Sunday, September 12, 2004

The only "wasted" vote is a lazy vote, Doctor Hollowell

Dr. Kelly Hollowell is another writer over at World Net Daily that I enjoy reading from time to time. I appreciate that, admittedly, she's got a better mind for some things than I do: there's no way I could wrap my noggin around the stuff that a Ph.D in Molecular and Cellular Biology demands. And that she's got a tremendous working knowledge of the legal system. And that she's a fellow Christian. And going by the pictures I've found of her that she's a very beautiful young lass with a sincere smile and eyes that seem to radiate a pure love of God.

But in regards to her new column "Your vote: a terrible thing to waste" she's wrong. She's HORRIBLY wrong! She's so wrong on this that "wrong" doesn't even begin to describe it: I would go so far as to describe it as "spiritually lukewarm". And as much as she (without having actually met her) is most likely a wonderful sister in Christ, someone has to call her out on this.

Dr. Hollowell spends the entirety of her piece this week telling voters why they should not consider voting for a party or person outside the Big Two. Specifically, that they should stay on the Republican side of the fence. Ironically this comes on the heels of her previous article "GOP tent: How big is too big?". In that piece she warns that unless single-issue voters accept - however grudgingly - the incrementalism that the current party leadership has decreed is the only way to win on social issues like abortion, then "the only alternative is to abandon the Republican Party." She then ended it with this: "Pro-lifers won't turncoat to the Dems but neither will they support an unfaithful spouse."

If the Republican Party was supposed to be the unfaithful spouse, now Hollowell offers up a glorified spin on the old argument for why a battered wife returns to that spouse: "because where else are ya gonna go, baby?"

Dr. Hollowell said that in the wake of her previous column many readers responded with their exuberance about the Constitution Party: "Some actually wrote this party's candidates are currently electable, which they are not." I'm enough of a realist to admit that there's at least a 99.44% probability the next President of the United States is going to be either a Democrat or a Republican, but whether or not someone is "currently electable" isn't the criteria that some people are gauging their vote by. An increasing number of people, by the way. Neither are these people "willing to cast their lot in a completely meaningless direction to make a point that will be largely ignored," as she states that it is.

I'm one of the former Republicans that Dr. Hollowell has been pondering lately. It might interest her to know that the very first thing I did on my eighteenth birthday was register to vote. Holding up my end of the responsibilities that comes with being a citizen by taking part in this process was something that mattered an awful lot to me. I was a registered Democrat for almost three years before leaving that party: it no longer represented me, and I wasn't going to try to persuade it to either because I knew that nothing I said within it would really matter. In that regard the Republicans looked far more promising... but after almost ten years in the Republican Party I came to realize how much of a chasing after the wind that has been also.

The fact of the matter is, Dr. Hollowell, that neither major party really cares about what we think, or holds us in serious consideration. The Democrats have long been the shining example of this: does anyone seriously believe that the leadership of that party could genuinely be interested in "abortion rights", "gay marriage", African-American issues, Hispanic-American issues, radical environmentalism, AIDS, children's welfare, labor unions, anti-nuclear activism, and everything else that's trying to ride that poor donkey? Because they don't care, and the only reason that all of those interests have even agreed to be under the same umbrella is because they've been convinced that the Democratic Party is their vehicle to freedom. Rarely do any of them realize how much of a ride the Democrats have taken them for.

And now it should be painfully obvious - to all but those who refuse to see - that the Republicans have become just as bad, if not worse. I say "worse" because at least the Democrats never relied on the spiritual slothfulness of a core contingency while also claiming to be its best friend. Christians have become to the Republican Party what black Americans have been to the Democrats for the past half-century: a numerical asset and nothing more. And it happened because we failed to take the words of the apostle Paul to heart when he instructed the believers at Rome to "...be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you might prove what is good, and acceptable..."

