First of all, this is not a local election, whatever your candidates for Congress and even for statehouse have been telling you. We have just lived through six years of one-party government, and we've seen the damage that can do. Congress under Republican leadership has ceased to function as an independent branch challenging and investigating the actions of the president, and has instead become an enabler of presidential abuse of power and of the undermining of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That means we have to restore at least some measure of opposition in the Congress for the sake of saving the country from a slide into one-party dictatorship, and that means voting for the Democrats, even Democrats who are worse than their Republican opponent. I'd say different if your district had a third-party candidate with a chance of winning, since that person could be expected to vote against Republican rule too, once in office, but aside from Vermont's Bernie Sanders, I don't know of any such cases, such is the sad condition of third party politics in America.
It's equally important to vote Democratic for state legislative candidates and for governor, because the legislatures, in almost all states, are where congressional district lines get drawn up. We saw last year how the Republicans have used their power in state legislatures, particularly in Texas, to eliminate Democratic districts and replace them with Republican ones. In that state, such gerrymandering gave the Republicans five extra House seats before an election was even held.
Second, think about the big issues: human survival on the earth, mass murder in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, the bankrupting and deindustrialization of the U.S. economy, the destruction of American constitutional democracy and the reversal of a 230-year history of expanding liberty.
Human Survival: It is increasingly clear that the earth is facing a catastrophe because of rampant use of fossil fuels, and the prime offender is the United States. There is only a narrow window of opportunity to at least moderate this threat to humanity and to life on the planet, yet the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have refused to even acknowledge the threat, and have squandered six years that could have made a huge difference. (Isn't it kind of ludicrous to worry about aborted fetuses and stem cells when government policies are currently threatening the survival of the human race?)
Mass Murder: Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq--a nation that clearly posed no immediate threat to the U.S. or its own neighbors in 2003--was the worst of war crimes, a "Crime against Peace" under the Nuremburg Charter, and a crime under US law because it was based upon lies, fraud and deception. It has led to the unnecessary and criminal deaths of nearly 2900 American troops, the maiming of another 25,000, and the deaths of as many as 650,000 innocent Iraqi civilians--largely at the hands of U.S. weapons. Many of those weapons, like the illegal white phosphorus and napalm bombs used in Fallujah and elsewhere, The thousands of tons of depleted uranium shells and bombs, the millions of rounds of anti-personnel bombs and shells, and the helicopter and fixed-wing gunships that spray wide areas indiscriminately with saturation fire, are the very "weapons of mass destruction" which we claimed we were going to war to prevent. The same weapons have been widely used in Afghanistan against the people of one of the most primitive societies in the world. These are massive crimes, and they won't stop until the Congress brings them to a halt--and calls the criminal in the White House who initiated them to account. (Remember, neither one of these wars is doing a thing to challenge or defend against terrorism.)
Economy: In six short years, this president has turned the national budget from a surplus into six years of record deficits, by ramming through the Republican Congress tax breaks that primarily benefit oil companies and the richest 1 percent of Americans. As for trade policy, thanks to Bush and the Republican-led Congress, which has made exporting jobs and boosting imports the centerpiece of its economic policy, the U.S. now owes more than $1 trillion to our rival, China, and is shipping more than that annually to Middle Eastern dictatorships like Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iran to buy oil for vehicles that get 12 miles per gallon or less. Sure there are plenty of Democrats sucking at the corporate teat who are voting for those same policies, but with Republicans in total control, the issues aren't even being raised. We need only to look at the unprecedented corruption that has swept over the Republican Congress, and seeped under the doors of the White House, into the Oval office, the Vice President's office, and the office of Karl Rove, the president's closest adviser, to see why this is happening, and what needs to be done. (Any token tax break you got from Bush and the Republicans was long ago eaten up by the higher gas prices caused by the Iraq War and by higher interest rates caused by their budget and trade deficits.)
Freedom and Democracy: President Bush has claimed for himself the right to ignore laws passed by Congress, which he erases with the stroke of a pen in what he calls "signing statements" saying that as commander in chief he is above the law and the courts. He has used his rubber-stamp Republican Congress to ram through laws eliminating the right to trial and the right to a lawyer, has given himself the power to declare any American to be a unlawful combatant" and supporter of terrorism, with no rights whatsoever, has approved the use of torture and immunized himself and his gang of conspirators from prosecution for past torture. He has even slipped through a measure making it easy for him to declare martial law anywhere in the nation he deems there to be "public disorder." With these laws and these crimes unchallenged, we no longer live in a democracy--only the hollow husk of a former democracy, which could be crushed in a moment. Only a revived Congress, led by a revitalized opposition party, can challenge this dire threat to our freedoms and traditional tripartite government. (The country you learned about in your junior high civics class barely exists anymore, and won't if you don't stand up for liberty and democracy now, and stop buying the scare stories about fighting terrorism. Remember Ben Franklin, who warned that those who surrender liberty to seek security "will end up with neither.")
This election is a turning point.
If we turn out Republicans from the leadership of the Congress, there is at least a chance that, with a strong public campaign of pressure, we can rouse timid and somnolent Democrats to protect liberty, restore Democracy, impeach the president, take back the government, start rescuing the economy, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and start seriously confronting global warming. If we don't, we may not get another chance. Republicans, having brought us this close to fascism and ruin, are not going to let the public get this close to unhorsing them again if they manage to hang on to power.
None of this is to suggest that having Democrats win this election, even by a significant margin, will fix things. Too many Democrats over the last six years, or even the last 14 years, have been fully complicit in too many of the above crimes and atrocities and attacks on freedom and the Constitution. It's going to take constant struggle and constant pressure to make them act like a true party of opposition, and like the party of the people that the Democrats once claimed to be.
But we can't even begin that difficult struggle unless we toss out the Republicans from Congress.
So think about all this when you vote Tuesday.
And make sure you know how to vote on the new computer screen systems that are being foisted on most of us.
Don't let the bastards steal this one!