November 4, 2004

Blogging to-do list

Mention Minneapolis micro-radio experiment -- doesn't quite fit in the upcoming "thinking about time" meditation, but fit it in.

Talk about the survey of world opinion on Bush; this would be apropos to another election-related post.

Respond to Gemma's recent post on Connor's blog. We'll compose that response here.

In response to Gemma's recent pre-election post, now that we're immediately post-election:

This post has been made here as a comment to Gemma's post.

I don't know that you've provided any particular evidence regarding Tiera's intelligence as such. However, with all deserved respect to the American people, I can definitely say that she appears to have put more thought into her vote than 90% of voters, the roughly 45% on each side that reflexively cast its vote based upon only the vaguest impressions of the candidates. Even you and me. After all, we both knew we'd be voting for Kerry, or whoever the Democrats happened to nominate, within 30 seconds of hearing that the Supreme Court had effectively declared Bush president back in 2000. So I commend anyone who has bothered to agonize over their vote.

I still think she came to the wrong decision, of course, even taking into account her particular viewpoint. Abortion is a major issue for her. Fair enough; I don't know anybody who argues that there should be more abortions, and I would certainly prefer that fewer occurred. Voting for Kerry would have been the correct course of action, then. After all, the abortion rate has increased under Bush's watch, and there's no reason to expect that to change, given the theocratic right's instinctive opposition to readily available birth control and sensible education about sexual health.

The theocrats' other big wedge issue this year was gay marriage, which Tiera also has a problem with. Of course, the gay marriage that she and so many others were voting against is quite a different animal from the thing they are so uneasy about. She doesn't want her church to bestow the sacriment of marriage upon homosexual couples? This is a reasonable religious sentiment, and I can't think of a circumstance in which that would be likely to happen, anyway. A typical argument for taking this further, though, claims that married couples will feel their own marriages to be sullied if any church, anywhere, so sanctifies such a union. Unfortunately for anyone who feels this way, not even a Constitutional amendment repealing the freedom of religion would accomplish such a thing, any more than the Roman Empire was able to eradicate Christianity. The government can bar the issue of marriage licences if it so chooses, but cannot even in principle govern what blessings may be offered, or in which sacriments people have faith, barring the reinstatement of the Inquisition.

However, even if Tiera intended to lodge a vote against certain sacriments, that is not what she accomplished. Instead, she made it that much more likely that a certain type of legal document will not be issued, and that a bundle of accompanying rights will not be granted to certain people. Really, a marriage license differs little from a driver's license, and is arguably easier to obtain. By legally declaring themselves to the state, an eligible couple gains various various rights generally intended to simplify the legal aspects of operating a shared household and raising children. The only conceivable reason to declare that homosexual couples should be ineligible for this convenience is to be uncomfortable with the idea of gays "getting it on."

I would point out, though -- and this should be a particularly relavent argument to much of the population of Chicago -- that due to mostly identical sentiments it was illegal until the civil rights movement for couples of mixed race to marry in many states. While marriage licenses were withheld, priests mostly just worked in secret as they always had. Slaves, too, could not marry, and before the Civil War priests compensated by amending the closing rite to end "... until death or distance do you part." Thus, a politician militating against "gay marriage" can only sensibly be seen as promoting bigotry, which in and of itself should be enough to declare Tiera's vote for Bush to be flawed. This error is only compounded by recognizing that she was basically deceived to get her vote: the theocrats suggest that voting for them will somehow defend the sacrament of marriage, while it is clear that the most they can do is pass bigoted laws against legal marriage.

Both of these arguments have smacked strongly of pragmatism, which you worry might be in opposition to voting morally. I argue that there can be no difference. Morality deals with the rightness of an action, while pragmatics is concerned with the desirability of the outcome. But nobody can be harmed by my filling in the "Bush" oval versus punching the "Kerry" chad. Alone in the voting booth, my choices cause no suffering, no loss. I can tell my ballot no lies. Within the strict confines of voting one way or another, there is no activity upon which morality impinges.

Instead, the impact of my vote lies wholly upon the eventual outcome to which I am contributing, the election of a ruthless theocratic demagogue or a fair-minded moderate leader. I vote pragmatically, in the way that I believe will produce the best outcome. But how am I to decide which outcome is best? This is a fundamentally moral question. Morals -- religious or otherwise -- dictate what kind of world one must work towards, and it is for reason to deduce what actions support that goal. Thus a moral vote is a pragmatic vote, and vice versa. A vote for Bush is not a decision to put morality over pragmatism; it is merely (given what I think are Tiera's morals) a failure to adequately consider which outcome would better agree with morality.

Bluntly, a vote for Bush was a short-sighted error.

Posted by mill1974 at November 4, 2004 12:53 PM