Once upon a time, I was an engineer and a scientist... till I realized this civilization will pay me more to be interesting, than to be right. Ever since, I’ve made a living by poking at things people take for granted -- through novels or nonfiction or punditry about the future. My aim: to offer a skewed or unusual angle on things, knowing that some of these perspectives will seem “crackpot.” No matter, if fraction also prove useful. Anyway, at least they don’t burn guys like me at the stake, anymore!
So, in that spirit -- poking away at assumptions -- let’s begin examining some under-appreciated issues of our current political season. Matters that might make a small difference if someone paid attention. We’ll start with a simple action item. Not the most urgent, but one where time is running especially short.
----- Under-appreciated Issue #1: Students and absentee ballots.
Millions of young Americans are more involved than ever. Voter registration in the under-25 age demographic has risen sharply. It also tilts heavily democratic. Yet, if history is any candidate Barack Obama will be lucky if 40% of these people vote.
Another factor: disproportionate numbers of politically active young people -- university students -- cluster either in states that are already blue, or in college towns that have been gerrymandered to limit their effect upon state offices and Congressional representation.
Are there ways for Democrats might help mobilize this friendly, but marginalized age group? Surely they have activists busy on many campuses. One can hope they’re also busy near military bases and urban zones young people cluster. These areas should get heavy get-out-the-vote action, come election day. (And volunteers are needed.)
Far more useful would be to press hard, right now, for young people to get absentee ballots, vote early, and mail them in. Early and relentless nagging may be more effective than a flurry of effort at the last minute.
Even better? Students in already-liberal college towns might register instead in their home districts and vote absentee there. Especially if home lies in a battleground state, like Ohio, Michigan or Florida. And even more so, if it has competitive races for Congress or State Assembly.
Yes, this adds a level of complication, so it should be urged only upon those who are reliable -- those who care enough to maximize their voting impact, and who will follow through without nagging. Still, doesn’t that describe a lot of Generation Next? Anyway, how many of us get this option? To pick between two residence areas and vote where it might have the greatest impact?
Drawback: There’s little time to act on this. Contact the young people you know! Extort that vow to register and vote. Then follow up. Even better, contact your local university political club and ask what help they need. And if none of these things seem practical, well, there’s always money. Send some.
----- Under-appreciated Issue #2: The “Ostriches.”
It is a matter I’ve raised extensively elsewhere. Each of us knows republicans of the sane/decent type, whose conservatism is sincere and worthy of respect, the way most people admired Barry Goldwater for his principled adherence to prudence, sobriety, constitutionalism, international caution and love of country. Some of these decent conservatives have awakened - or partly-wakened - to the way that their movement has been hijacked, for a generation, by forces that Barry Goldwater angrily denounced, just before he died. Forces that have transformed a commitment from:
* prudence to recklessness
* accountability to secrecy
* fiscal discretion to spendthrift profligacy
* consistency to hypocrisy
* civility to nastiness
* international restraint to recklessness
* efficiency to no-tomorrow wastrelness
* dedicated cleanliness to filthy habits
* logic to unreason.
Is it worthwhile trying to rouse that decent, sweet uncle of yours, out of his state of “ostrich” denial? Or your gracious but delusional aunt to finally concede that her beloved party has been hijacked by a gang of thieves? Yes, it will be a hard sell. We’ve seen that long lists of facts are useless against thick-skinned rationalizations.
Still, remember, one converted ostrich can sometimes become ten. A seed-crystal, catalyzing others. In any event, I have created a couple of sites. See The Ostrich Papers: How it will take ALL Decenet Americans to Restore Decency to America.
For more “ammo” that anyone can use, in relentlessly yanking on their favorite, beloved deniers, hoping to eventually get their heads out of the sand, see A Cheat Sheet for Ostrich Hunters: What would you have said if Bill Clinton....
Enough for now. This is just part one in a lengthy series that will briefly touch on issues that seem to be under-examined. You thoughts and comments are welcome.
PS... folks on this blog, please also visit the new/occasional one at OpenSalon and help boost the numbers there!