While much of the American public is currently in a tizzy anticipating Tuesday, November 8, 2016 – election day, or as I call it, majoritarian day – I am most looking forward to Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
This day after a segment of the nation decides the fate of the presidency will no doubt be ignominious but also glorious.
The Day After
The obnoxious yard signs will come down slowly but surely. The barrage of online and TV campaign ads will end full stop. Bumper stickers will remain but begin to fade in the sun and collect debris from gutters and tailpipes. The daily harangues between partisans will be less frequent and less bitter, or, at least, more confined to their usual pig pens on cable news, talk radio, and certain corners of the Internet. Enemies will once again be friends, and for every person who consciously chose not to vote, an angel will get its wings (not that I’m biased).
Everyone seems to know political authority is not to be trusted, yet we keep recreating it over and over.There may very well be despair – after the reelection of Barack Obama, I remember one radio caller, Pete, saying to me in his backwoods Southern drawl, “They just don’t pump sunshine back where I live anymore,” and he never called again – but there will also be a great sigh of relief. Of course, I am not talking about those honeymooners who will beam with pride and wishful-thinking that their president-elect “has a mandate,” as though the nation has somehow become a united fool’s paradise in the wake of a slim majority’s victory.
No, those who will let out the greatest sigh of relief will be people like me.
People who didn’t want an election in the first place. People who know that presidential elections have little to do with rational thought, honest argument, or genuine consent in the first place. People who see politics as divisive in an unproductive manner. People who think human beings are better than to hitch their fate to political rulers. People who reject the proposition that the systematic initiation of violence is necessary for civilization to thrive.
History as a Legacy of Revolt Against Authority
If there was ever an outward manifestation of the stamp of humanity’s lowly origins, it is our many attempts to create political authority. We are rather bad at it, yet we continue giving it a go. If not for our support, it would cease to exist. Yet, we persist in our attempts to arrange state power only to be proven again and again that we are indeed the blind leading the blind – even those of us lucky enough to vote in a democratic republic. And by insisting such political authority must exist, even democratically, we self-fulfill our own prophecies and think them to be destiny.
Everyone seems to know political authority is not to be trusted, but we cannot seem to shake our baser urges to recreate the dirty thing over and over.
Take, for instance, the average American voter who, while he distrusts and even fears the authority of a foreign power or a government run by the opposition party, believes wholeheartedly that his government, his nation, his party, and his president are good, proper, and necessary for the sake of preserving the human race. One of the tallest tales in the great American storybook is the idea that the average American hates government. The truth is, he only hates government which is not his own to command.
However, this problem it is not unique to the American voter.
Hubris has blinded many a people in their quest to erect state power and privilege for the sake of security, order, riches, fame, glory, etc. Throughout history, having gone by many names in many languages with many justifications, political authorities have risen to power of, by, and for the killjoys, cretins, and sociopaths inside us all. These authorities always serve a single recurring proposition that the initiation of force by a so-called just authority is necessary for human flourishing.
It is this ghastly proposition that has bolstered the capricious rise and fall of many authorities. Rose Wilder Lane puts the matter well:
…history is one long record of revolts against certain living rulers, and revolt against kinds of living Authority. They replace the priest by a king, the king by an oligarchy, the oligarchs by a despot, the despot by an aristocracy, the aristocrats by a majority, the majority by a tyrant, the tyrant by oligarchs, the oligarchs by aristocrats, the aristocrats by a king, the king by a parliament, the parliament by a dictator, the dictator by a king, the king by — there’s six thousand years of it, in every language. Every imaginable kind of living Authority has been tried, and is still being tried somewhere on earth now.
The Electoral Dumbing-Down of America
Accordingly, American elections, even today, are fundamentally about winning the power to command government, and such power corrupts the incentives of voters and candidates alike. Truth and honesty are undervalued, as is being informed on political theory, economics, and moral integrity. Look at a list of logical fallacies, and there you will find a guide book for succeeding in electoral politics.
Elections treat Einstein's opinion with the same respect as those who are currently drilling holes in the top of their new iPhones.Even if one is honest, informed, or idealistic, there is no real incentive to be truthful, educated, or principled when one takes on the role of “voter.” On election day, every nuanced thought on how to build the just city, every bit of detailed knowledge in regards to policy, every well-studied individual, is dumbed down to a single vote.
You may have spent your entire life studying political theory or the business cycle or geopolitics, but as a voter, all your knowledge comes to be represented as a mere penciled-in bubble or push of a button. Voting gives your voice a muzzle, not a megaphone. Though it may be the stuff of crude egalitarian dreams, elections treat Einstein’s opinion with the same respect as those who are currently drilling holes in the top of their new iPhones. Election day calls for us to treat an elbow wart and Mount Kilimanjaro with the same wonder and awe. Talk about leveling the heights!
That said, the day after the election, we will thankfully be done with this charade for a short time. No longer will the political elites treat fools as wise men (except when they look in the mirror of course). They will go right back to their private sneering or white knight quests to save their “lessers.”
No longer will neighbors be arguing over which evil to choose. They will go back to their daily grind. They may possibly be mortified or nervous or even overjoyed that a new devil has finally found a fixed seat for four years in the presidential chair, but nevertheless, they will soon begin to wave and nod to one another again, forgetting the nasty things said in the heat of the democratic process.
Choose the Lesser Evil, Then Turn Against It
The day after the election, the nation will no doubt still be divided, but the tenor of that division will be muted somewhat by the election’s outcome being so fresh in the mind. Common people will slowly move away from debating personalities to haggling over issues or cultural frivolities. For a few months, honest debate may sneak onto the public scene. One may even find friendship with former political opponents.
Choose your lesser evil if you must, but please, turn around and fight against that very same evil once you do.But just as things starts to look up, just as people start to get their bearings in the new political reality, just as society starts to heal, another election will come along and destroy any hope of such happy days. The scab will be torn off, and the process will begin again.
So, enjoy the day after this election and the short honeymoon to follow before the next election day looms large. Personally, I wish this current election was already over and done with, as I already know I will be opposing whoever comes to occupy the White House.
My only hope is that after the election, those who have chosen the lesser of two evils will give up their binary mindset. Having chosen evil with a hypothetical gun to their heads – and is the gun really all that hypothetical? – I hope they will join me in proceeding ever boldly against the evil they have helped empower, rather than continuing to say, “Well, it could be worse.”
Voters, choose your lesser evil if you must, but please, turn around and fight against that very same evil once you do. The more people who do this, the greater the chance that evil may one day be absent from the ballot, or that the ballot may be absent altogether.