Anti-Trump AND Anti-Hillary: What’s a Voter To Do?

Anti-Trump AND anti-Hillary: What’s a voter to do?  This seems to be an endemic quandary in the current presidential campaign.  I have my own views, which I have blogged, ranted and wrote poems about.  My views are considered too radical and too scary by many, and perhaps even somewhat crazy by more than a few.  What might professional philosophers, trained in the rigors of logic and systematic thought, think about this palpable, contemporary quandary?  One famous philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, gives his esteemed analysis in Can’t stand Hillary or Trump? Here’s what you must do, an article from Intellectual Takeout, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to feed minds, foster discussion, and inspire action:

I can’t recall an election in which the two leading candidates were more reviled in both breadth and depth. The rejoinder I keep hearing is that 2016 is the Lesser of Two Evils Election.

The data bears this out. A poll conducted in May by the Washington Post found that 57 percent of people had an unfavorable view of Donald Trump; 45 percent of those polled had a highly favorable view of him. Hillary Clinton, believe it or not, had even higher unfavorables.

Both candidates, of course, somehow were officially nominated by their respective parties last month.

Thus, many Americans find themselves in an ethical quandary. Finding both candidate X and candidate Y utterly repellent, they are left with the following choice: 1) Vote for the candidate they find less repellent. 2) Vote for neither candidate (by either not voting or voting for a third party candidate who has essentially no chance of winning).

What should one do?

Alasdair MacIntyre, an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, is on the record on what voters should do in such a situation. He is unequivocal: Voters should reject both candidates.

Here is what he wrote:

When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives.

Such a suggestion—coming from a moral philosopher no less—might seem jarring to the civic-minded citizen. MacIntyre concedes this, noting that it has been ingrained in our fiber to view not voting as irresponsible.

So how does he justify not voting in an important election? In MacIntyre’s view, voting for “the lesser of two evils” is a tacit vote for the system that put the two candidates in place, a system that “presents us only with unacceptable alternatives.” By not casting a ballot, voters are, in effect, casting a vote against the system.

“The way to vote against the system is not to vote,” he writes.

Do you find MacIntyre’s argument persuasive? Will it persuade you to not vote or vote for one of the also-rans?

I agree wholeheartedly that the logical and sensible solution is to withdraw from the boundaries of a seemingly forced false choice.  This would simply be healthy boundary setting from a healthy electorate. However, positing the only other touted alternative as not voting at all seems to me like just another false choice, or, perhaps even more egregiously, a non-choice.  Shame on you, terribly uncreative moral philosopher (or reporter?).  There are third, and fourth, and fifth party presidential candidates running, for whom you can cast your ballot, that will profoundly more clearly register one’s rejection of the two-party duopoly and rigged choices of candidates.  The amorphous category of nonvoter is especially un-instructive since longstanding low voter turnout is comprised of a large portion of apathy not well characterized as politically enlightened or active.  With our purported democracy in crisis, voting may be of limited importance.  Nonetheless, voting does have importance.  Voting is a relatively easy, and I believe cost-effective, way to move democracy forward.  However, in the end, electoral politics alone will not be enough to forge a positive political revolution.  Let US reject false and rigged choices foisted upon US and vote for a candidate outside the two-party duopoly.  Then, immediately — that is even before the election — join in non-electoral, movement political actions to change the larger system not worthy of our vote.

Feel free to check out Top Pun’s election and third party politics designs.

POEM: The Largesse Hope Passable

Its knot awe
A bout winning
Partisan bickering
Aisle let go
Out come
The largesse hope
Becoming passable

I Don't Want My Country Back, I Want My Country Forward POLITICAL BUTTONThis poem is about movement politics compared to electoral politics.  Electoral politics is defined by the ballot box.  The ballot box in the United States is the least accessible of any western democracy.  We do not have universal voter registration.  We have a gauntlet of barriers winnowing out registered voters.  This is all undergirded by widespread political illiteracy.  The typical American neither knows nor cares about voter ignorance or apathy.  Though in the the daze after the election they may complain about whichever one won: ignorance or apathy.  Less than half of the eligible votes in America are even cast, so at best a plurality of a fraction of the electorate are deciding elections.  This fate is worsened by the reality that a few power elites select the even fewer candidates in which to throw our ballot.  Do You Suffer From Electile Dysfunction? The inability to be aroused by any political candidate POLITICAL BUTTONIf compromise is the art of politics, then the United States has the most artful democracy in the so-called free world.  Voting is essentially responding to the question: Who will I consent to govern over me?  I strongly suspect that non-voting is less a manifestation of being in liberty than endemic electile dysfunction.  In America, democracy is damned if you do, dammed if you don’t!  The bickering partisan, as a rule, wins.  I Don't Care Which Party Is In Control, I Don't Want To Be Controlled POLITICAL BUTTONMovement politics is the larger politics that changes the winds in the rigged sale of democracy.  Movement politics is our best hope for see change.  Weather it’s the Black Lives Matter movement, the queer equality movement, or the peace movement, such movements open up new possibilities, not merely passabilities.  There is a slew of slick proposals for every won that can carry us across the threshold.  While electoral politics is bettor characterized buy having having their pants down, movement politics is bottom up, shooting for the moon that professional politicians only shake their heads at.  In a hurricane of parties of NO, top-down politics wants US to exchange our liberty for some shiny beads around our neck. A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not in reach, keep your ballot in your pocket. Malcolm X quote POLITICAL BUTTONMovement politics is about gloriously saying YES, nonetheless, being very choosy about who or what consenting to.  The largesse hope that movement politics taps into reflects the highest form of consent.  And with respect to movement politics we can inaugurate healthy political relationships, not merely beholden or hopelessly screwy.

