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Posts filed under Election 2004

Oh well / Oh hell

I suppose that I’d feel worse about all this except that I never pinned too much hope on electoral politics–let alone lame-o weak-kneed liberals in the first place. It sucks, but we’ll have to find some way to muddle through–even, perhaps, to resist–and we’d have to do that no matter came out on the top of the heap.

By the way, Greg Palast thinks that Ohio and New Mexico were stolen–based on the exit polls and on worries about ballot spoilage. (He predicted that this would be a problem beforehand, and today he argued on Air America that he was right–based on the disparity between exit polls in Ohio and New Mexico.) If this is true, then I hope people will make something of it–and by people I mean you, because Droopy and Smiley Face have already made it painfully obvious they aren’t going to make a fuss. But as for myself, I’m thinking about voter initiatives and ways forward that don’t involve spending my time on these jerks. (The other, more important, parts of the way forward are education and direct action, but since many of us are going to be thinking about defensive voting in various ways, I do think it’s helpful and important to think about smarter ways of going about that.)

In the meantime, I hope that Democrats are thinking long and hard about the arguments that led them to pick electable John Kerry over Howard Dean–and giving themselves a good, hard kick in the ass over it.

Other Amusements

You really ought to be getting out and voting today. It’s not a civic duty, but it is a prudent contribution towards your own self-defense and it’s not like it takes that long, anyway.

But if you already have, feel free to engage in some far deeper and more meaningful activities. For example, if you have Flash and a mouse, you can slap the tar out of virtual avatars of George Bush and John Kerry.

Ah, political engagement.

The Day After Tomorrow

First of all, John Kerry is a douchebag, but I’m voting for him anyway.

Yes, I know he’s a statist, and a lame-o weak-kneed liberal to boot. Yes, I know that he voted for the authorization of force against Iraq, and that he hasn’t announced any plans to do what any rational and sane person should realize it’s time to do–withdraw immediately and completely. Yes, I know that the process I’m going to be participating in tomorrow has no legitimate authority whatsoever no matter who I vote for–and that strategically, replacing one creepy-looking imperial Executive with another slightly less mad one is no means to long-term change. That sucks, but it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, because voting is a legitimate form of self-defense and I live in a swing state where a handful of votes may determine whether 17 electoral votes go towards throwing George W. Bush out of the White House or propping up four more years of the same.

Yes, most of the reasons I have for voting for Kerry are purely negative ones. He’s bad on the war, sure–but not nearly as bad as its big fat liar of an architect. Yeah, he’s an unreconstructed statist with a bad record on civil liberties–but not nearly as bad as George W. Bush, who has presided over the largest increase in State bureaucracy and spending since the Great Society, and who believes himself accountable to none save God alone. Sure, his campaign has treated feminists like crap, but, Jesus, it’s not like a second Bush administration is going to bode well for the success of feminist activism. And all of this is important. Given that Kerry is not even worse than Bush (and he’s not), one of the single most important reasons to take the time to get out and vote for Kerry tomorrow (if you’re in a swing state, as I am) is that after everything he’s done, George W. Bush must be thrown out of office. If he’s not punished after all of this, then that means one more blow to the fragile bulwarks remaining for justice and freedom in this country. We have precious few opportunities to pull back the reins on galloping Caesarism, and tomorrow is one of them; there’s no excuse, if you have the chance, not to pull as hard as you can.

And there are a couple of positive reasons to vote for Kerry. First, nearly all of his faults are faults that Bush shares or exceeds. But he is good on abortion; he won’t continue the present gang’s war for control over women’s bodies. Don’t think abortion’s very important? Well, you should; if you don’t think that the right of women–also known as “the majority of the population”–to control their own internal organs, or the use of systematic State violence against women to tread on that right, is a really big deal, well, you had better check your premises. And secondly, Kerry is bad on almost everything else–but a possibility for making things better exists under a Kerry administration that will continue to be vanishingly small in an entrenched, contemptuously secretive, smugly self-satisfied second Bush adminisration.

All that said, we need to remember, as it comes down to the wire, that tomorrow is not the Battle of Armageddon. The world will go on whoever wins, and we will need to figure out what we are going to do–because we are going to face some pretty hefty challenges whether Kerry or Bush is partying at the end of the night (or whether both of them are biting their nails waiting on further legal developments).