The typical American Christian hasn't cared for the renewing of his mind. That mind is, for the most part, still consumed by the temptations of this world. It is enamored with political glory and enraptured by military might. It is so enthralled with the spectacle of the flag and the eagle and the salute and the gun that it dares not consider itself in the shadow of the humble cross. Indeed, the cross justifies these things, or so such a mind has been trained to believe: now humility is anathema, and might makes right.

If we cannot let our old minds die to the things of this world, the inevitable ramification is that our minds will grow enslaved to the things of this world and to those that control such things. So it is that for all the delusions we give ourselves about our freedom, the state of professing Christianity in America is one of bondage. We have become the willing dupes of the Republican Party: heck even Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor, has strongly alluded to devout Christians being needed only for the numbers they bring to the polls. But I can't really blame the Republicans for any of this: in our apathy we would have become the dupes of any party that quoted from scripture or raised the flag high enough.

That we as Christians would become little more than tools and that anyone - especially someone who is apparently a fellow believer - would dare insist that we remain tools... Christian though I try to be, I must admit to the lesser angels of my nature wanting to vent some venal vocabulary about this. C.S. Lewis said that those things that are not eternal are eternally worthless. Well, I can't think of anything more worthless here and now than a political party... and we're supposed to hitch our Christian identities on this thing?!

The only thing I see that's really being furthered from any of this - and regardless of which of these two parties "wins" elections - is government's power over private individuals. But if you want an uglier word for it, let's call it what it really is: "socialism". And socialism killed more people in the twentieth century than anything else. Why should anyone with a conscience be expected to sign on and stick with a party that is dragging America - however slowly - toward that?

Dr. Hollowell is trying to make the case that the Republican Party is the best means that well-meaning people realistically have to effect the changes for good that they so desire. But only if the Republican Party is entrusted with more power. This ignores the fact that the purpose of the two major parties is about nothing but power: its accumulation and retention, and holding that power over others.

The Republicans have held the White House, and both chambers of Congress, for most of the past four years. They could have effected a lot of change for the better in this country... if they had really wanted to. They could have used the weight of respect that most Americans still have toward the offices of President and Senator to convince enough hearts that abortion is wrong, that taxes must be lowered and increased spending halted. Those have been planks in the Republican platform for the past two decades at least anyway: but when given a chance to step up to the plate the only thing that the Republican party has done to satisfactorily pursue those goals has been... well, not much of anything. So why should we trust them with more time? More to the point, why should we trust them with more power?

Arguing that we need to keep working for the election of Republicans because "they can appoint conservatives to the judiciary" doesn't cut the mustard either. As high upon Olympus as the Supreme Court and even lower ones such as the bizarre Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have been made out to preside over lesser mortals, the judicial bench is still not the final arbiter of this nation's legal identity. It is now and always has been quite answerable to both the legislative and the executive branches. There exists no reason whatsoever why President George W. Bush could not have already signed an executive order effectively rescinding Roe v. Wade, and maybe someone should tell him that - and not campaigning for Republican politicians - is the REAL core of the president's checking power against the judiciary. If the Republicans didn't desire being so bold they could have always brought an amendment outlawing abortion to the forefront of debate after introducing it in Congress. Or Bush could have signed the order and insisted that Congress consider an amendment affirming the order, thus making members of Congress answerable to their constituents: the American people.

Or could it be that enough high-level politicians from the Republican party don't seriously want to end abortion? I don't want to elaborate on why that may or may not be, but insisting that abortion is only going to end after a period of incrementalism shouldn't pass the smell test with any rational citizen. It looks more like trying to pass the buck for someone else to worry about later.

To her credit, Dr. Hollowell does acknowledge later in her column that, "I recognize for now the religious right is in a large sense an ineffective voting block on cultural issues held captive by the Republican Party. This explains why little more than bones and rhetoric are tossed at the religious right on cultural issues. They have nowhere to go and no widely accepted strategy to change their current ineffectiveness." She makes a far greater leap than many Christians I have come to know, who sincerely do hold that the Republican Party is favored of God and that the Democrats are the perdition-bound thralls of Lucifer. But with all due respect to her being a Christian and a scientist, arguing that we should remain on the plantation and still expect things to get better is illogical to the extreme. Albert Einstein was even more blunt: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," he once said.

