Monday, October 3, 2022

Read the Labels

I know it seems like we hear about elections all year long but now it’s heating up in earnest. There’s only another month left until the mid-term elections, where either Republicans take one or more houses of Congress and grind bill passage to halt, or the Dems hold on and we continue the possibility of making incremental changes. Granted, it’s technically possible that Democrats not only hold on but gain enough seats to make Manchin and Sinema irrelevant, but hardly anyone thinks that’s likely.

I’d like to think that there will be enough anti-Anti-Abortion sentiment to surprise everyone like Kansas did, but we have to remember, that was a vote on an issue. It’s one thing to vote for or against an issue proposal, but another to vote for a member of the rival party, who your own party has been condemning as subhuman, Satanic, Communist, baby-killing, pedophiles. The abortion referendum didn’t have an “R” or a “D” next to it on the ballot, so there’s philosophical cover there.

Still, I have hope that enough people will be practical enough to disregard labels and vote their interests. But it’s hard to overcome the messaging.

I realized that Republicans running for office right now are taking notes from the Supreme Court nominees. SCOTUS noms will come in and dance around every hypothetical and specific, trying to say as little as possible about what they’d do on the bench, and then once they get in, they vote the way their nominator and the Federalist Society put them there to vote. They preach “stare decisis” right up until they start shit-canning all the prior decisis that gets in their way.

So few congressional hopefuls (outside the deep-red Bible belt) will come out and say that they favor a national ban on abortion. Instead, they’ll pay tribute to the “sanctity of life,” and other bullshit they don’t really mean, or can even define, and hope that by soft-pedaling it, the election goes the way it was gerrymandered to go. Then, they’ll be free to vote with the rest of the party on that abortion ban, cutting or privatizing Social Security, cutting Medicare and Medicaid, and rolling back regulations on pollution.

Or in other words, they’ll say whatever it takes to get elected and then go do whatever they wanted to do in the first place.

In theory, people in their district or state can vote them right back out, but that doesn’t happen very often. When you see polls about how low the regard is for the institution of Congress, it’s always, “Well, I like MY guy but the rest of them suck.” Then multiply that by the people in the other 49 states, and you have the reason why so many incumbents coast to victory every time.

But if the threat of a national abortion ban doesn’t mobilize people, women in particular, I don’t know what else it could possibly take. It doesn’t seem like the charge towards authoritarianism is moving the needle. Even the highly publicized and televised J6 hearings have barely made a dent. I don’t think they changed many minds. The court case deciding whether state legislatures can overturn elections isn’t getting much play either, and I find that terrifying.

You can see the drip-drip-drip of revelations from Republicans… national abortion ban, restricting contraception, hell, even repealing the amendment that gave women the right to vote… and that’s just what’s been said out loud (before getting shooshed by their more polished brethren, who know not to speak of such things in public until they’ve been elected. Or even then, only when absolutely necessary, like when casting their vote.) But just imagine the things that go unsaid. Women have to be getting nervous about their status in this country. If they’re not, they must not be paying attention, and are about to become very surprised when they wake up one day and realize they are second or third-class citizens, with fewer rights than cadavers.

For all the problems we have locally here in Maryland, they really do “voting” properly. Early this year, I signed up for mail-in voting, in perpetuity. And I don’t even have to mail the ballot back; there are drop boxes all over the county. We have one about a mile down the road from us.

Last week I received an email from the Board of Elections:

They also email me a confirmation when they’ve received my ballot. I like that transparency and it gives me confidence that things are running well somewhere. Although getting them counted on time is still an issue. Like I mentioned a couple posts ago, the GOP nominee for Governor filed suit to stop drop-off and mail-in ballots from being counted before Election Day. (Actually, the current law says they can’t start counting these votes until two days after Election Day. It’s a remnant from before the demand for mail-in voting exploded from COVID.)

His suit was thrown out, but he is appealing the decision. Of course. That’s how far they’re prepared to go, just to maintain an excuse to challenge results they don’t like. And I’m confident they’re not going to like this one. When the sitting Republican governor of a deep blue state refuses to endorse his party’s nominee, it just shows how far from center this guy is.

One idea that keeps getting tossed around is making Election Day a holiday, to facilitate voting. On the surface that might sound fine, but it would be an ineffectual gesture, especially if the goal is to provide easier voting opportunities to those who need them.

The problem is that those who need the time won’t be the ones off work. Look at our biggest holidays… Christmas and Thanksgiving. Are there still stores open? Some are. Gas stations are open. Convenience stores are open. Many restaurants are open. Now consider that this will in no way as big as Christmas and Thanksgiving; it will probably be more like Veterans’ Day or MLK Day. What is closed on those days? Government and banks. All stores, gas stations, and restaurants are open. I bet Bezos doesn’t shut down his Amazon facilities, not while people are at home (or work) buying stuff online. Those are the people who need the time to go vote.

And yes, employers are obligated to make sure their staff has time to vote. And that works out for office workers like me, (back when voted in person.) I always had time to go vote, which I’d do first thing in the morning, on my way to work. If I was late, it was cool. I had my “I Voted” sticker. But picture the person who has two or three jobs. Each employer says “You have the whole rest of the day to vote, just make sure you’re here on time,” regardless of the fact that the worker then has to go to the next job, or just home to take care of the family.

So yeah, it’s a nice idea, but it’s pointless. Unless the point is to make it easier for those who already have it the easiest.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

The commercials for those running I wish were illegal. We have two types down here, #1 is loud, filled with hate and lies. I mean did you know Biden hired 11k irs staff to take your money? Actual lies allowed to be said on tv. Out right lie. They don't even talk about what they'll do it is all hate and fear based. Then the other commercials talk about their beliefs what they hope to accomplish and HOW. No one is yelling. Wanna guess who was who? I admit this is when I really hate living here@

bluzdude said...

I was wondering how you're adapting to the political culture in your new home. Sounds as bad as I imagined it. If the Right wasn't engaged in misdirection, they'd have no direction at all. Biden made clear that the new IRS agents (which were badly needed after TFG and his buddies left the agency to whither and die) were being put on to go after the big tax dodgers, not Joe Middleclass. That's where the money is, isn't it? So naturally the Republicans go on TV and claim the opposite. Cuz why not? It's not like the people they're trying to reach are going to check facts.

I don't like the IRS any more than anyone else, but if we want to live in a country that provides public services, there has to be a mechanism to collect the money. Just ask the people in SW Florida how important federal help is right now.

bluzdude said...

I imagine there are a great many words for which you don't know the definition.