So I know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow–voting and then volunteering to go door to door for a few hours before I turn in. And I figure you know what you are going to be doing, too. But here’s the question: what are we going to be doing the day after tomorrow? Come November 3, what can we do that will move things forward whether it’s Bush or Kerry we’re going to have to be dealing with?

For my part, I don’t know entirely, and I’m interested in hearing what y’all think. (Comment away!) But I do know one thing for sure.

I sure am tired of following these assholes.

I’m tired of the two-party duopoly, and I’m tired of incumbents. pinning my hopes on blockheads like Kerry and I’m tired of listening to know-it-all professional blowhards speculate about the color of Kerry’s socks and its impact on undecided Soccer Moms. I know that we are going to need to keep organizing and take the fight to them no matter who wins, but I can’t take federal representative politics much longer and I can’t say that the prospects for meaningful, long-term change through picking between these guys look tremendously bright.

Yeah, Deaniac grassroots politics would help. Sure, we could use instant runoff voting and term limits and lowered ballot access requirements. Fine, I’ll put in my two cents’ worth in favor of building independent parties. I don’t dispute that that would help things a bit. But the more that I think about it the more I think that we (address this to my Libertarian comrades or my Leftist comrades or my Anarchist comrades, whichever you prefer) ought to re-think how we are trying to get things done when we’re working undercover in The System. Because I, for one, am about at the end of my rope.

I’m sure that Kennedy and the rest of the No Treason! crew will take this as as good an opportunity as any to argue that building movements is a dead-end game. I don’t buy that, yet, for a lot of reasons–I suspect that a rigid distinction between volunteer politics and businesses involves some confusions about the nature of the market in a free society, and I have a lot more faith in ordinary people and the historical record of people’s movements. For the time being, at least, I’m more than willing to sign on for political organizing, activism, and evangelism–even working in the belly of the beast, if need be, to help give people some space to breathe and a chance to defend themselves. But not the way we’ve been doing it.

When I go to the polls tomorrow, I won’t just have the chance to pick some idiot or another for federal races. I’ll also have the chance to vote directly on whether or not a number of proposals will be made law. I can do this because Michigan has voter initiatives; and when I vote on an initiative I don’t have to worry about spoilers, parties, trade-offs between candidates, or anything of the sort. It’s a simple up or down and I can make my choices on each issue on the ballot independently–rather than trying to figure out which dude will line up with more of my choices on the whole than the other (and whether that dude can get elected or whether I should vote for someone who’s a bit worse but in a position to win, and…).

Nearly half of the states in this country empower you and I to gather signatures and put laws straight on the ballot without having to lobby legislators or roll logs or hope the least-worst major candidate might consider making a speech about it sometime. Most of us who have been paying attention to voter initiatives have been spending our time fighting them–with good reason, when the initiatives being put out are idiotic stuff such as Amendment 2 in Michigan or Measure 36 in Oregon. But why are we letting these assholes make all the first strikes? We’ve been building a vast network of interlinked volunteers with a do-it-yourself political ethic, from the upsurge of the antiwar movement to United for Peace and Justice to MoveOn and the Dean campaign. So come November 3, how about we start putting those resources to work in the 20-odd states with voter initiatives? (And while we’re at it, bringing them to bear on the state legislature in states that don’t yet have voter initiatives.)

My suggestion would be to focus on campaigns that clearly put the case to the people that the government needs to get its hands out of the till and take its boots from off our necks. Medical marijuana ballot initiatives are a good start–they’ve been extremely popular where introduced and when they win (which they often do) that means one more state in which the federal drug goons have to either get mired down in extremely unpopular campaigns or else just give up. That should be expanded to an effort to roll back the racist War on Drugs more broadly. And here are some other ideas to ponder:

  • Initiatives to curtail corporate welfare–say, for example, abolishing corporate hand-out programs or restricting the power of state and local governments to use eminent domain for corporate development.

  • Death penalty moratorium bills

  • Ending taxes that disproportionately burden people living in poverty–for example, rolling back sales tax on food and other necessities.

  • Resisting the federal warfare State–by passing bills requiring the state government to refuse to comply with the PATRIOT Act, any future draft, or whatever other national security assault on our rights you’d like to single out.

