On elections

Jonathan asks,

Are you planing on endorsing a candidate in either primary? It is easy to point out flaws and inconsistencies in the candidates especially when you come from an “outside the box” political perspective like we do. But how to turn our criticism into positive influence when we are at the polls, is a much more difficult task.

Endorse? No. To me, endorsement implies broad agreement, and the ability to take pride in supporting the candidate. I might be able to endorse someone like Tim Ryan were he running, but no one in the current crop (at least, not any of the major candidates).

However, I do plan to vote, and I haven’t decided for whom yet. I confess that I’ve been ignoring the race as much as possible thus far, out of strenuous opposition to this odious new development, the two-year Presidential campaign.

My general philosophy on voting has changed since the days when I always voted for third-party or write-in candidates. I used to view voting as a way to express my own political beliefs, so that anything other than near-perfect agreement with the candidate was a betrayal of my principles. I don’t believe that anymore. I’ve come to realize that with a few exceptions, we don’t elect leaders. Change happens in the people’s minds, in the communities, first, and only once that happens can we put enough pressure on the politicians to make them go along with it. Now, the question I ask of a candidate is not, “Are his/her positions progressive enough?” (they’re not — it’s the nature of the beast), but “Will he/she help to solidify whatever progress we’ve made in people’s minds, or undo it?” Whoever is elected, our task is the same: keep changing people’s minds, keep putting that pressure on.

How this applies to life issues is complicated, and will need to be the subject of several posts.

I’m officially tired of hearing about Mike Huckabee

I have a Google News Alert set up for the phrase “pro-life liberal”, because I’m interested in finding others like myself. Unfortunately, about two days after I set up the alert, Fred Thompson came along and labeled Mike Huckabee a “pro-life liberal”, and ever since my mailbox has been filling with the robotic repetition of this phrase by people who appear to have never actually talked to a real, live liberal.

I hereby offer my services to the anti-Huckabee right. (I’m generous that way.) The next time you think about mindlessly regurgitating this talking point, feel free to drop me — an honest-to-goodness pro-life liberal — a line. Don’t be afraid: I won’t take away your guns or force you to pray to Richard Dawkins. This is your chance to ask an actual, self-described liberal whether Huckabee has the goods. I think you’ll find that there might be just a few teeny, tiny areas of fundamental disagreement* between a demon liberal and old Huck.

(I even saw Huckabee — Baptist minister, creationist, and believer that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen — labeled a “secular liberal” the other day. Well, labeled in that dishonest Fox News way, where they can say, “We didn’t really call him one, we just asked if he was one.” It’s a world gone mad.)

* OK, so there’s nothing in that last link to actually disagree on, but it worries me that he wouldn’t answer.

Edited after posting to add some links.

Good news on the death penalty

New Jersey is moving to abolish the death penalty:

State lawmakers are now one vote away from repealing the death penalty in New Jersey.

The Senate yesterday, by the narrowest of margins, passed a bill to abolish the state’s capital punishment law. The 21-16 vote — a bare majority in the 40-member Senate — sets the stage for a historic floor vote Thursday in the Assembly.

If the Assembly approves the bill, Gov. Jon Corzine is prepared to act swiftly and sign the legislation, according to aides, perhaps as soon as Friday. That would make New Jersey the first state to legislatively abolish the death penalty.

Unfortunately, a majority of New Jersey voters polled oppose abolition. I wonder what the numbers would look like if all people in New Jersey had been sampled, rather than just voters; I suspect that this may be a case where the different demographics of voters and non-voters makes a significant difference.