An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Prop. 5’

Does Voting Work?

This is the question that has bee wracking my mind since I first registered to vote back when I was 19.  I was registered in the 2008 year, when I was excited to be a part of the political system.  This decision carried a lot of weight.  But then I was starting to really get into the act of getting to know the system that I was voting in, the people I was voting for.  Learning the specifics of this country, and what made it flow.

Now, before that time, I had been a man who kept up on current events, but I never really dug all that deep into things.  I was young.  But this was the point where the political ideas that I have that guide a lot of who I am were developing.  My growth was a person has been guided by the late nights that I and my late fiance had discussing things.  Her passing marked an occasion where I was sitting up alone, pondering this.  The nights alone have been long indeed.

After becoming more aware of the system, the flaws and the failures, I gradually started to get the viewpoint that America is broken, on many levels.  The absolute corruption of this government is visceral.  Our politicians are bought and paid for.  The legislation that is getting passed is absolutely worthless.  This isn’t just hyperbole.  This isn’t just stating things and making no evidence.  I could go into exhaustive detail about how legislation is obviously biased toward one side, the corporate side.  It can’t be argued at this point.

But I continued to vote, for one reason – the belief that on some level, maybe not the national level, but maybe at the local level, I could make a difference.  My vote couldn’t affect anything substantial on a national level, since the options there were absolutely just corporate shill A or corporate shill B.  But maybe, on a local level, I could change things.  This belief has fallen away.

There has been an event here in the city I live, Anchorage, Alaska.  This event has shaken my very beliefs about not only the merits of democracy, but also the voting public in general.  It was a municipal election.  I won’t go into too much detail, since I have already talked this point to death.  Quite simply, there was a Proposition to get rid of a landlord or employer’s ability to descriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation, which according to the state’s current Title 5, they can.

The Prop didn’t pass, and anyone who has been following this tragic affair as it has been unfolding knows, it was a complete and utter fraud.  What happened that day was no accident, as was reported in the Anchorage Daily News.  The linked article and many others all over Alaska have shown that this was deliberate rigging of an election.  And what has been the recourse?  Nothing.  Almost nothing has been done.  The Anchorage voters are just being told by the Anchorage Assembly to just accept it, and move on.

We are being asked to accept an election that has been proven to be fraudulent.  That has been proven to be rigged.  We are being told that this is just something we should allow.  Not by all the Assembly members, of course.  Elvi Gray-Jackson was thankfully willing to say that there needs to be an outside investigation.  But her voice is among the tragic few.  The public has been voicing their being appalled at this.  The public (to a point), has said that this is so absolutely awful.  Yet the public has gone unheeded, and nothing is being done.  Nothing substantial.  There should be an investigation by the ACLU.  There should be another election.  This whole dilemma should be having this whole process be declared invalid, because the people do not accept it.  And yet, nothing is being done.  Hopefully, maybe, something will be done, but as of right now, we are just being asked to accept it, and move on.

This whole affair has left my faith in what little I could believe in when it came to the system of this country’s government shaken, and after reading that article that I linked above, I have come to the conclusion to the question in the title.

No, voting does not work.

Now, let me explain my position, because I am not just going to make the usual “it’s the system, man!” arguments.  I am not going to be like, “it’s all these corrupt politicians, man!” statements, because I believe the problem goes deeper than that.  But before I do go into it, let me put some context as to what I know a person who opposes my position believes.

My friend Heather believes that through voting, you have a voice in government.  There was a time when I believed that argument, and went with her on it, too.  However, examining the way things work in this government, it isn’t so simple.

Every election cycle, the people will talk about the politicians and how corrupt the system is.  That’s true, but nobody ever cuts to the meat of the existential nut – why?  Why is the system so unbelievably rigged?  Why does Corporate America have such a strangle-hold on America’s politics?  You see, the truth is that one of the reasons that I don’t see voting as worthwhile is because none of the options are any better than the other.

Let’s take a look at the Presidential elections that are coming up.  We have Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate, and Barack Obama as the current President running against him.  Mitt Romney is against abortion, and all sorts of other talking points of the Republican Party that we have seen for years.  But what about President Obama?

Well, he has pretty much franchised Guantanamo Bay.  Health Care Reform was a birthday present to the private insurance companies.  He backed and even asked for the amendments to NDAA that stipulated that American citizens can now be held indefinitely without trial or charge.  He gave the Republicans even more than they had asked before with the continuation of the Bush Tax Cuts.  The debt ceiling agreement he came to was obscene.  This man has shown himself to be an absolute turncoat to his own principles.  If, of course, he actually had any to begin with.  If you follow his campaign, there was a lot of talk about “hope,” but never much about what was to be done.

So, on one side, a corporate shill who is rolling back progress one “compromise” at a time, and on the other side, a corporate shill who wants to roll back progress one “victory” at a time.  That is who we have.  And the senators and representatives we elect are no better.  To get anywhere in politics in this country, you need corporate backing.  This is the system we live in.  So, if voting is your voice, then your voice is kind of limited.  Limited between Corrupt Option A and Corrupt Option B.  And who is to blame for that?

The biggest reason that I have decided that I am done voting is because the fact is that if you want to know the real reason for the system in this country being such a complete and utter failure – the voting public.  The fact is that the public, both liberal and conservative, has failed this country, and I don’t hold the politicians responsible for what has gone wrong.  I will complain about what they do, but I fully understand that the public is enabling these people.  The public in this country at large has become so complacent and so docile and pedicured that it doesn’t matter who you vote for.

The voice of the people has been channeled.  There will be those who will come and say, “but we can elect better people into office.”  Time was, I might have believed that.  But now, we have a people who, at their core are selfish, entitled and don’t even bother following what the issues are.  Liberals and conservatives are guilty of just getting onto a bandwagon, never stopping to question why, or what that bandwagon stands for.

So if voting is using ones voice, then the voice of this country should be silenced.  I take George Carlin’s position

But where do people think these politicians come from?  They don’t fall out of the sky.  They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality.  They come from American parents, American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities.  And they’re elected by American citizens.  This is the best we can do, folks!  This is what we have to offer.  This is what our system produces.  Garbage in, garbage out.

He is absolutely right.  The public is absolutely worthless and toothless, and because of that, we have rampant corruption because the politicians aren’t scared.  But nobody wants to hear that.  America doesn’t like it when a mirror is shined at them in a not so flattering way.  That’s against the American way.

A government should be legitimately afraid of its people.  There should be some fear that if they don’t fly right, the people will rise up and put them in their place, even if violence is how that has to happen.  But this government doesn’t have that.

There are no decent politicians and systems that are waiting, just that one vote away.  Our system produces people in it only for themselves, and not caring about everyone else.  This isthe best we can do.  So I reject the notion 100% that voting is your voice.  Your voice is gone, replaced by the options you pick.

With that in mind, like Carlin, I am staying home on the next election cycle, and I can complain because I didn’t help put these people who are making this mess into office.  I didn’t contribute to this problem.  Rather, I am here, trying to talk to all of you, and trying to tell you that there has to be a greater change in our way of thinking before I will be back to the polls.  And should it come to pass, I will be first in line.  That is a guarantee.

But don’t count on it.  This country is too busy watching Glee, and shopping at the mall.  It’s the American way.  They say that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.  I reject that notion.  People who see evil and do nothing aren’t good.

They are merely…patriotic.

Peace out,

Lefty

(as an endnote, I want to make it clear that I respect Heather’s position, and that this is my own position.  Above anything and everything, I ask that you come to your own conclusions.  Don’t take what I say as gospel.  This column’s dedication above all else is to be about having people think, on their own.  If you disagree, post a comment, and I won’t reply, but I will put it up)

“Religious Freedom,” an easy cover for bigotry

Whenever somebody is looking to promote an idea that the religious groups in this country at large don’t agree with, have you ever noticed a pattern?  The pattern that these groups will have their members come out of the woodwork and claim “religious freedom.”  It is such a clever line, and through it, all kinds of hatred and bigotry are able to be defended.

There is a new battle against anti-gay bullying in schools.  It is being led by Focus on the Family.  They claim that this new legislation isn’t just about preventing kids from bullying LGBT students, but is about “indocrination” and “promoting homosexuality.”  It fails to register to them that this is blatantly untrue.  These laws in various states are designed to protect LGBT youth from being bullied because they are gay.  No child deserves the right to be bullied.  But according to Focus on the Family, not only do these kids deserved to be bullied, but to stop them from being bullied is against “religious freedom.”

Of course, this card has been pulled before.  When Obama said that the new health care law had a section in it that said that health insurance providers had to cover contraception at no cost to the patient, the Catholics came out of the woodwork, claiming that denying women access to birth control, which has health benefits far-beyond just preventing pregnancy, was within the purview of “religious freedom.”  Never mind that this was about insurance providers, not religious organizations.  They wanted to make a stand against it anyway.

This argument of “religious freedom” is so unbelievably worthless in the grand scope of things.  By the arguments that have been made, people like Hitler could have claimed that we were against his “religious freedom.”  Think about it – his Roman Catholic beliefs guided his actions.  He believed that it was what God would have wanted – for him to killl Jews.  When the Allies fought against him, he could have claimed that we were hurting his “religious freedom.”  This argument holds no water, because it is always proven to be blatantly false.

How is the freedom to worship whatever deity you choose hurt by legislation that protects LGBT students?  How are you suddenly unable to believe in the religious system of your choice when insurance providers are told that they have to cover contraception?

Or a little closer to home – how are the religious suddenly made unable to go to their religious institution because members of the LGBT community aren’t able to be discriminated against in regards to housing and hiring and firing?  The argument by Protect Your Rights was that this law which failed to pass, Proposition 5, was hurting “religious freedom.”  But how has it ever been hurt by any of these pieces of legislation?

The fact is that this reasoning is simply a rallying cry to the bigots in this country.  It can boiled down as simply as that.  Think about this – Focus on the Family openly admitted that there shouldn’t be laws in place to protect gay students.  They are perfectly fine with bullying.  They are openly condoning the behavior of the worst of us.  Of course, they won’t admit that.

That’s the ultimate truth – these groups can’t admit the ugliness of their own position, because if they did, we would reject them.  We would reject their ideology based solely on hatred, lies, and the public at large being unable to question or fight against it.  This religious demagoguery goes largely unchallenged, because people don’t want to talk about stuff like this, or debate stuff like this.  The idea seems to be that we don’t have the right to call a spade a spade.

Or a bigot a bigot.  The simple truth is that these groups of people are merely finding a very poetic cover, for their own bigotry.  And meanwhile, students, women, and people just trying to live their lives, are the ones to suffer.  Our government does little to nothing to stop this bigotry.

To do so would be against “religious freedom.”

Peace out,

Lefty

Prop. 5 Fails, Discrimination Wins

While One Anchorage is not ready to declare that it is over, the writing on the wall seems to be the Proposition 5 (the new proposition that would have amended Title 5, sections 1-8 to prohibit discrimination for things like maintaining a job or getting housing based on sexual orientation) has failed.

A great deal of work has been put into this.  So many people gave so much time and effort.  But, as was seen with Ordinance 64 (the previous version of this bill), this issue showed just how easy it is to rally a bigoted base against a cause that they are “morally” opposed to.

There argument was that this was “inhibiting religious freedom.”  Never mind that the section of Title 5 that dealt with religious institutions, section 9, would not have been affected by this.  Religious institutions could show preferential treatment to whomever they liked.  But the truth didn’t matter to the “Protect Your Rights” campaign.

Their message was that these gays, lesbians and transgendered peoples were going to be like a seedy lot of evil monsters.  This kind of propaganda is nothing new.  When gay marriage has come up in other states, they try to dress it up really nice, talking abour rights and “morality.”  The truth is that we have allowed this government to pretty much openly endorse discrimination.

Such a sad reality, that.  American politicians have openly talked about how homosexuality is wrong.  They talk about how God is the one to look up to, even though we have a 1st Amendment, and his book is filled with some of the worst morals there are.

To people like Jim Minnery, the head of the Alaska Family Council, believe it is a conflict of “values.”  But what values are these people spreading by openly getting people to work against social progress?  They are saying that they value bigotry, because an employer could find out that you are gay and fire you on the spot.  They are saying that they value the spread of hatred, by having the people believe that these kinds of people are not worthy of respect or fairness.  They are saying that they value a system of beliefs that is 2,000 years old, from a desert filled with people that America is also openly discriminating against more than they do decency and kindness.

It’s not a question that there is discrimination against the LGBT community here in Anchorage.  Go to Mad Myrna’s on any day of the week and you can find this out.  Take a look at some of the signs that were being held up at the battle over Ordinance 64 and you’ll see where a good chunk of the population stands.

However, many will argue that most people are not like that.  Most people don’t discriminate, and most people are accepting.  Here’s the problem with that – where were they yesterday?  Now, I will give  that there were problems with the ballots, and this is an issue that I am very curious to see how it is resolved.  I’m not much for conspiracies, but that does seem to be a point of interest.  However, there were options, and the people could have come out in greater numbers.

The fact is that the group who is against gay rights is so much more able to mobilize their voting base, and this is something that progressives and liberals need to learn, because the fact is that the more people think that things will turn out alright, and that they don’t have to get involved, the more we are watching progress in this country get rolled back.

We are in a culture war, and the left is losing.  Badly.  Every compromise, every deal that is struck is only to stave off the madness, while the smaller battles are being won by those who want to get rid of all progress.  This needs to be paid attention to.  But don’t take my word for it.  I’m just a petty journalist who sees the writing on the wall.

Peace out,

Lefty

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