Breaking my political silence.
By Erik J. Heels
First published 10/10/2008; ErikJHeels.com; publisher: GiantPeople.
I am an independent voter and have never been a member of any political party. I have avoided talking about politics on this blog. Today I have added a “politics” category (for those who want to avoid it) and I explain why I’m voting for Barack Obama for president.
I typically vote for the smartest ticket. Some years, the decision is easier than others. In 1992 and 1996, the decision was easy. In 2000, the decision was difficult, and each party’s vice-presidential candidate made the decision even more difficult. Dick Cheney clearly smartened up the George W. Bush ticket (but Cheney proved to be both smart and evil). And Joe Lieberman clearly dumbed down the Al Gore ticket (and Lieberman can’t even decide which party he’s in and continues to propose some of the dumbest laws ever written). So in 2000, I voted for neither party. Yeah, you can blame the statistical tie vote in 2000 on me (or on the VP choices).
In 2008, I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I believe that Obama is the smarter of the two presidential candidates, and I believe that Biden is the smarter of the two vice presidential candidates.
But this year, I’m considering more than the candidates’ intelligence. I’m considering the principles they stand for. The Obama/Biden ticket is not only smarter, it is more principled, more honorable, more fair, and more patriotic than the alternative. Even though I would personally benefit more from the proposed Republican tax plan, I am voting Democratic for the good of the America that I love and took an oath to defend.
Each party stretches the truth during an election year, but never before have I seen one party cross the line from truth-stretching to outright lying. The New York Times called the Republican campaign a Blizzard of Lies. No matter how the election turns out, this campaign of lies will be a sad footnote in the history of presidential politics, the story of Republicans pandering to the lowest common denominator, of sewing FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), and sacrificing civility on the alter of politics. And although I hate the lies, I will fight for their right to speak them.
If you believe in free speech as defined in the Constitution, then we must accept that others will speak words with which we strongly disagree. We must simultaneously defend the rights of those who speak lies to speak while also speaking the truth ourselves, so that the best ideas survive in the marketplace of free ideas. I served in the Air Force and took an oath to defend the Constitution and the values for which it stands. I am proud that I served until honorably discharged, rather than resigning my commission when faced with politics and policies with which I disagreed.
Here’s some free speech that I disagree with (via Eric Burke) (and which prompted me to write this article):
And here’s some free speech that I agree with. Barack Obama is not a Muslim. “Muslim” and “terrorist” are not synonyms. Obama is not a terrorist and is not “pallin’ around with terrorists” as the Republican vice-presidential candidate has claimed. Here’s what MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had to say about all of the lies.
Some people prefer to let their party think for them. Others prefer to let their church think for them. Not me. I prefer to think independently. Democracy, I believe, requires us to question our leaders and to think independently. I encourage you to check the facts and make up your own mind. Here are some nonpartisan places you can go for the truth:
- FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan nonprofit consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
- OpenSecrets.org is a nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.
- Project Vote Smart is a national research organization founded by national leaders such as Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Michael Dukakis and Newt Gingrich. It is funded entirely through foundation grants and the individual contributions of members.
And here are two great quotes supporting the difficult – but important – notion of a marketplace of free ideas.
“The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., (dissent, Abrams v. United States, 1919), US jurist (1841-1935)
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about ‘the land of the free.'”
– Michael Douglas (channeling Holmes) as President Andrew Shepherd in the movie “The American President” (1995)
May the best ideas win.
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