The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



I’m about to say some mean things about voters and politicians.  It may get a little ranty in here.  But I’ll castigate people of all political persuasions -- no matter what your opinions, you can be offended.

Wait a minute.  That didn’t come out very well.

Before sniping at your cherished beliefs, I will pay you a compliment.  To wit:

I don’t think you are such a jackass as to participate in democracy in your personal or professional life.

I work in a team of more than a dozen people, and most days we gather before noon and decide where to go for lunch.  We never vote.  We kick around ideas by consensus.  You know how this works; we usually eat nearby because it’s convenient, but sometimes we go to the place far away that a few people like, and if someone proposes an eatery that would be fun to try, sure, why not.  

I can’t imagine settling “where do we go for lunch” by a show of hands.  If we had to vote, it would indicate a breakdown of consensus, and soon I would expect the lunch group to fracture into smaller groups.

I have been involved in organizations that conduct official business by ballot.  But these organizations also operate by consensus; voting is more or less a formality.  My bridge club elects officers -- but it’s hard to find candidates, you have to press them into service.  I lived in a small condominium complex for two years.  When it was time to build a new fence and gateway,  we were sure to poll every resident to make sure the expense was acceptable to them.  Again, I can’t imagine living in a condo complex where acrimonious debates were settled on an 8-to-7 vote.

Does your employer conduct important decisions by vote?  Does your employer conduct any decisions by vote?  No, of course not.

In a consensus system. or a hierarchical system like a workplace, an opinion is a vector.  It is not just the bare opinion that matters; a person can hold an opinion weakly or firmly, as an expert or casual observer.

In a democracy, a vote is a scalar.  A or B, yes or no, that’s it.  Voting is free and any moron or genius is free to cast a ballot.  (someone with inside knowledge of the Santa Clara Water District) == (my friend and commenter Beth who has had business with the water board) == (a guy who read a newspaper article) == (someone who was horrified when the mailer said Hsueh didn’t vote in primaries) == (someone who realized that Kwok is what a duck does and we can’t very well elect waterfowl to important office).

If any good decisions ever came out of such a system, it was entirely by accident.

I mean, look at the candidates available to you when you cast your ballot.  Look at them!

The recent presidential hopefuls, for instance.  The Republican party is supposedly the party of free-market capitalism.  Yet none of its leading lights has ever got much closer to capitalism than a cushy position obtained by being a government insider.  (Newt Gingrich is the same age as my father, to within a few days.  So far as I can tell, he has never held a non-government job.)  

There is nothing uglier than the cynicism with which a Rick Perry or Meg Whitman attempts to appeal to stupid voters.  (Perry famously was unable to list the three federal departments he would like to cut.)  The extent of a Republican’s “opposition” to the state is to agitate for lower taxes or to claim to be “business friendly”, with no details given.

On the other side of the aisle we have a complete nonentity whose resume was free even of the modest accomplishment of winning a competitive election (his opponent in the Illinois senate race imploded when a Chicago paper convinced a court to open the details of his messy divorce).  He is the subject of a personality cult, abetted by loathsome artistic propaganda.  Devotion to our president has attained a repulsive recursiveness -- the supporters of Obama feel right and just, because supporting Obama is a sign of righteousness and justice.

As president, Obama has lived up to his complete lack of ability by tanking the economy and committing verbal mayhem whenever separated from his Teleprompter.

It is not just human candidates who afflict us.  If you are unlucky enough to live in a state like California which allows ballot propositions, you must cast yea or nay on proposals which are insane when they are not mendacious, and mendacious when they are not insane.  Some examples from two weeks past:

  • A mandate to label all food with Genetically Modified Organisms, even though even the proposition’s Pro argument was unable to say specifically how GMOs were harmful to people.

  • An initiative to combat “human trafficking”, as if it were a typical experience to go down to the corner brothel and come back holding the chains of two or three ladies for a night’s pleasure.  (When your state’s ballot initiatives are less believable than the letters page of Penthouse, perhaps that is a sign that your state has serious problems.)

Well!  As Lord Ghirahim might have said, I had all this unhealthy anger and you were just the person to help me get rid of it.  Next is Part 5, wherein I discuss world history and the complete and utter collapse of our current political structures.  Might take me an extra day or two to write.

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