POEM: Trump U

What are you
Fraud of
That witch trumps university
Coaching that imperceptible deference
Between ignorance and apathy
Knot knowing or caring
Students funked
Never to be
Defunct
Taken by the Don
Bankrupt in every way
Never graduating pompous circumstances
And his conceded tautology
Let buy gones be buy gones

The fraud of Donald Trump continues unabated.  Trump University has allot to teach US, as the Don bequeaths his hardily gratuitous lessens.  The supposably honorary third degree from doctored Trump rations his bizarre quotas to ravenous mediums chomping at the bit to   divine truth so easily christened.  Donald ducks insubstantial quests in a bout his caricature of humanity.  Left or riot is any won’s guest.  He is red, the rite act.  Everyman is crowned and every whoa man is frowned.  Never the lass, he may be throned, of the porcelain variety, regularly off color.  And with that seat up, he will jocularly screw maiden America, or any daughter, of the American evolution that is.  Shirley, there will be no hippo campus at his highbrow collage of cosmetic cosmologies.  King Trump mightily Depends™ his unpronounceable cymbal formally known as Trump U.  And not with standing, God loves him, giving him a big hand, as edict among us, unveritable whopper delivered to burghers cross the nation.  Don't Blame Me, My Vote Was Thrown Away POLITICAL BUTTONThe King dumb of God is up on US.  Can some give me an omen.  For awe of this, will only, come to ahead after pain much tuition in the poison ivy league, reckoning that doomed scratch and ran dumb itches for all they are worth.  As good as bust, and skirting, ruin US, laying odds on Night Mare in the fifth raze.  I don’t always drink Dos Equis (XX), but when I due, I have a third party.

POEM: Rare Prayer

I found myself
In rare prayer
A genus reserved for
Mother’s ilk
Only doing what
Kin be done
In udder neglect
Of that long a go
Cached in
Fore more sensible weighs
Now wholly saved
For foxholes
The mass
Of desperate men
And occasional women
Re-sorting
In rare prayer
As raw flesh exposed
With feudal armor flailing miserably
In stoic winsome
God’s mourning dawns
As initiate
Such supplication
With a hesitant plea
Claiming how sow little requested
And sow far between
Only mildly disappointed with the crop received
In won’s life
With such scanty solicitations
The ground of my being
Like an ungraceful sludge hammer cleaving diamonds
Seaming as a sedimental journey at best
A grime scene at worst
A present cut to ribbons
Stairing into a box
Bound for eternity
And still
As I here, a response
An uncommon sense
A peel for more
In treat awe
Even the one
Who reveres coarse
And bars none
The less
The great
I am
Fooly in chanted
Soully to that call
Which cannot be herd
Accept bye
One’s self

This poem was inspired by a prayerful moment at a protest to stop the BP refinery in Oregon, Ohio, from investing 2.5 billion dollars to retool to process tar sands, the dirtiest source of petroleum yet sought after by oily men. Toward the end of the demonstration, I found myself at the fence reflecting on the unlikelihood that we would be able to stop this fuelish investment in an environmentally destructive infrastructure, a generations-long commitment of resources to a dirty energy future, an asphalt super-highway to perdition.

