There’s a lot of outrage today about the government shutdown and Congress’ responsibility for the whole mess. Today isn’t the day for outrage, though; today, you should turn that outrage down to a simmer, let it keep, bottle it up. Save it for Tuesday, 4 November 2014…Election Day. Then let it flare up: vote out every single incumbent politician, be they Senator, Congressman, Governor, Mayor, all the way down to County Dog Catcher and Bottle-Washer. The people’s only check and balance against this kind of government incompetence is our vote…and we’ve been sorely lax in that duty for far too long now, judging by what’s happening in D.C.
This is not an easy thing to do, voting them all out. They will cajole, they will promise, they will threaten, all in an effort to prove to you that Your Elected Representative is not to blame…they are. The mythical They, those mysterious, unknowable, indeterminate others responsible for all the ills of our nation. And, of course, many will not do this, simply because they have always voted for Party X or Party Y and to give the other side a chance in their district is tantamount to propping open the very gates of Hell and shouting “Come on in, Satan!”
For some, this will mean voting for the Occupy, tree-hugging, climate-change-espousing, crazy vegetarian from the left who wants to throw away all the guns and save the spotted owl. For others, it will mean voting for the Tea Party, Bible-thumping, climate-change-denying, crazy corporate stooge from the right who wants to burn homosexuals at the stake and turn the clock back to 1950. Some will be lucky and there will be a third choice, Libertarian or Green. And most will not care and simply vote for the same old, same old, and go back to grumbling at the TV news channel-of-their-choice about how “those other guys” are all to blame.
But think about it: if even 10%–hell, just 5%, twice the usual standard deviation of most polls—vote the incumbent out, this will attract the politicians’ notice. And, come Election Day 2016, if this number grows (I dream of 15%, a lofty goal) and thousands more vote the incumbent out, they will have to take notice. Imagine what will happen if every two, four, six years, no matter what, a sizable fraction of the voting populace actually votes against the incumbent. Extremists on both sides might just have to reconsider their positions. They might move back towards the center. For the love of Murphy, they might just have to learn to compromise!
Or, well, the bees might all die and the resulting ecological collapse leaves our once-proud civilization in ruins.