I have come to understand that the Peoples of these United States, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the seductive life style available here, have abrogated their roles as citizens of a Democratic Republic. Even those who still engage in the voting process believe that this is their sole and primary duty to the state.
The worst outcome of this lack of real civic responsibility is that they are seduced by those who claim to represent their best interests, It is far easier to believe the words of someone claiming to assume their own burdens than it is to assume them yourself. Civic responsibility neither begins nor ends with the voting booth. As I began with Thoreau allow me to cite his words again:
"I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, cooperate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless... There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and the war (with Mexico), who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them. "
A sort of prelude to the "think globally, act locally" catchphrase of the revolutionary sixties, in my opinion, and as meaningful in these days of the loss of many of our basic rights because of our refusal to do our duty. As I re-read Civil Disobedience, from which these quotes emanate, I was struck by the relevance of them to the political climate of today.
That the majority of the electorate fails to even cast a ballot is outrageous, yet understandable in the light of the way we are so easily manipulated, today by the forces of conservatism, especially those within the Democratic Party, as most are aware of the power of that force within the GOP yet fail to note its insidious nature within the Party they have come to trust as being on their side. But even those who do vote and do nothing else fail this nation. Again to Thoreau:
"All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voter is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that the right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority."
This may sound, at first reading, as a condemnation of the democratic foundation, the right of the vote and the rule of the majority, but I ask you to think carefully on these words. I am certain that those of you without an agenda, those not busily engaged in the practice of fooling those loyal democrats into believing their party still represents them when it, as much as does the GOP, represents only the one percent or so of the wealthiest and most powerful among us will get it. This essay, Civil Disobedience, was inspired, as is this article, by an unjust war for profit, the former with Mexico the latter with Iraq, as well as by the silent support for the institutions of slavery by most northern states at that time. Thoreau went to jail, albeit briefly, because of his opposition to this support for the return of runaway slaves to their masters.
This essay is a cry to the electorate to engage themselves in the processes of this nation, to understand that voting every two or four years does not alleviate anyone from the responsibilities for the deaths, for the tortures, for the many heinous actions of our governing bodies, for the suspension of Habeas Corpus, for the way the Democrats have been so silently complicit in these actions, actually voting for them on far too many occasions. If we simply walk from the voting booths with conscience appeased we are fooling ourselves and betraying our nation.
I would end with this citing, again from Civil Disobedience:
"A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance; nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the actions of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery it will be because they are indifferent to slavery or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote."