Monday, September 15, 2008


I sometimes feel like Don Walsh in The Chromium Fence. The political issue in this story is not as relevant as the politics themselves. Politics do not seem to ever change, as the issues at stake ebb and flow - peace, energy, hygiene, arts, education, religion, economy, healthcare, recreation, immigration, transportation, morality, etc. We move up and down Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but no matter our level, there are two opposing points to argue.

As Don refuses to take sides in the political battle taking place because of the extreme nature of the two positions, his counselor points out,

You see, Don, you have a psychological inability to come to grips with an issue. You don't want to commit yourself for fear you'll lose your freedom and individuality. You're sort of an intellectual virgin; you want to stay pure. ... You've got to make a decision. You've got to resolve this conflict and act. You can't remain a spectator. ... You haven't quite got to the point of facing reality. But you will.

I find myself asking what's so wrong about Don's position, probably because I straddle the fence on some issues myself and refuse to register with either of the major political parties. I believe both have strayed far from what their founders intended and that neither is as concerned with the issues their polemicists debate as they are concerned with maintaining the status quo, that is, their own power.

So am I maintaining my integrity as Don asserted he was doing or am I separating myself from society by registering with a minor political party? Am I, in effect, ripping up my vote and allowing myself to be disposed of just to make a statement?

I maintain my own beliefs about the issues, and it is only by apathetically restraining from making a choice between the two equally but oppositely distorted views of reality that an actual choice is made. In voting one way or the other, my vote is truly thrown away, because in this world of artificial dichotomies, one vote does not make a difference. Every vote for a third party, however, lends credence to the claims of third parties, gradually increasing support and funding until they hold enough sway to start influencing the actions of the major parties. There will actually be another option to replace them if they don't temper their extreme beliefs and learn to compromise.

One day, we'll have the opportunity to choose among instead of simply choosing between in our elections. That is worth sacrificing for.

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