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For anyone who thinks that their vote doesn’t count, just look at yesterday’s results: Democratic control of Congress essentially hinges on approximately 7000 votes in Virginia, or an approximate .3% difference, based on the latest results posted in the NY Times. And for anyone who doesn’t think that there is a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans or between Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert or between the completely corrupt guy and the partially corrupt guy, I will say that you are naïve and idealistic at best and ignorant at worst. There are no large differences between the Democrats and the Republicans, but there are enough small differences to make a difference. Each and every small difference, for that matter, makes a difference.
Our system of government can work and is remarkably resilient. When it doesn’t work, which is often, I would say the fault is not in our system, but in ourselves. We are not a nation of reactionaries, fundamentalists, and conservative evangelicals, but we seem so because not enough progressives and moderates make their voices heard. Not enough citizens keep informed, not enough vote, and not enough vote carefully and conscientiously. Too many are cynical and apathetic. Too many are completely indifferent. I wager that there are many more moderates and progressives in this country than conservatives, but not enough who vote, let alone get involved with the political process.
As citizens of the US we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to the world, because US policy affects the entire world, and in dramatic and astonishing ways, as we have seen in the Middle East. When we are indifferent in a system like ours, we are basically handing power over to those who would use fear-mongering and propaganda to promote their corrupt, misguided, and self-serving agendas. And the consequence is that people in Iraq and Palestine suffer. Soldiers die. The poor suffer. The earth and the environment suffers and innocent creatures suffer, and we are each and every one of us responsible for it.
As Montesquieu said, “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” We already have a prince that is ruling an oligarchy, and yesterday’s election results are the first step toward limiting any further damage to the public welfare that he can continue to cause. It is really that simple.