This page was created for the "2008" Election Season, and now I've updated and moved it to the Blogs area because it will apply to all subsequent elections as well.
First of all, for those of you who have not voted before, or who think it's only Democrats versus Republicans, or who think voting for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is throwing your vote away because you know that candidate won't win, or if you still think it's a "spoiler" vote that could have helped a Democrat or a Republican win — or helped the Evil Candidate steal the election, here is a list of websites for several (not all) political parties that had 2008 Presidential candidates. I do not officially endorse any of these parties; I just list them here as a public service.
Constitution Party: Mission Statement
Just because the Media only talk ("media is the plural of "medium", hence "talk" not "talks".) about two parties doesn't mean you need to vote for one of those two parties. Just because the two biggest parties get all the money and most of the votes doesn't mean they deserve your vote or are entitled to your vote. You should vote for the person whose views most closely reflect what you really believe is important, whether or not that candidate has a chance of winning. It's the only way the Government will really know what the people think. If you don't vote for the party or candidate that MOST reflects how you REALLY feel about the state of things and what should be done, then those who DO get elected won't have any idea that your opinion even exists and will feel free to just think and work party line all the way (which they may do anyway, as recent history has shown). For example, if 0.1% of us were really in line with, say, the Constitution Party, and they all voted for, say, McCain, because he was --though not exactly in line with Constitution Party thinking -- the closER in ideology among the two major parties, the powers that be won't know they exist or even how they voted. But if they voted for Chuck Baldwin, WHOEVER won the election will be able to see that percentage and realize that a certain segment of the population feels a certain way that is different from either the Republican or Democratic party line. And so on, for all these parties. Some of them are one-issue parties but some of them have comprehensive plans of their own just as well-thought-out as those made by the Big Two.
Technically this has never been a two-party system; it's just that these two parties have garnered most of the funds needed for an effective advertising campaign, and it's easier to maintain power when you have it. There are always many people running for local office on some other party platform than the Democrat or Republican one, and if you manage to send them to Congress or even your local Town Board instead of a Democrat or Republican, then that opinion will be heard where it counts, where the laws are made. The laws that allow you to carry a gun, worship where you please, breathe clean air, drink clean water; the laws that outline how much tax you have to pay and what your taxes pay for: just about anything you don't decide for yourself is decided by some government somewhere, so it will affect you in some aspect of your life, and so if you don't want your life hijacked by rules you don't agree with or approve of, then you're being really stupid if you don't vote, because your vote is a representation of what you believe, and those that govern you need to know what you want in order to serve you, which is what you are paying them to do. Even if you hate this entire form of government and would prefer revolution to reform within the system, the system is at least capable of and subject to being changed. Just one example: laws were changed when the "white" males in power finally felt bad enough about not letting their wives cast a vote, and then they were changed again to ensure than "nonwhite" people would be allowed to vote. This is just one of many aspects of the rules of this country which were adjusted to reflect the evolving views of its citizens. I don't know anyone who doesn't want to have some level of, if not total, autonomy; but by not voting, not participating in this democratic process, you are ceding control of your life to people you know very little, if anything, about. The system is far from perfect, but there never was and never will be a system of government anywhere that is perfect, because access to power is too powerful a temptation for a human being to resist.
Consider religion as a parallel to political parties, because it deals with schools of thought. There is not, in the world, a choice between just two religions. Not even in the USA, where I know there are a lot of people who think we're either Christians or Jews, and all Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Shintoists, Atheists, etc. etc. somehow live somewhere else. We have all kinds here; that's one of the great things about this country. Well, we also have all kinds of political flavors. Not all Republicans are also Conservatives, not all Democrats are Liberals. Not all Socialists or even Communists were exterminated by McCarthy. Those in power need to know where you stand if they are going to do their job, which is serve us the people. "Majority rules" is the maxim, meaning a Democratic president won't be speaking for a lot of Republicans on a lot of issues, but for many aspects of our lives, the lowest common denominator rules, for instance protection under the law for every single citizen regardless of pick-your-flavor etc., oh, I don't know, for example a woman's life if it's threatened by pregnancy complications. So how about this hot button topic: the Choice versus Life schism. The Choice people believe the Life of the Mother is more important than that of what the Lawyers call a potentially nonviable human, whereas the Life people seem to believe an adult or teenage woman's life is less important than that of an unborn baby. If this comes down to an issue of religious conviction, then the argument cannot have a place on the political stage since the USA will not preferentially support one religious view over another. But people have made political parties around this sole issue anyway. These people don't think the lowest common denominator rule applies to them, or more accurately, to those who violate what they consider to be a universal moral law, even though it's just their own idea of what's right. They confuse dogma with ethics, and assume ethics are universal. For them life starts at conception and outweighs the prior conception of the woman who has just conceived. So