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As we head into the last few days before the election, I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep in mind that the Other Party is My Party’s partner in politics. That is, the Parties are working on the (essentially political) project of governing; we have of course very different goals and methods, but we are in the same business. I don’t mean this in the sense that the two main parties are conspiring to keep the moneyed interests in power and prevent real democracy, but in the sense that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are partners in the basketball business.

We can look at it like this: roughly a third of the country will vote for Our Only President, roughly a third will vote for Willard “Mitte” Romney, and roughly a third will not vote. The first two have more in common with each other than with that final third of free riders: the voters are going out of their way to do something for our country.

I don’t want to overstate this. I do think that the Other Party, as many of them as are elected, will attempt to enact policies that are actively harmful. They will increase suffering, misery and death. I’m not kidding about that—I think that the Other Party’s policies, if enacted, will increase both the quantity and the severity of suffering, and that there are people who will die sooner. I think that My Party’s policies are better. That’s why I’m in My Party and not the Other Party.

I think—I have so little contact with people in the Other Party, but I think that they have much the same feeling about My Party—that is, that they feel that if their policies are enacted that they will decrease suffering, misery and death. In this, they are wrong. And I am right.

I’m not kidding, you know. I’m really not. This stuff is important—there are young women who will get or not get appropriate and inexpensive medical care from Planned Parenthood, there are soldiers who will come home on feet or on prosthetics, there are teachers who will have or not have enough textbooks, there are parents who will or will not be separated from their children by deportation, there are natural disasters for which FEMA will or will not be prepared, there are workers who will or will not be crushed by machines that violate OSHA standards, there are homeowners who will or will not lose their homes, there are children who will or will not get subsidized breakfast (and whose immune systems may be effected as a result), there are husbands who will or will not be legally married to their husbands and legal fathers to their children, there are prisoners who will or will not be tortured. Elections matter. My Party’s policies are different than those of the Other Party, and that matters. I will vote for My Party all the way down the line, and I think you should vote that way, too.

But I am aware that people who vote for the Other Party—most of them, at any rate—could come up with an equally damning list. I would consider that list nonsense (it would start with Death Panels, I imagine), and they would consider my list nonsense. My point isn’t that in such a situation we are each equally right and equally wrong—I am not kidding about being right—but that they are wrong in an attempt to serve the United States, and thus are my partners, just as my more wrong-headed co-workers are still my co-workers. They are my partners, and if you are joining us in this attempt to serve the country they are your partners as well.

It’s also true that we probably define United States differently, and there again I feel very strongly that my inclusive, aspirational, egalitarian idea of America is a better one. I am voting for that, too. And it’s also true that the Other Party has several people who clearly are not interested in minimizing suffering and death at all, or who at any rather prioritize that far below maintaining the power and influence of the powerful and influential. They even have people for whom the suffering of certain Americans is a positive benefit. Alas, My Party also has some lunatics in it. My current workplace, fortunately, doesn’t have such lunatics, but I honestly have worked in places with some lunatics that appeared to be actively attempting to increase misery around them. Sigh. I try to make sure that My Party doesn’t put those lunatics into leadership positions. I wish I felt confident that the Other Party did the same. And I’m sure most of them do—I know that some, at any rate, wish that we did a better job at it.

And so it goes. There are so many reasons why I support My Party and not the Other Party, so many ways in which I find the Other Party’s platform appallingly wrong and dangerous. I get furious at their leadership—Willard “Mitte” Romney, of course, and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and a hundred or so legislative officeholders, and another few dozen party leaders in the issue groups, the press and entertainment. And maybe another thousand or so of the craziest state legislators. But there will be seventy million other people voting on Tuesday for the Other Party (and seventy million voting for my party); the ones that infuriate me are a tiny percentage of that.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Nicely said.

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