But I think that the real reason that Dr. Hollowell argues for staying faithful to the Republicans has not so much to do with spiritual apathy, or lust for power, or our failure to test the spirits as it does with something she brings up as the primary argument for voting Republican: because it keeps the Democrats out of power. And that still isn't reason enough for a person to vote against his conscience... nor does it address the root problem that ultimately separates those who slave themselves to The Two Parties and those who have knocked the dust from their sandals and walked away...

Fear.

That will be either Bush or Kerry getting sworn into office this coming January. I accept that. But I also accept that it's only because the vast majority of the American people are afraid of change that this is even possible. The better part of this past century saw our government, our media, our schools, and even our churches demand that we frame practically every aspect of our lives around a false dichotomy. And we've let it happen for so long that most Americans not only can't conceive of breaking out of the two-party trap, they don't want to leave it. Even though both parties are spent of vitality, devoid of principle and spiraling us all into national stagnancy, most people still want them to stick around because they're too comfortable with believing they still know what to expect from them.

Most Americans are like Brooks Hatlen in The Shawshank Redemption: we're so institutionalized that all we've come to know is our prison, and it feels like we'd practically kill to stay behind the walls. We're too paralyzed with fear to grasp for real freedom. We know what's in here... but we're too afraid of whatever might be lurking out there.

Well, I've enough faith in God that if we did have the courage to finally walk away from our captors, that we would find that our life would be far more enjoyable without them defining whatever it is that we must and must not be.

Dr. Hollowell, if by some cosmic twist of fate you happen to find and read this (and have gotten this far), please understand this: that I can't speak for anyone else. But for my own part it is my unwillingness to perpetuate - or to help perpetuate in any way - a fraud on my fellow American citizens that keeps them locked into a mindset of bondage that makes me dispute your position. I would rather see the American people as free as they can be, to follow their hearts and use whatever talents that God has bestowed them. The modern American political system that plays Democrats against Republicans - and demands that we join this pointless pursuit if we are to be considered legitimate citizens - is nothing but a charade put on by evil men to distract us from the things that really make our lives on this earth meaningful, while they sap at our energies and make a trade of our souls. And I refuse to let my time and passions be used by either side of it, in any way, anymore.

It has to stop, Dr. Hollowell.

And not tomorrow. Nor can it be a "wait until the next election but not this one because we have to vote 'them' out" either. You and me and everyone else with a brain knows that "next election" is a polite codeword for "never".

We are free by the grace of God, not the grace of other men. And definitely not men like John Ashcroft, or Ted Kennedy, or Jesse Jackson, or Pat Robertson, or even George W. Bush or John Kerry.

That's why I cannot go back into the tent that either of the two parties would welcome me under, Dr. Hollowell. I know what real freedom is like too much now.

I know the price that other men paid for me to have it.

I know that God has entrusted it to each of us as Americans, to uphold and defend as a sacred stewardship.

I know that my fellow Americans would most likely enjoy being free.

I know enough to understand that I can't trust the Democrats or Republicans with letting them enjoy being free, much less leading them to freedom in the first place.

I know that my responsibilities as a citizen exclude me from being afforded the luxury of being so lazy with my vote as to play the "either-or" game with the two major parties without considering whether or not one of them deserves my vote.

I know that, despite everything that the politicians and the press and the pundits and even some pastors have told me, it is not a vain and worthless gesture to say "no" to what they have already said "yes" to.

Because "electable" has nothing to do with it. Because whenever I say "no I won't" to their "yes you will"... I win. Every time.

And I want other people to boldly proclaim the same.

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