Sunday, January 1, 2012

Voting Without Passion | 2012 Election

Thoughts from an Independent Fiscal Conservative -

- By: Larry Walker, Jr. -

"What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?” ~ Mathew 11:7 [New Living Translation]

You either live in a red state, or a blue state. You are either black, or you are white. You are either a millionaire, or you’re in the middle-class. You are either a Republican, or you’re a Democrat. You will either cast your vote for the Republican nominee, or for the Democratic nominee. There is no in-between; there are no other alternatives. So make your choice today. And if you have to hold your nose while voting, then hold your nose and choose between Red and Blue, because that is your patriotic duty. That’s pretty much the way things are, or at least the way some candidates, and propagandist media outlets would have us believe.

Now, back to earth – The truth is you can vote for anyone you want. You are not confined to choosing between the classic Red and Blue. There are literally dozens of people running for president, from Libertarians to Communists. Also, many have forgotten that having a legal right to vote, doesn’t mean one must vote. You have a legal right to drive a car, if you are of age, and secure the appropriate license and insurance, yet not everyone chooses to drive. Some people rely on taxis, limousines or public transportation. No one is forced to drive a car, but everyone has the right to drive. You also have God-given rights to get married, to have children, to buy a home or other property, but not everyone exercises these rights. Thus no person may compel another to vote. Neither are we limited to crawling into those little boxes that politicians and media propagandists have so allotted.

Passion – Each and every vote for a presidential candidate, for which there is no passion, is a waste of one’s legal right. If you are not passionate about a candidate, or a political party, and merely follow the dictates of a third-person, you have not really exercised your right. You might as well have stayed home. Last time I checked, refusing to vote isn’t a sin, but rather a vote against the establishment. I haven’t voted in every single presidential race, or in every single primary. For example, I didn’t vote in the 2008 presidential primary, because I felt no passion toward any of the candidates. I certainly felt nothing for John McCain (and still don’t), and although I felt a little something for Mike Huckabee, the bond wasn’t strong enough to compel me to the local precinct to show my support (although I nearly did).

I did vote in the 2008 presidential race, but my vote was cast more against one candidate than for the other. In other words, I wanted to send a message that I was against the blue party, but I wasn’t really for the red party. Then as today, I feel as though my 2008 presidential vote was merely thrown away. In retrospect, I wish I would have turned my back on the status quo, and supported a third-party candidate. But that was then, and this is now.

"Pathos (Greek for 'suffering' or 'experience') is often associated with emotional appeal. But a better equivalent might be 'appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination.' An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the [candidate's] point of view--to feel what the [candidate] feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer'--to feel pain imaginatively....

Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the [candidate] are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the [voter]. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the [candidate's] message moves the audience to decision or action." ~ Derived from: Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Writing Arguments. 4th Edition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1998, 81-82.

Independent – Since I come from a family of left-leaning independents, having been reared as a free-thinker meant I had to find my own way in the political arena. My parents never attempted to influence my political views. At the age of 20, my very first vote in a presidential race was for Ronald Reagan. I didn’t vote for Reagan because he represented a particular political party (I could have cared less about all that at the time), but rather because I heard the man speak, and I was touched by the emotional and the imaginative impact of his message. In fact, I was inspired enough to change my college major to political science (although it would later change), which led to my interviewing local politicians and working as a volunteer at a local voting precinct.

So how in the world was Ronald Wilson Reagan ever able to reach out and touch a 20-year old black male, from North-Central California, who was dropping in and out of Junior College, and on his way to a life of despair? For me, pathos is the critical element, and it trumps the old red or blue, black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democratic rhetoric in any era. If your message isn't transcending political ideology, or if you're still trying to convince the public as to why you're qualified to hold office, you really don't have a message, so perhaps you should do us all a favor and just drop out.

Since I officially quit the Republican Party in 2007, I have been a free-agent when it comes to politics. I can vote for whomever I please. I am not bound by the strings of media propagandists. I can vote for anyone who is on the ballot, or any qualified write-in candidate. Nobody will tell me who to vote for, and no one will constrain me from casting my vote for the candidate or party of my choosing. I am free, I am independent, and I will vote, or not vote, according to my conscience. I hope you will do the same.

Clueless? – For the political class, passion is achieved through persuasion, by appealing to voter's emotions. It’s not just about ethos, and logos. So you are credible. So you can make a logical argument. Big deal! Yet you have not persuaded independents, such as me, because you have failed to connect with my sympathies and imagination. What we have today is a president who lacks logic and credibility, but who can win on passion, versus a group of candidates, strong in the former, but woefully lacking in the latter. Thus I may vote in the 2012 presidential race, or I may sit this one out, or perhaps I will send a message this time, by throwing my support to a third-party candidate. I’m not sure about that yet, but one thing that I am sure of is that until I hear a message which fires on all three cylinders, I will not enter into the wilderness, but will rather work to expose every weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind.

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