The Conscience of a Voter

When Fascism came, it was not brought by uniformed troops.
It was not imposed at the point of a gun.
Fascism came because citizens were too distracted to pay attention.
Voters were too misinformed to cast intelligent ballots.
And the mass of people failed to recognize the inherent danger in the censoring of speech and the banning of books.

The moral implications of voting are too important to ignore. It is a matter of life and death – correction, it is a matter of life and murder. The hand that controls the lever in the voting booth can be just as dangerous as the hand which controls a gun – even more so. A person with a gun in a movie theater can kill a limited number. The voter has the power to kill thousands – simply by voting for the wrong candidate. Pulling the lever in the voting booth has even greater moral implications than pulling the trigger of a gun.
The big issue is uninformed voting, and that old myth: "It doesn’t matter who you vote for. Just vote". Nothing could be further from the truth. No vote at all is better than an uninformed vote. The vote of someone who has not studied the issues could cancel the vote of someone who has done their citizen’s homework.
Below is a list of simple topics. It was inspired by conversations with ordinary people on Main Street. This list is meant for the average voter. Those who are not informed enough to discuss them, should refrain from voting.
Do you believe that Columbus discovered America?
Do you understand the difference between a Primary and a General Election?
Can you name the branches of government?
Do you know the location of the nearest Drone Base?
Can you estimate the number of people killed this week by Drone attacks?
Do you know how many military contractors are in your home town?
Have you ever gone to Court just as an observer?
Have you ever written a letter to the editor?
Do you support Statehood for the Palestinians?
Can you explain how the Black Budget fosters government secrecy? When was it authorized?
Do you know the difference between C-Span and CNN?
If the USA is willing to kill kids attending weddings in Afghanistan, does it really care about your kids?
Can you discuss the video "Collateral Murder"?
Do you know who Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are?
Do you support US policy on assassination?
Can you give an estimate of the number of US military bases in foreign countries?
There are many different kinds of voters. Perhaps the worse of the worse are the ‘excuse makers’ – those who refuse to take responsibility for their vote. Within weeks after any election, they get ‘voters remorse’. They say the media misinformed them. So why don’t they get their information from other sources? They blame everyone else. They are still in ‘the-dog-ate-my-homework’ mindset. Granted, honest information is sometimes hard to get. Just take a look at the textbooks used in most schools. They often are intended to misinform. Some schools are propaganda factories designed to instill blind patriotism in the youthful minds. In order to really understand how things work, we first need to unlearn some of what we were taught in school. A class in ‘The History of US War Crimes’ would be nice, but that won’t happen anytime soon. The pendulum is swinging the other way. In a Vermont public middle school there now is a Cadet Program. It is managed by active duty and retired military.
Another category of voter includes those who say there is no one to vote for. Really? On my ballot last time there were 8 candidates for president plus a write-in option. If you think there is no one to vote for, you are still thinking in the Democrat/Republican box. The Democratic/Republican Party has been the biggest threat to democracy the world has ever known. Just think about how they game the system to limit participation in debates… and how they limit candidate inclusion of other candidates on ballots. They have raised dirty tricks to a new art form. There are millions in the US who are qualified under the Constitution to be president. Pick your favorite, but only after careful thought. Then use the write-in option. It’s fun. And don’t forget that the real power is with the Congress. Only the Congress has the power to finance and declare war. Your Congressional vote is the really serious one.
There is another group. Those who say that the most important issue is jobs. Economic justice is an important issue – but is it more important than protecting those who are being killed by Drone attacks? Citizens need to prioritize. Economic justice in the US is not the most important issue. Think about it. Would you prefer that your loved ones be poor, or live under the daily threat of a Drone attack? Not much of a choice. Sometimes we should put the safety of others above our own needs. Prioritize – first things first. Now, as I am writing this article, it is being reported that US Drones just killed at least 11 civilians, 3 of them children. Reports of US caused Drone deaths are so common that they are usually ignored. US Foreign Policy has succeeded in totally devaluing human life.
And let’s not forget that other group of voters. Those who openly admit that they are pro-war. There are more of them than we like to admit. At least they are honest. They support war because they think it produces jobs. Some support war because they believe the big lie that war will keep us safe. I would challenge their logic and their moral view, but they are more honest than those who pretend to be for peace but continually vote for war candidates. All D/R candidates support war. Repeating, all D/R candidates support war. Proof is in their support of a pro-war Party. History proves that both, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, support war. Anyone opposed to war will not be aligned with a War Party. Voting D/R will cost you your status as a peace advocate. It also will cost you your right to complain after November 6.
Then there are those who are vigorously fighting to keep money out of the voting process. Is this a red herring type argument? Yes, money contaminates almost everything – BUT, if a voter is armed with accurate information no amount of money or political advertising would make any difference. A candidate with trillions of dollars would have no advantage over any other candidate, if voters were well informed. If there was a trillion dollar advertising campaign designed to sell toothpaste which was known to contain dangerously high levels of arsenic, would you buy it? Some people would. That’s why some people should not vote.
Maybe all US residents should have the legal right to vote, even those who are not citizens. That would be the fair thing to do. After all if they live and work here, they are affected by the laws. Maybe even those who are not US citizens and who do not live in the US should have the right to vote in US elections. US foreign policy has a great impact on the lives of those around the world; therefore, they should have a say in our electoral process. Give everyone who is impacted the right to vote. That’s what true democracy is all about. Now, that would bring real change.
There still is an amazingly large number of US citizens who do not believe that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted during a CBS Sixty Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, on May 12,1996, that 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of US policy. Albright then went on to add that ”…we think the deaths of 500,000 children was worth it…". Any voter who is still in denial, and does not believe that Albright was expressing official US policy, should not vote. Voting for the wrong candidate can be dangerous to children and other civilians around the world. The US has devised all sorts of ways to kill those in other countries. Drones, bombs, and bullets are not the only weapons. Starvation, contaminated water supplies, and destruction of the infrastructure also kill.

It goes without saying that there should never be a poll tax or poll test. The right to vote should be guaranteed to all, but voters should use self-discipline and refrain from voting if they know they do not possess the information necessary to cast an informed ballot. This is a matter of honor. This is what is required of a good citizen. Remember, only you will know if you cast a blank ballot. It is OK to do that.
One side says vote for us because we are better at solving problems with the economy. The other side says vote for us because we are better at assassinating unarmed men in their bedrooms. Some voters are conned into voting for the lesser of the evils. That is the biggest mistake of all. Instead of the lesser of the evils, for a change, let’s vote for the best of the best. "No", you say. "That candidate can’t win." To a moral voter that is irrelevant. Voting your conscience is always the right thing to do. No one is morally responsible for the vote of another. Only your vote should matter to you.
Voting is serious business. The right to vote is a sacred trust. It sometimes is the only way that an ordinary citizen gets to express his humanity across international borders.
In a perfect world we would have economic justice, Single Payer Health Care for all, and Peace on Earth. After all the ballots are counted, I bet that there will be no change. More than 90% will have voted D/R. Torture will go on. Guantanamo will not close. Bradley Manning, Lynne Stewart, and many others will still be political prisoners. Children will continue to die. And the flag wavers will celebrate.