Vote early and often–legally

This is part of a series I intend to write on the issues of civics:

  • How should government work?
  • How does government work (or not)?
  • What can we do about it?

These essays are intended to form the basis for a series of digital textbooks on civics for students in OLPC XO and other one-to-one computing deployments. It will of course be necessary to have others contribute, discussing the issues in their own countries, states, provinces, and localities.

A lot of people in the United States claim that their individual vote doesn’t count for anything in elections, so why bother? This is of course an idea much promoted by certain political interests who do everything they can to motivate their own people to the polls, and everything else they can to discourage or prevent the opposition from voting. Today is not the day for me to discuss vote suppression tactics (gerrymandering, illegal purges of voter registrations, allowing election officials to serve in candidates’ campaigns at the highest levels, outright lies and crimes, shortening early voting periods, burdensome and discriminatory voter ID requirements, making it harder for the other side to register and vote in general, etc.) in spite of their great importance. Yes, we need to help individuals vote, and we need to address laws and criminal activities interfering with voting, not just in the US, but everywhere.

But today, I want to encourage Americans to just go and vote on the issues. You do this every day, regardless. You vote implicitly for the interests of various businesses every time you spend money with them, or with others up or down their supply chains. You vote by tuning in to television, radio, and Internet broadcasts and social media. You vote by participating in politics (formally, in the activities of party organizations or issue organizations, or informally, by speaking to your fellow voters or to non-voters, including children, as the case may be), or by not participating, as you choose. You vote by making the effort to be informed about the issues, or by not making that effort, or by relying on sources of misinformation, as you choose. You vote by reading history, or learning enough of statistics and Internet search techniques to tell whether you are being fed something like the truth, or utter rot, or by learning the language of any region of political significance, or by anything else you do to increase your understanding of the world and the people in it.

In addition to all of that, you can vote explicitly on any number of issues at any time. You can sign petitions put forward by all manner of organizations, or propose petitions of your own, and you can vote on issues directly using the telephone, the mails, or electronic communications with your representatives in legislatures and administrations. You can vote on legal issues by supporting organizations that file lawsuits or amicus briefs in lawsuits brought by others, either against violations of law, or against unconstitutional laws.

In particular, you can vote on issues at the White House, and give President Obama ammunition in his dealings with Congress, and in his re-election campaign. Or, if you prefer, you can take note of the petitions on the White House Web site, and organize counter-petitions in favor of other positions or other candidates. It is, to a fair degree, a free country no matter what some doom-crying politicians may claim. Here is an anti-Obama petition from the White House site:

Rescind the HHS Mandate Requiring Catholic Institutions to Provide Insurance Covering Contraception to Their Employees

This blog is in favor of ending poverty around the world, and with it oppression of many kinds, government corruption, unnecessary death and disability from treatable and preventable disease and other calamity, and even war. That makes me a Progressive, at least. There is no point in me pretending to be neutral on the issues of the day. So here are a few petitions I have just signed, in no special order:

That’s not all, but it will do for the purpose. I should note that you can ask to see petitions by category, and you can search for particular words in petition statements.

What would you like to tell the President, his advisors, his opponents, and the world? Don’t be shy. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t matter. Only a few hundred thousand people have voted there so far, so your influence is out of proportion to your number. And let any students that you come into contact with know that they can do the same, without having to reach legal voting age for official elections.

Added later:

I have created a new petition requesting Federal funding for a program to create Open Education Resources for all subjects at all levels, giving the reasons that readers of this blog are familiar with. We need 150 votes to get this to be visible to everybody on the White House Web site. Please vote, and pass it on. I’m off to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere to spread the word.

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About mokurai

Generalist; End poverty at a profit for all
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One Response to Vote early and often–legally

  1. “It will of course be necessary to have others contribute, discussing the issues in their own countries, states, provinces, and localities.”

    Alright, are you familiar with the National Initiative for Democracy proposal? See http://ni4d.us

    Of particular importance, I think, is understanding the different types of public consultation, see http://ni4d.us/en/consultation

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