}

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I voted, 2016 edition

A photo posted by arthur_amerinz (@arthur_amerinz) on

Today I posted my ballot for the US Federal elections, as I always do. I had no hesitations or momentary pause as I marked my ballot because I’d made up my mind months ago. And, even though my native Illinois is a blue state, it was still very important that I vote. So, I did.

During the primary season I said all along that I’d vote for the Democratic nominee whoever he or she was. To be honest, though, if Jim Webb had been the nominee, it may have given me pause, especially if George Pataki (who?!) the only non-extremist in the entire Republican field, had won his party’s nomination (as IF!). But when it became evident that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, I was fine with that. In fact, I didn’t vote against Donald, I voted FOR Hillary Clinton.

At one time, like too many American voters, I was a Hillary sceptic: I believed many of the negative things I’d heard about her for no other reason than that those things had been repeated so often that I just assumed they were true. It turned out, they weren’t.

During the primary season, I decided to start looking into all those things I’d assumed about her, and I found out that what I’d been told ranged from the merely misleading to outright fabrication. The more I read, the angrier I became—first, that I’d been lied to, but mostly at myself for having been so gullible as to believe all the equum stercore I’d been served up over the years—and by folks at both ends of the political spectrum.

It turned out that this was only the beginning, and even after the nominations were all finished, I’d see new allegations lobbed at Hillary, always from the Right, sure, but too often from the Left, too. But, those were the same old, same old, ranging—once again—from the merely misleading to outright fabrication.

Through this process, I began to appreciate what a good president Hillary can be. I also knew that whether she is or not will depend in no small measure on which party controls the US Congress. If Democrats retake the US Senate, she’ll be able to deliver on most of what we want her to do, including helping to create a far more moderate US Supreme Court by appointing a liberal or two or three. If Democrats manage to re-take the US House, too, she can do even more.

If one or both doesn’t happen, but it’s very close, then she has the track record of working “across the aisle”, as Americans say, to forge a compromise. Whether thats’s possible or not would be determined by how close the two parties are in numbers. Already John McCain has pledged that if they control the Senate, Republicans will refuse to confirm ANY Supreme Court justices Hillary Clinton nominates (then, his spokesperson backpedalled so fast that it almost made his lying spin believable; what the hell happened to McCain?! When did he become so grumpy and negative all the time?)

I did my part on that front, too: I voted for the Democrat, Tammy Duckworth, to be the next US Senator from Illinois, replacing a Republican. I think she’ll do a great job: She’s progressive on all the right issues, but not in lock-step with the Leftward side of Left on everything—just like Illinois.

I also voted to re-elect my US Representative, Democrat Jan Schakowsky. She’s been a great US Representative and I was proud to vote for her again.

This is the first time in my life in which I've vote only for women. That's notable not just because it's never happened before, but because it never could happen before.

The fact I vote raises eyebrows for some Americans all over the political spectrum. Why, they wonder, should I be allowed to vote? The answer is simple: Because I’m an American citizen.

I believe I have a duty to vote because failing to do so would disrespect the ancestors and family members who fought to preserve our rights and democracy. But there’s another quintessentially American reason, too: No taxation without representation.

The USA is one of the few countries in the world that requires its citizens living overseas to report their income to the US Government, no matter how little it may be, no matter what country it was earned in, or how much tax was paid in that country, for as long as they live. It’s absolutely un-American to force people to do that but deny them any say in how tax laws are written or how tax money is spent.

Even so, there are Americans who think the right to vote should be denied to US Citizens living outside the USA, no matter how short the time they’re away or the reason they’re overseas (military personally being the only exception—of course). I can even imagine a sort of dystopian future in which teabaggers/Trumpettes legislate to remove our voting rights—especially because voter suppression is one thing Republican politicians do better than almost anything else.

So, one day I may lose the right to vote in US Federal elections. But until and unless that happens, you can be sure I’ll exercise my right. And to those who think I shouldn’t? Well, they’re welcome to eat all that equum stercore.

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