The “rare” prayer in this poem, not surprisingly has several meanings. While I quite easily, with great frequency, say a prayer of thanks, I rarely ask God for anything very specific.  I can’t help but experience a feeling of hubris in the notion that God is waiting to align the universe according to my requests.  Also, this is a personal spiritual practice and practical way for me to decouple from the many manipulative aspects of religion, as if God exists to serve my will.  I am quite thrilled with God’s creation and how magnificently convenient it serves my will and purposes.  In this sea of grace, any desire to bend the world to my will seems like disgruntlement.   Most any traditional prayer life has been leveled by my integration into my heart of the mystic Meister Eckhart quote, “If there were but one prayer, ‘Thanks,’ would suffice.”  However, there are the occasional moments when I feel particularly vulnerable or mournful.  This is where the “rare” is “As raw flesh exposed.”  The world is definitely a mournful place.  Discord and loss are everyday experiences.  Harmony-seekers must confront ignorance, apathy, and outright intransigence.

In the face of the powers that be at BP, I can fantasize about God sending down a pillar of fire to destroy such intransigent offenders.  Unfortunately, this perverse desire is in much too scary alignment with the very BP offenders I wish to see punished or expunged from our shared reality we call earth.  Such greedy and spiritually lazy offenders wish nothing more than to secure their own little world from its many vulnerabilities and impinging insecurities.  Well, my God is not a mighty fortress!  My God is the giver of life, unmerited as we turn out to be at times.  My God mourns with me as discord and destruction rains.  My God is present in “it all,” yearning and wooing us to live fully, not settling for lesser dreams, half-truths, and lives broken into pieces.  I got the answer to my prayer before I even finished it.  As I was engaging God with talk of how I ask for stuff so infrequently, and how I don’t ask for much, I was gently but firmly and unmistakenly reminded that God does not want me to make merely occasional, hesitant or apologetic pleas for incrementally better lives.  God’s will for our life is for whole lives, lived boldly, even in the face of seeming intractable brokenness.  God incessantly invites us to be people of hope, a living hope which becomes incarnate in the world by boldly living in consonance with that hope.  In case this bold sentiment might be doubted, my quick prayer and swift response was punctuated with the crowd of witnesses present that day boldly singing about how we will not compromise, neither our hopes nor our demands for a world full of harmony.  God works in strange in mysterious ways.  Sometimes not so mysterious — though perhaps somewhat strange to some.

POEM: Needling a Haystack

The stockpiles of human knowledge grow exponentially
And wisdom, like needling a haystack
Says, “What the hay?!”
Finding better questions is where it’s at
Not how fast you can shovel it
Nor how big your pitchfork is
Rather what thread follows
And sew what

This short poem is a tribute to questioning with a purpose.  Unfettered skepticism produces cynicism.  Wisdom recognizes that some questions are better than others.  In fact, what questions you ask determines what answers you get.  This poem cuts through the exponential amassing of knowledge by honing our attention to that which mends our reality together into a meaningful whole.  Without meaning full questions to guide our inquiries, greater access to knowledge simply leads to greater confusion.  The attraction and distraction of a tsunami of available answers to questions, i.e., knowledge, can actually hamper wisdom.  Now, this isn’t some anti-intellectual argument.  This simply recognizes that intellect lacking wisdom is much less fruitful, even dangerous.  The quests for scientific knowledge and wisdom are consonant.  Both seek to integrate knowledge into an ever greater whole.  Knowledge that serves the whole, as opposed to just some part of reality, is a better quality of knowledge.  Knowledge isn’t just about bits and pieces, mere facts; true knowledge is about a deeper understanding of the relationship of these parts to each other, and most importantly, the whole.  Wisdom has a deep respect for the whole, and an even deeper reverence for the fact that the ever greater whole can only be tentatively and incompletely described.  Thus, wisdom is characterized by both humility and curiosity.  Wisdom opposes militant ideologies and apathy.  In fact, militant ideologies are simply ideologies that have lost humility and curiosity and stopped seeking out the ever-elusive, ever-greater whole, which is at least partially represented by those outside a militant ideology.  This fact escapes many trapped in militant ideologies because they mistake totality for unity.  Wisdom is an inoculation against militancy, fascism, and fundamentalism.  This is because the humility and curiosity of wisdom breeds a generous attitude in seeking a harmonious relationship with the whole.  The openness of wisdom is not merely a corollary of the tentativeness of empirical skepticism and scientific reductionism; it is is rooted in the positive appreciation for the value of the “other” which comprise the yet-undiscovered aspects of reality and ineluctable mystery.  This may be your enemy.  This may be God.  It may be both.  A generosity transcending mere openness is made possible by a trust or faith in the whole being more valuable than the parts, even the sum of the parts.  This faith is as essential to healthy scientific investigation as it is to loving human relationships.  This simply assumes, or prefers, science that serves the whole rather than some special interest.  This simply assumes, or prefers, human relationships that don’t reduce humans to things to be manipulated, but beings to be appreciated.  The generosity of wisdom is the mother to its only true child: kindness.  In humility, stripped of arrogance and egocentricity, and equipped with an overpowering curiosity and a transcendent appreciation of the “other,” only kindness remains.  And all good will follow.

