October 21, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
McCain is running an entirely negative, divisive, racist campaign based on lies, intending to trick, manipulate, deceive, divide or otherwise do whatever it takes to get enough people to vote for him.
And we all know it.
So if it works, where are we? Do we accept such a government, elected based on the appeal his campaign is making?
Set aside for a minute all the the voter suppression, problems with voting machines, etc. -- that's not what I want to write about here, go here for what to do about that -- and instead imagine that Nov. 5 we learn that McCain is the "winner of the election" and that it comes from a surge of voters responding to his current campaign.
What would that mean? And what do we do? Do we accept a government that we all know is in power entirely based on lies, division and racist appeal? This is a serious question: is such a government legitimate?
I'm asking for a discussion, not making a declaration.
Update - An email I received:
Unless there is evidence of illegal activity, yes, we must accept such a government, and, yes, it is legitimate. It is not illegal for an individual operating in an unofficial capacity (as a presidential candidate as opposed to a senator) to lie. Citizens have a responsibility to verify the accuracy of the information they receive. If they choose not to verify it and choose to believe a lie and to act on it with their vote, that is their right, and they deserve to be governed by the lying president they've chosen. There's nothing in a democratic political system that requires a candidate to tell the truth. It is we, each individual citizen, who must require it by refusing to accept any information we haven't verified for ourselves. We fail miserably at that, so we generally get the government we deserve.
Posted by Dave Johnson at October 21, 2008 4:28 PM
Is it legitimate?
First: absent fraud, absent wholesale violation of the Constitutional rights of Americas, the answer is, "yes".
Second: the question is irrelevant, your options are pretty much the same whether or not you view it as illegitimate.
Political reality, along perhaps with ethics, and one's personal beliefs, dictates that several of the entirely hypothetical options outlined below are illegitimate, or unfeasible (as of today).
Option 1: Leave. Migrate to Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, etc., at least temporarily, then work to put international pressure on the regime at home. Legitimate or illegitimate, this is a choice you can exercise in reaction to the election of McCain/Palin.
Upside: You've removed yourself from the direct control of a government you strongly disagree with. Less likehihood of worst case scenario personally.
Downside: Doesn't help the country, unlikely to precipitate major changes unless exodus is wholesale and threatens economic viability of the state, doesn't do anything for everyone left behind. McCain regime even less likely than Bush regime to pay attention to international pressure. Probable significant personal costs, financial and otherwise.
My question would be: why haven't you left already, given the last eight years? What could possibly be more provocation?
Personally, this is an option due to my wife's Swedish citizenship... am I likely to exercise it? Not unless things got radically worse. Enough to make other, currently unimaginable options worth thinking about.
Option B: Continue to fight within the system at the Federal electoral and politcal to change/reform it.
Upside: It could work.
Downside: It hasn't worked so far, at least not to the degree most folks on this blog would like. Leaves you directly vulnerable to social and economic policies of McCain regime.
Personally, the only realistic option, absent a degradation in the level of politics far worse than anything we've seen to date. Even if you don't see a McCain/Palin government as "legitimate", you may see this as the most realistic option (although you might be discouraged about pursuing it).
Option C: Peaceful succession: figure out a way for California and sympathetic states to disjoin themselves from their union with the folks in states susceptible to this nonsense.
Upsides: Electorate like to be marginally more rational. Billions of dollars a year sent to subsidize war machine and Federal lunacies available to do things at home. Possible positive economic effects. Government closer to home. No more East Coast bias.
Downsides: We'd like be stuck with a significant proportion of the Federal Government's existing liabilities. Need to replicate existing infrastructure to some degree. Political credibility of proposition fairly low. Historical difficulties of similar efforts. Do you identify more as an American or as a Californian? Can we walk away from the American project? How would our economy be affected?
Personally, I see it as a fantasy that crumbles upon close examination. Nevertheless, whether or not you see a McCain/Palin regime as legitimate is only marginally relevant - even if you do see it as legitimate, this is still a valid option.
Option D: Unpeaceful succession. Take up arms with the same end in mind.
Pros: None, entirely relative to other worst case scenarios.
Cons: See Civil War, and an endless stream of examples of how costly this is. Many people hold strong ethical view about political violence, myself among them.
If this becomes a realistic option in a significant percentage of the California public's mind, something will have had to have gone really really really really badly wrong. Far worse than the last eight years.
Option E: Revolution. Overthrow the legitimately elected government of the United States by force.
Option F: Assassination.
Pros: If you look at it rationally, none. Very very bad mojo for democracy, political stability, and the implied social contract that prevents utter chaos. Lots of historical examples of why accepting this as a legitimate vehicle for political change is disasterous.
Stupid people will think, Nancy Pelosi is third in line for succession. We'll have a Democrat running the country.
Smart people will think, once the precedent is set, there's no turning back the clock. The logic behind believing this to be a legitimate is applicable to any elected officeholder you disagree with. It is a formula for chaos of the worst sort.
These last three options, I can't see an argument for at any level, unless you believe the McCain/Palin regime is illegitimate, but even then, the political and moral calculus remains pretty much the same... it makes pretty much no difference.
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