  • Some resources for making it easier when we do have to deal with the party hacks–term limits, recall statutes, lowered ballot access restrictions, instant runoff voting, ….

All of these are simple, practical, incremental changes that would do some good, allow for coalition-building between Leftists, libertarians, and (sometimes, I suppose) small-government conservatives too. We have the resources to mount big door-to-door campaigns, with volunteers and with money raised from supporters; we have the resources to do some real good over the next four years whoever is in office. Better yet, we could start actually talking with each other like rational human beings about issues and whether or not some particular law should be made, instead of dickering over who looks more Presidential and whether Hordak or Smiley Face came off as more of a mindless hack in the latest tete-a-tete.

So, in that spirit, I’m resolving to pitch myself into grassroots politics come November 3. Real grassroots politics–not browbeating the grassroots into supporting some least-worst candidate’s politics, but rather writing letters to the editor, working more with local political organizations. And I’m going to start looking for, and talking about, and acting on, getting some voter initiatives that will make a real move forward on the ballot. I’m tired of following the idiots in the suits; it’s time to take the resources that we’ve got and take our case to the people.

Further reading

The rumors of feminism’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

(I owe the link to the brilliant take-down at feministe 2004/10/21)

If there’s one thing that you can count on every year, it’s that some dude will decide it’s time to hold forth on Women’s Lib and how the feminist movement blew it all and is, if not completely moribund, at least marginalized and just about to close up shop. The best part about spouting off about the feminist movement, for boys like these, is that it’s easy: unlike political movements run for and by men, you don’t have to actually bother to take the time out to research what people said or did, or what they are doing now, in order to offer your pet theories. Consider, for example, Tom Sawyer [sic!] of The Rant, who offers the following winning introduction to his article on feminism.

Remember the Year of the Woman in politics?

It sure came and went fast.

With this being another election year, we have heard form all kinds of groups. We have heard from the George Soros backed groups, Move On, the Swift Boat veterans and lots of others ranging form mainstream to the far fringes. You know what group we haven’t heard from?

The feminists.

This election year we have not heard from women’s groups at all. We have heard nary a word form the National Organization of Woman. This is unusual for them, since we have heard so much from them since roughly the 1980’s until the end of the Clinton Administration. They used to be as loud as banshees. Now nothing.

It’s as if they disappeared into the kitchen or something.

So where are all the feminists this election year, anyway?

photo: 1.15 million marchers rally on the Mall

1,150,000 feminists at the March for Women’s Lives 2004/04/25, Washington, DC

Oh, yeah, there they are.

Tom, Tom, Tom. It seems that the rumors of feminism’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

You say you didn’t see the largest political demonstration in the history of the world on your teevee? Well, Jesus, why did you expect the television news to give you reasonable coverage of mass marches in general or feminist politics in particular? Is that a strategy well-justified by its success?

You say you don’t hear discussion of the issues in the newspapers or magazines? Well, again, why are you counting on the newspapers to give you good coverage of feminist activism? Nevertheless, I do have to wonder which newspapers and magazines you’re reading–apparently not The Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe, or The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

You say you didn’t hear the candidates highlighting discussions of feminist issues? Is that the feminists’ fault, or the candidates’? Bush clearly doesn’t want to talk about it because he knows he’d lose, and Kerry doesn’t want to talk about it because he’s a schmuck. Politicians are out of touch with reality. What else is new?

What about the rest of Tom’s article–his theory that feminists have squandered their credibility and marginalized themselves by giving a hypocritical and partisan pass to Bill Clinton’s sexually predatory behavior? Well, sure, there were an alarming number of feminists who either fronted for Bill Clinton or didn’t say much during the Lewinsky debacle. But was that the consensus opinion? Let’s see:

I am one of the few feminists I know who believed Paula Jones from the git-go. I believed Kathleen Willey and I believe Juanita Brodderick. Each of these women strikes me as a credible witness. Taken as a whole, we see a jack rabbit who grabs any nearby woman for a moment of relaxation. …

Yes, Clinton has appointed more women to big jobs than any other president in history and that’s nothing to snivel at, but rather than view a handful of high-profile women as some sort of blessed gift from on high, I see the appointments as one small result of thirty years of feminist agitation. Yes, he’s held the line on abortion, but any Democratic president would have done the same thing. Now let’s look at a few examples of how Clinton let us down so swiftly we could only gasp: signing the oppressive welfare bill, dropping Lani Guinier like a hot potato, firing the remarkable Jocelyn Elders for daring to mention masturbation (how’s that for hypocrisy?), endorsing the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy for the military, letting Janet Reno get away with the inferno at Waco, vetoing the needle-exchange legislation, ordering air strikes on two small, troubled countries to show he’s the Free World’s great macho leader.

