much grander trend saturating American politics. From repeated attempts to control the internet, the recent HHS mandate infringing upon religious freedom, to the enemy expatriation act, police brutality, and local police War Rooms, all just to name a few recent developments, the dynamo of opposing powers is rapidly shifting to the American people versus their very own government.

Promoting a politically active citizenry who will stand up for life, liberty and the pursuit of property for everyone is more important now than ever before – and it starts with each one of us individually. Get out, vote, be heard and be not afraid.