let's take religion out of it for a moment. Let's imagine what the Atheists think about abortion. I have seen no polls, I doubt any have been taken, but I would expect some Atheists to be in favor of the choice, at least in terms of the health (NO AIR QUOTES) of the mother, to abort, and some would not be in favor. I personally know women who believe in their right to abortion but expect they wouldn't be able to go through with it if it were their own pregnancy. So it comes down to whether it is a crime or not to have an abortion. (Current law says no, with many restrictions: this is what the Life people are so upset about.) Some religious groups deprecate abortion but are more tolerant of proactive non-pregnancy, with various degrees of what they'll tolerate, from abstinence only to including the Morning After pill. But even abstinence is a method of managing one's eggs, just like abortion is, and since, outside cloning, we can only get humans from human eggs fertilized by human sperm, the issue becomes whether it's morally right to either manage one's eggs and limit family size, or to try to get pregnant every time one ovulates, leading to families of 10 or more children over a woman's reproductive lifespan. In other words, does life maybe begin at ovulation, not conception? Why is choosing not to conceive acceptable while choosing to abort a fetus conceived during a rape unacceptable? (And no one talks about whether spilling sperm is a form of abortion: I won't belabor it here, except to say that the sperm makers have generally written the laws.) From there the issue becomes: what is the purpose of being a woman? Should women have the choice to be anything but incubators, since only they can bear children? Or should they have the right to choose never to procreate and do something else with their lives? It's not simply a question of what religious temple you attend, and in terms of the Law, your temple's tenets CANNOT be part of the argument, because the Constitution says so. If you don't like it, you can move to a country with a more religiously-connected government, like Indonesia or Iran. I find it curious that many of those who want the Government off their backs in terms of telling them what they can do with their lives, businesses, whatever, don't seem to see a contradiction in that they would prefer that the Government do step in and control what a woman who doesn't share their beliefs can and can't do with her own body; and also they seem generally in favor of the Death penalty, which we are occasionally reminded results in the killing of innocent people, innocent as those little babes they're so bent on saving. (I have a friend who calls this Pro-Life-Pro-Death. Catchy. My mother's advice: "if you're against abortion, why don't you adopt some of these unwanted babies you love so much? You'll take in a stray cat, why not a human?") But back to the common denominator idea: we protect the rights of minorities in this country to live as they choose, within reason. Pedophilia is one example of an activity which no community tolerates, but wearing a head scarf or skullcap to physically express one's religion in public is tolerated by all communities (I HOPE). So a line has to be drawn with the law as to what we will and won't allow. In terms of when it is and isn't OK to kill a potential human, the law currently draws it in the middle of gestation, but no one draws it at the line I alluded to, that of the egg in the Fallopian tube destined for oblivion due to a condom, spermicidal foam, or absence of any male donation, even though the only differences beween an unfertilized egg and a fetus are the number of chromosomes and the number of cells: both are potential humans. The majority of Americans currently agree with the law as written, just as the majority currently agree about alcohol: see below. So until people and the legislators they elect change their minds and decide that killing a potential nonviable is a crime, the law seems to be correct for the mood of the majority; and EVEN IF the majority believed, for RELIGIOUS reasons, that abortion is murder, if they can't prove it outside their own belief system, the common denominator rule still applies and we must default to protecting the life of the mother.
Let's take a (currently) less contentious topic: inebriating substance intake. Devout Muslim and Mormon citizens of the United States, among others, do not consume alcohol. This is based in each of these communities on religious beliefs about what is right, which does not include getting drunk or even buzzed. Most modern Americans, however, do not consider responsible alcohol consumption by adults a moral offense against the Creator, Creatrix or Creators of one's choice or heritage. The current laws of the USA reflect this: it is legal for adults to drink alcohol, and we can choose to drink it or not. In the case of THC, however, the current law declares its consumption through use of maree-wanna a crime, even though it is not addictive, as alcohol is for many people, and ingestion of its smoke is no worse for one's lungs than smoking tobacco, which has never been illegal, even after it was determined that overuse of tobacco will kill you. This is what we call a DOUBLE STANDARD, and agree or disagree, it is enshrined in the Law of the Land. That Law is written and approved by those people who run for office, and whom we pay to be in that office, so I don't care what it is you do in life, the laws of this land will affect you, and the only way you have to affect THEM is to choose who writes them.
To recap: under US law we do not have the right to kill ourselves, but we currently have the right to do many things which run the risk of killing us, such as skydiving or smoking, and we also currently have the right to take steps to prevent our death, such as aborting a pregnancy which threatens the life of the mother. We have the right to consume some substances which alter our brain chemistry, but not others, even though the degree of alteration or addiction is no worse or even less than that of the legal substance. These two issues are governed by the laws of the United States, both federally and locally, and this country's way of including Joe the Whatever in the decision making process of these laws is by having them choose who gets to write the laws. So if you don't care what the government tells you to do or not do, or what the government tells a corporation that wants to put a factory nexto your house what to do or not do, or if you don't care what your tax money buys, by all means don't bother voting. Now, back to the Two Party Myth.
Let's assume you ARE going to vote: if you don't do the work necessary to find out which party REALLY reflects your views and just assume you are either a Democrat or a Republican, you are not voting responsibly. On this Information Superfreeway, you can find out right from their own websites what each of the parties with a Presidential candidate is all about. So check out the links above.
Now, on to more issues. These will almost certainly not be what the Elephants and Donkeys talk about, which is usually the proximal issue of money. Funny: they are trying to get a job that you will pay for with your taxes but they keep saying they'll cut your taxes. Both parties. This can't be the most important issue. We have to have a government, otherwise some other country will take us over and impose their own government on us. (Oh, wait, we just tried to do that somewhere in the Middle East, didn't we?) So get over it: the government is here and it's what writes the laws. And the government needs your money to exist.
The quality of our air is, it should be needless to say, important, because we need to BREATHE, yet those in power from 2001 to 2008 weakened the laws protecting it so the poor beleaguered Energy Industry could have an easier time selling their energy to us, including energy subsidies to oil companies including Exxon which had back-to-back world record profits this year. Does that seem right to you? The water we drink can not possibly all come in bottles from Fiji, it needs to be clean out of the tap, yet the Bush administration fought to the last against attempts to mandate lower mercury concentrations coming out of coal-fired power plants which pollute the water table. That is because the poor beleaguered Energy Industry (one member of which, the above mentioned Exxon, in the past year made the largest profit in history around the same time it managed to get itself out of paying the originally settled-upon cleanup fee for the disaster in Prince William Sound.) put up a lot of money to get them into office, and this was the payback. Does that seem right to you? (This also applies to all the fish we eat and is why we're advised not to have more than one tuna sandwich a week. That's mercury from coal-fired plants contaminating our fish supply. Does that seem right to you?) Whom should we elect, people who will continue to try to weaken these protections our government has created with their laws, or people who will uphold them? Who gave the most money to get Bush elected? Whose campaign did they finance this last time around? I doubt it will be a clear-cut answer either, because these corporations are masters at hedging their bets; and they'll be back next time, using their money to get the laws rewritten in their favor, because this country was based on economic freedom, not individual freedom (or the Amendments would have been included originally), which is why none of the several Socialist political parties have a lot of power. Remember: the ideals of socialism do NOT necessarily and ineluctably lead to totalitarianism: the two major parties just want you to think that so they can maintain their power base. Socialistic ideas worked into American laws have never led, nor can ever lead, to a new Red Empire. Meanwhile we hemorrhage money and jobs to an actual totalitarian regime, sanctioned by members of both political parties: China. Does that seem right to you? Does ANYONE remember Tienanmen Square? Tibet? Hello??? How we deal with foreign countries is controlled by, yes, those elected to national office and those subsequently appointed by them. If you don't care if every single manufacturing job gets siphoned off to some town or other in the Third World where these great companies can get away with paying their workers a few dollars or less a day for the same work an American used to get twice minimum wage for, then sure, don't vote.
Our poor people would not be poor if the System actually were set up to help them help themselves (assuming of course the population explosion could be reversed — see below). The welfare system sucks. If you're reading this you're probably not on welfare, so I can only appeal to you to vote on this issue if you have compassion for those less fortunate. The laws need to be changed. Clinton started something good, and since he left we've had war, war, war. People are STARVING right here in the good old U.S. of A. But this also has to do with population: see below.
The Government shall not establish a church. (That's from the Constitution.) Yet Dubya populated his administration with born-again Christians, and many who had disagreements with his policies eventually resigned. For that matter, why did Colin Powell resign again? Why did Whitman leave the EPA? Why were Forest Service scientists silenced when they tried to demonstrate that the Bush administration was making it easier, against the law, for private corporations to exploit the resources on and in our national lands, which We the People supposedly own, besides the slightly more widely publicized attempts at gutting the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, among many other crimes? Because these people succeeded in shirking accountability. We can't afford to forget these things in this age of talking points and sound bites. Anyone can go to whatever church they want, or go to none at all, but what happens when everyone in the Executive Branch believes the same things or gets pushed out? Wait, I know which country that is: did you say Iran? Did you say Myanmar? Did you say... the United States of America? What is that called again? Fascism? Oh, did I mention Bush vs the whole scientific world on the issue of climate change? Read this. Be patient; the author takes a while to get his ducks in a row. Knowledge takes time. Well, that's all over now and we may all hope that the doctrine of Inclusion will spread far and wide.
