The Presidential Election

I’m amused by the grand pageant that is a presidential race. I follow along halfheartedly, thinking of the various personalities as characters on some TV dramedy, and just trying to see where the story goes. There are some I like more than others, and many I truly despise.

That said, I’m not voting. I haven’t in many years.

Now, knowing that any political post is quickly followed up by people saying “Oh, but you’re wrong!”, I’m going to write about this anyway.

The foundation of my decision not to vote is that participation in an election is entrusting one’s authority to make decisions to another party. Voting is giving sanction to the government, telling them by casting a vote I endorse the form of government and its ability to make decisions in my place. Voting is also taking on responsibility for the actions of the government. If I had voted for a senator who voted for the Patriot Act? I’d have given them the authority to do that. Voting is giving away the right to self-determination and taking responsibility for the theft of that right from others.

A further reason for not voting in a presidential race is that the President of the USA is the commander of the military forces of the country. As a pacifist I cannot say, “Oh, I’d like this person to be in charge of the murder of people.” No. I will not choose the person who has access to that little red button. I’ll settle for nothing less than the destruction of that button. I won’t try to choose someone who will use their military might with restraint. That is a sanction of the use of said force AT ALL. I won’t compromise.

Is Dubya a psychopathic warmonger? Yes. Without question.

Was Clinton better?

Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Bill Clinton, December 16, 1998

Sounds like a familiar justification to me. Less psychopathic? Yes. Still evil? Yes.

In keeping with the pacifist reasons for not voting, years ago I came to realize that the central principal of any form of government is violence. There is very little difference between Capitol Hill and the Mafia. Deviate from approved behavior and we are met with thugs threatening or using violence. Refuse to pay for protection (is there a difference between taxes and protection money?) and the thugs are at our door, stealing and brutalizing if we don’t comply. Choosing nicer bosses for the thugs does not change the centrality of violence to government, and sanctioning government by voting is saying that this violence is okay.

I’m not going to offer up my power to make decisions, my power to work for good in the world. I’m not going to say that violence is okay when the majority agrees on who should direct it. No. Not me. I will not vote.

Transphobia and Feminism

I’ve been reading Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw, and it’s really a wonderful book. I think it works much better as a memoir and personal exploration of gender than it does as theory, but I like the blending of the two. I’m less interested in dry argumentation than I am people’s stories of how gender affects life.

One thing that’s really thrown me for a loop, though, is the idea of transphobic feminists. I mean, I’d heard about Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and their policies of gender assignation and exclusion, and part of me can at least accept the right free association that they’re practicing even if I disagree with them, but some of the things that certain feminist writers have written about transgendered people was even more infuriating. For example, Janice Raymond writes:

All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.

It seems to me that Raymond has a problem determining where she stops and others begin (thank you Elizabeth for that phrase). Claiming that self-identification and owning oneself is an act of violence against others is in(s)ane. It is, it seems to me, a claim of ownership of the identities and bodies of others. How that falls under the same philosophical heading as “The radical notion that women are people too” I simply can’t understand.

Of course any philosophy that is based on preserving binary gender is not going to resonate much with me anyway.

God commands you to read this

Mark Morford gives us this amazing account of his encounter with God

There I was, calmly enjoying some Thanksgiving leftovers and offering some divine gratitude for this truly fine ’04 Pinot when suddenly boom, there was God, right across the table, helping Himself to some stuffing and the choicest hunks of dark meat, which He totally knows is my favorite. Clearly, He wanted my attention.

“Oh hey, it’s you,” I said, feigning nonchalance, as if this sort of thing happens to me every day (I always like to throw God off a bit, given how He’s so accustomed to those melodramatic, fall-to-your-knees-in-terror reactions He always gets from the nutball evangelicals whenever He swings through their nightmares in his classic fire/brimstone persona. That always cracks Him up). “What’s up?”

“Oh, you know, same ol’ same ol’,” God muttered, His voice sounding like an ocean playing a cello concerto in a black hole.

Take some time to read the rest of it. I think you’ll like it.

Also give this Chanukah faux pas a look. Someone really didn’t do their research!

Queerness

Rev. Debra Haffner writes:

I wonder what the impact would be if all of us working for sexual justice would label ourselves as “queer”.

It’s something I’ve wondered about plenty of times myself. While I’m a generally heterosexual male I’m also writing here from a pro-kink, pro-poly, pro-porn, pro-sex, feminist (and still decidedly Christian) point of view. I tell ya, I don’t feel “straight”.

But I’ve long hesitated to apply the term queer to myself, even it its modified forms of genderqueer or heteroqueer because I don’t want to pretend that I, as a generally heterosexual person, can know what my queer family really lives through. It would be presumptuous and bordering on disrespectful to put myself in the same class as them.

So then how do folks like me describe ourselves in shorthand? I mean, I’ve got those bullet points down the right hand side of the blog, but those are kinda hard to work into conversation, much less fit on a bumper sticker.