Mock Funeral – Occupy Toledo

Yesterday, April 1st, April Fool’s Day, was the one and only performance of Occupy Toledo‘s Mock Funeral — in life (and death) there are no rehearsals, this is it!  If you missed it, I truly hope that you were doing something else as fun and inspiring!  Thanks to all the players, readers, eulogizers, ushers, HOMElessLAND SECURITY, providers of food, and all who helped make Occupy Toledo’s RE-BIRTHDAY possible.  We rose like a phoenix from the ashes!!  Occupy Toledo will re-start the physical re-occupation of Toledo on May1, May Day, the day of a worldwide general strike!  Join us May 1 in Levi’s Square, downtown Toledo, St. Clair at Madison.  In the meantime you can come help plan the occupation of Toledo at our General Assembly meeting every Wednesday at 6:30 pm at Third Space.

Below is a picture of our own Rev. Ed Heilman serving as mock preacher (note the dollar sign on his bishop’s hat and the dollar sign cross on the altar)

Mock Funeral Preacher (Rev. Ed Heilman)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Obituary from the Mock Funeral:

“Occupy Toledo was born October 10, 2011, to it’s parents, the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Born of hope, Occupy Toledo burst onto the scene in its own charmingly childish way. However, from the birth of Occupy Toledo, few people could understand what it wanted. Onlookers mumbled again and again: “What do they want?” “I don’t get it.” Occupy Toledo flailed around for about 6 months until it realized that it was too small to succeed. After scrutinizing corporate behavior, Occupy Toledo in due course discovered that the nobility of American corporations was unparalleled. The dearly departed realized that in these great United States of America, injustices are so few and far between, that it could no longer even occupy itself. Unavoidably, Occupy Toledo came to its senses, recognized its irrelevancy, and accepted that resistance to corporate rule is futile. Fortunately, in the end, Occupy Toledo had gained at least the good sense to crawl into a coroner’s office and die. Occupy Toledo died on April 1, 2012, due to apathy. Protesters were the Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2011. Gracefully, protesters like Occupy Toledo are stepping aside to make room for the inevitable Time Magazine Person of the Year for 2012: the Corporate Person, born of Citizens United, the true will of human persons across America. Occupy Toledo is survived by countless cousins around the country, many of whom have not achieved enlightenment, so they have not yet abandoned their vain struggles against corporate America, which is obviously too big too fail. The bad news is that Occupy Toledo is dead. The good news is that its condition is stable.”

Below is a picture of our own local activist doctor, Johnathon Ross, M.D., reading Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate and pronouncing its death.

Mock Funeral Doctor (Johnathon Ross, M.D.)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate from yesterday’s Mock Funeral:

“I hereby certify that Occupy Toledo, born October 10, 2011, has died on this day, April 1, 2012. The immediate cause of death was apathy. The underlying causes of death included: 1) an atrophied brain due to an overexposure to TV news and infotainment, talk radio, and so-called “reality” TV; 2) learned helplessness, due to an enlarged gullibility, making it susceptible to corporate propaganda and so-called political pundits; 3) a weakened constitution due to lack of exercising freedoms and widespread metastases of planetary consumption; and lastly, 4) pure exhaustion from running on the treadmills of trying to earn enough to maintain a decent household and fend off crushing debt.”

Of course, after the 1% overstepped their hand with their crass compulsions (by bidding on the Phoenix egg for their breakfast), the Phoenix’s prophecy was fulfilled:

“Hear this prophecy: The crass compulsion of the few to buy anything and everything is complete. The few dare to literally buy and consume the HOPE of the many. Because of this abomination of the few, the Phoenix’s prophecy is complete. The many, the 99%, Occupy Toledo, will be re-born one month from today in this same place. HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY OCCUPY TOLEDO. Join us on May 1, May Day, a world-wide general strike, for the re-occupation of Toledo. Thus speaks the Phoenix, ‘You, the many, the 99%, shall arise again and be free. Join together with the peoples of this land and from around the world, and the few, the 1%, will be vanquished.’ “

Below pictured is yours truly, Dan Rutt, alias “Top Pun” (it’s just, my pun name), with the HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY card placed over the tombstone announcing the re-occupation of Toledo.

Mock Funeral RE-BIRTHDAY CARD! (Dan Rutt as Funeral Director)

Here is some Toledo Blade coverage for the Mock Funeral.

If you’d like to read the Occupy Toledo Mock Funeral script, you can re-live the event, or get a greater taste of the drama of the day.  Here is a printer-friendly PDF version of the Mock Funeral of Occupy Toledo.