Windmillin'

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Where politics and faith dance in the shadow of the windmill.

Oh, yeah, right.

A week ago Bridge and WZZM both wondered aloud whether Michigan was turning “red.

Of course, that all depends, not least with what one means by “red.” Voting Republican at the State level? That seems to be a sure thing, between the mid-term fall-off, and the shape of the legislative districts. Nonetheless, there are also signs that “red” as in the partisan never say yes to taxes crowd was abating. After all, there was Ottawa County passing a road millage of their own. And in Grand Rapids there is a continuing push to local solutions that surprisingly do not have the partisan tinge. Even the one notorious measure, term limits, was more a product of local frustration than ideology. So if Michigan was turning ideologically red, it would be a surprise.

But just to be sure, Rep Pete Lund decided to remove all doubt with his proposal to revisit electoral vote allocation — a reallocation that would just conveniently hand off more votes to the GOP candidate. The entire premise of the bill of course is that Michigan is anything but but Red, that it will be voting for the Dems in 2016. Sharon Doente, director of the Michigan Election Coalition, nails it,

“Michigan has had a winner-take-all Electoral College since 1836. Any changes to the Electoral College should be made by the voters of Michigan and not the politicians who stand to gain.”

Taking decisions from the voters is another piece of political gamesmanship that has too often bedeviled Michigan politics.  It makes the GOP look petty when they should be looking like leaders.

Filed under: Republican Folly, , , , ,

Listening to Bad Advice

Gabriel Sanchez at the Bridge was thinking about the past elections and his decision not to vote. Formally, he was appalled by the choice between Justin Amash and Bob Goodrich, both deeply offensive to his Catholic values if in different ways.

Faced with such impossible choices (and I suspect others) Sanchez decided that the best answer was to sit this one out. This is certainly culturally understandable: there is something of this despair in the air, the stench of disconnection. But sadly, that was not his point, but rather there was another path to be followed, one pioneered by Alasdair McIntyre

I have chosen to keep faith with moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s provocative dictate: “When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither.”

He expands this later,

MacIntyre, we cannot forget that in our present political environment “a vote cast is not only a vote for a particular candidate, it is also a vote cast for a system that presents us only with unacceptable alternatives.” As such, “The way to vote against the system is not to vote.”

McIntyre’s branch is a poor one to try and hang much on.

McIntyre’s proposal cleaves participation in the political process with its fundamental questions of how power is to be distributed, and the act of ratification — the vote. In contemporary terms, we may see the political process in both its advocacy and actions as a kind of secular liturgy — a set of acts we collectively engage in. Voting, then is a ratification of these decisions; my vote participates in the process. Again to steal from religion, there is something sacramental about it.

Political participation without voting is either a tacit acceptance of the status quo, or an appeal to a non-electoral model of change. An end around of some kind; it’s McIntyre as an anti-democrat.

What about justice?

As an acceptance or willingness to accept the status quo, non-voting makes another statement: it denies the possibility of justice. Whether it is the hunkering down despair of the working poor, the too-busy indifference of the young adult, or the belief that they’re all the same — the action testifies to a belief that what finally counts is power, power alone. The notion that power can be rightly ordered (the actual stuff of politics) is glossed over. McIntyre ends up with Nietzsche.

While there is a temptation to withdraw, especially from educated conservatives of a certain ilk (e.g. see Rod Dreher’s “Bendict option”), it is one clouded by a lack of hope. In the name of principle, it denies the possibility of principled action.

It is the peculiar evil of this age of partisanship to devolve issues of all kinds to simply that of power and self interest without the possibility of something better, greater, a good. At the end of the day politics is an exercise in hope, in believing the best about our neighbor; that’s why there can be no walking away.

Filed under: Community, Politics, , , , , , ,

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