Last but not least. Our farmland needs to stay farmland, for a simple reason: we need to EAT. The amount of loss of agricultural land in recent times will only get worse as the population grows, and it's on an exponential curve, not a linear one — and the area of cultivatable land is not growing at all, there's no curve, it's a flat line. There are no continents left to discover where we can expand even further: we have found all of them. We can't just say we'll import the food we can't grow since our farms have disappeared, because overpopulation is a problem everywhere, and we can't keep chopping down forests to make farms, we need the forests too, and until renewable energy replaces fossil fuels, we can't afford the cost to import everything we need, let alone let all our industries be outsourced to some 3rd world country where there are no unions to fight for fair wages. We need to grow our own food, and we need not to have such big families if we don't want our quality of life to spiral into misery in the foreseeable future. This isn't just my opinion, it's the way things are. So which candidate is addressing the problem of overpopulation, which is the single most important issue for the human race? I haven't heard anyone in the Media say anything about it, only promises about helping the underprivileged, as they used to be called, and making the very rich pay their fair share, etc. (Here's one party's platform plank about this issue: I don't have time to check them all: do your own homework.) If we don't educate and encourage everyone not to breed us out of room as we help them out of poverty, the problem will never go away. It won't matter if we close our borders completely (and successfully) to any immigration, we can overpopulate ourselves without any outside help. Every social institution, from churches to country clubs, should be addressing this, but they seem to think somehow it won't happen. I have two words for these people: Petri Dish. The world is just a very large Petri dish, and we are the bacterial colony that is growing toward the edges, consuming all the available food. When we reach the edge, there is no Big Scientist in a lab coat gonna come replenish the supply. No one will come to transplant some lucky portion of us to a new fully stocked Petri dish. This is a closed system. Unless we voluntarily stop expanding our population, only war and disease and starvation will keep us in check. Yet the Media don't ask the candidates what they're going to do about it, and the two main candidates aren't addressing it on their own. Does that seem right to you? You might object that this has little to do with government; consider this: the Bush administration has spent the last 8 years enjoying a little thing they put in place called the Global Gag Rule, which denied U.S. funding to any foreign organization which used its own money for the purposes of legal abortion provision, counseling or lobbying. Whether or not you agree with this government's policy of abstinence-only family planning, they had no business ramming their own personal ethics down the throats of other nations, against the will of the majority of the American people they're supposed to be serving, simply because they had the power to do it. This was barely if ever covered in the media. Does that seem right to you?
I say again, because it bears repeating: Overpopulation is the single most important problem in the world, despite all the clamoring over terrorism, economy, war and whatever topic of the day the Media choose to present. If we don't do something to get people to stop the unsustainable increase in their numbers, there will be wars not over oil but over access to water and food. If your area has been "sprawled" with McMansions in the last 30 years, what do you think will happen to the land when instead of 300 million people we have 600 million? Same size country, twice as many people? If you really want to maintain the quality of life you enjoy now, no matter how rich or poor you are, you need to pay attention to the laws of exponential growth and what happens to any organism when it has no predators to keep it in check. Obviously, using wolves in the USA and lions in Africa to keep people's numbers down is not the answer. Either we voluntarily keep our numbers down or we let wars, famine and epidemics do it for us. The only peaceful way to do it is to choose to have fewer children and use all means at our disposal to stick to that, including abstinence which basically doesn't work, but also contraception and, yes, if need be, abortion, at the very least in the case of rape or incest. But because these are hot button topics with a certain vocal subset of our population, President George W. Bush, on his second day in office, I'm talking his FIRST term, signed the Global Gag Rule. (Here's another site with facts about this.) Why did he do this? Was it based on some foreign policy initiative? No. Was it based on some mandate from the people? No. Was it based on faith-based ideology? YES!!!! It was one of his first "faith-based initiatives". So not only was the U.S. Government trying to tell its own populace what to do with their bodies (despite a majority favoring the right to abortion in at least some capacity), they extended it across the planet. I don't care whether you are for or against abortion: I personally think it's a horrible thing to have to do or even consider, but to punish a woman who is pregnant because she has been sexually abused by denying her the right to abort- based simply on the dogma that human life is sacred- is not only irresponsible and selfish, it is morally indecent. We are not simply enslaved vessels for future humans, as some would have us believe. If that attitude prevails, this planet will become a disaster area. You think the rate of extinction is high now? Wait until it comes down to us versus all other animals. Whom do you think we will choose? What, hadn't thought about that? Why not? Were you not taught to think for yourself in school or the temple of your particular faith, or over our amazing mass communication system? No? Does that seem right to you?
Thanks for reading. Now go read more, see whom you agree with, and get ready for the next election. It'll be here sooner than you think. Thor bless America.
Adam Klein, November 4, "2008"
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