On balance, his record is atrocious.

–Susan Brownmiller, Bill Clinton, Jack Rabbit


When Paula Jones sued Bill Clinton, male dominance quaked … It was clear that now any woman can sue any man for harassment … Monica Lewinsky catalyzed the fears and bigotry behind attempts to shut down sexual harassment.

–Catharine MacKinnon, quoted in The Yale Daily News 1998/03/23: MacKinnon draws people to conference


I have a modest proposal. It will probably bring the FBI to my door, but I think that Hillary should shoot Bill and then President Gore should pardon her.

–Andrea Dworkin, Dear Bill and Hillary

You say you didn’t know about any of this? That’s fine. Nobody expects you to keep up with all the news on a political movement that you’re obviously neither very interested in nor very sympathetic to. But this stuff wouldn’t have been hard to figure out if you were interested in looking for it; and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then why are you still talking about it?

Further reading

Civic religion

(Link thanks to bean at Alas, a Blog 2004/10/15)

I don’t care about winning same-sex marriage privileges (for feminist reasons that I’ve laid out in comments and in my essay, The Cake is Rotten). But that doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent to electoral fights such as Oregon’s Measure 36, one of the latest rounds in the Religious Right campaign to write homophobia into federal and state constitutions. So I’m pleased as punch to have found (thanks to Alas, a Blog) the four arguments that M. Dennis Moore has managed to get published in the official Oregon voters’ pamphlet–in favor of the measure to ban same-sex marriage.

Yeah, you heard me. In favor. All of them are great, but my favorite by far is his fourth argument, Let’s Vote:


The recent OCA signature drive for the Divine Sovereignty Life Amendment, if successful, would have given Oregonians the extraordinary opportunity to vote on the existence of God, yes or no. Religious dogma would have been decided democratically by popular vote — essentially creating an official state religion with GOD ALMIGHTY enshrined in the Constitution as

Oregon State Deity!

Although this initiative drive failed, the Christian Coalition has now created a Commandment Amendment to the Constitution! Measure 36 ordains us to


of whether churches, synagogues, and temples shalt not be permitted to marry gays and lesbians.

And this election thus establishes the glorious precedent for democratic electioneering on ALL of the

Official Oregon State Dogma!


  • Shall churches, synagogues, and temples be permitted to marry divorced persons (Luke 16:18)? Let’s vote!
  • Shall baptism be by sprinkling, pouring, or dipping? Let’s vote!
  • Shall the Lord’s Prayer be translated forgive us our debts or forgive us our trespasses? Let’s vote!
  • Shall adulterers be stoned to death(Leviticus 20:10)? Let’s vote!
  • Shall obnoxious religious-right hypocrites be allowed to marry? Hell no! Let’s vote!
  • How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Hey, let’s just vote!

This is democracy! Religious beliefs belong on the ballot, and winning beliefs become public policy in the Constitutional Catechism! Minority adherents, straight and gay, should have the statesmanship to accept that religious freedom does not protect losing beliefs in a theological election.

Your special right to practice your moral beliefs (including marriage) is subject to the whims of popular vote!

It’s not discrimination, it’s electoral theology.

In Oregon, democratic dogma is inspired by initiative and referendum — in the

Holy Marriage
of the
One Official Oregon Church and State!

State beaches, the bottle bill, land-use planning, and now

(This information furnished by M. Dennis Moore, God for Oregon Deity-PAC [GOD-PAC], Family Alliance of God.)

Yes, that really will be going out on state letterhead to every voter in Oregon; you can confirm it at the Secretary of State’s website (the arguments he submitted are the first three arguments in favor and the next to last).

Electoral theology! Mmm, sacrelicious.

Further reading:

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