Archive for McCain

Are You Pro Choice?

Posted in Democracy, Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by njmalhq

A couple of days ago I found myself in a fairly familiar lunch hour confrontation.  Here is how it went.

Him: “You are NOT going to vote for Obama?!” angrily,  “Are you voting for McCain???”
Me: “No, I am not voting for McCain either.”
Him: “What, you are not going to vote at all?”
Me: “No that is not the case either, I am …”
Him: “I’m sorry, but that is just stupid.  Not voting is just stupid …”
Me: “I don’t see any reason why not voting isn’t a valid choice, but anyway I am not saying that I am not going to …”
Him: “No really, not voting is stupid.  Just plain unrealistic and stupid.  Big things are happening in this country and you are saying you are not going to be part of it.  That is complacency.  Complacency is just stupid …”
Me: “HEY!  Take it easy.  I never said I am not going to vote.”
Him: “So then what?  You are going to vote for someone else?”
Me: “Sure.”
Him: “I am sorry, that is stupid too.  That is just like not voting.  You are throwing your vote away.  You are burning it. ”
Me:  “You know, I have wondered about that, about whether that wouldn’t be a more effective and empowering expression of my choice.  A Gandhi style public vote burning …”
Him: “No, see here is how it works.  You have two choice on the menu, Vanilla, or Chocolate.  You are saying you want Strawberry.  You wanna go off the menu.  You have two choices, and you wanna go for one that isn’t there.  That is just plain stupid.”
Me:  “There is a third choice.”
Him: “No there isn’t.”
Me: “Yes there is.”
Him: “No, just two choices.”
Me: “Actually there is a third.  If you slow down a little, I’ll tell you about it.”
Him: “Okay,” impatiently, “what is the third choice?”
Me: “I always have the choice to not eat ice cream at all.”
Him: “That is just plain stupid.  How can you not eat ice cream?  That does not make sense. That is just plain stupid.”
Me: “Well, maybe ice cream is bad for ones health …”
Him: “That is just plain stupid.”

Which is where time ran out.  The lunch hour came to an end, just as my patience with this whole “stupid” thing was running out.  The “conversation” ended.  Yet another self satisfied political party fanatic goes off on his angry little way.  If you are not with him, you are against him.  If you are not in his party, you are a party pooper.  It is his way or the highway.  One finds this character, in overwhelmingly large numbers, in all political factions.  I wish he would slow down a bit and listen. Maybe the complexity of his world will increase for the better.  At least I might have been able to continue the conversation in one of the following two ways:

(1)
Me: “You know, your analogy is a little lame.  I like ice cream.  You like ice cream.  Who doesn’t like ice cream?”
Him: “Exactly!  Who doesn’t like ice cream?”
Me: “Lets try something else.  When was the last time you ate at Mc Donalds?”
Him: “I don’t eat Mc Donalds … ”
Me: “Well, there you go.  They’ve even got more than two choices on the menu, not just McCainuggets vs Oburger, and you still won’t eat there.”

In the theatrical version, the conversation would have concluded with Tribe Called Quest’s Ham n Eggs song trailing into the background.

(2)
Me: “I know you just love democracy, because it is all about choice right?”
Him: “Right!”
Me: “So, you need to decide if I as a voter have a choice or not.  You can’t have it both ways.”
Him: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I can’t have a choice, and have someone else make it for me.”
Him: “I still don’t get it.”
Me: “Well, I either have a choice or I don’t.  If I don’t have a choice, then voting is pointless, and possibly immoral.  It is pointless because it does not change the outcome.  At best it is a ceremonial, for-show endorsement.  Kinda like those one-choice elections in those banana republics like Zimbabwe.  And immorality may result from endorsing something reprehensible, even though it may be co-packaged with some good things.”
Him: “Okay.”
Me: “On the other hand, if I do have a choice, then my choice is my choice, not yours or anybody else’s.  You can’t frame it for me, nobody else can frame it for me, only I get to decide.  It is my choice.”
Him: “I see.”
Me: “Oh, by the way, you never gave me even two choices.  You are giving me only one.  Just one piddly choice.”
Him:”How’s that?”
Me: “You know I’d never opt for one of those two choices, not in a million years.  One of those two characters is absolutely the wrong choice, on the grounds of his specific lip-service record alone.  The other is the only possible choice you are giving me.  That is pathetic.  That is not democracy, that is more like monarchy. ”

(I did not have a good musical score to set this version of the conversation to.  I thought silence would be best, until my friend JG sent me a link to Devo’s Freedom of Choice .  Thanks JG!)

Unfortunately, such conversations will have to be relegated to immaginary corners of the lonely dark alleys of the net.  Simplistic tribalistic pre-framed discourse in the real world never leaves room for dialectics of even this level of complexity.