I've spent the past hour or so deliberating on whether or not I should respond to mat catastrophe. Everything is not a BBS, and frankly I feel like I'm being goaded; but daylogs tend to fall into a special category anyhow, and I might as well get some things off my chest. Again.

First of all, Mat, I realize you're talking about a variety of people, both here and elsewhere, so the parts that don't seem to apply to me at all I'll ignore. I don't especially blame the Democratic Party - which I'm not a member of - and I don't blame John Kerry, though I think that both he and the party could have done a better job selling his image to the voting public. My comment about secession was really more offhand than anything else. (I know it would never come to pass, and it's not really a solution anyway; furthermore, it would serve to make many people in those states feel as de facto disenfranchised as I do). As for immigrating, I've been thinking about that since long before this election, and not for purely political reasons (though those factor in). That said...

You seem to have two points: One is that it's somehow wrong to question the reasons that people voted for George W. Bush. The second is that voting is not enough.

I know there are plenty of intelligent conservatives out there. I may not agree with them, and I may not even like them, but it would be both foolhardy and insulting for me to pretend they don't exist. Believe me when I say that I wish I could believe that the majority of people who voted for Bush did so because after careful consideration of all the evidence, they concluded that he was the "best man for the job" and/or the candidate whose values were most aligned with their own. But that simply is not borne out by the facts.

Have a gander at PIPA's October 21st Report on the viewpoints of Bush and Kerry supporters. The numbers are appalling. 57% of Bush supporters believe that the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. 56% believe the 9/11 Commission Report concluded that Saddam Hussein had close ties to al-Qaeda. 26% believe the majority of the world supports the war in Iraq, 42% believe it is evenly divided. 57% believe that the majority of the world wanted Bush to win the election. (To be fair, substantial minorities of Kerry supporters apparently believe a lot of these things as well, proving ignorance is indeed bipartisan; however, the numbers are significantly lower than for Bush supporters.)

What I find most astonishing is the beliefs Bush supporters seem to have about their own candidate's views. 69% of Bush supporters believe he supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 51% believe he supports the Kyoto Protocols. 72% believe he supports the treaty banning landmines. 53% believe he is in favor of the International Criminal Court. And a whopping 74% believe he favors including environmental and labor standards in our trade agreements. (This all led one political cartoonist recently to suggest other reasons people may be voting for Bush - for instance, the fact that he invented pasteurization and is the lead singer of Jimmy Eat World.)

Now, maybe those statistics are wrong. Maybe they're biased. Maybe half of the supposed "Bush supporters" were really members of a vast left-wing conspiracy intended to make conservatives look foolish. I don't know. What I do know is that they seem to agree with experiences that I and many other people I've talked to have had. And that frightens me in ways you cannot imagine. Given those statistics, what would you conclude about a large percentage of the people who just re-elected the guy?

Now then, as for the contention that voting, by itself, is not a sufficient act. You may be right. But what would you have people do? Protest? I think I can count the number of protests that have achieved anything on a single hand's fingers. There's Gandhi, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, apartheid... and that's about it. And in each case, changes occurred not because they had changed anybody's mind, but because those in power realized that there was enough public sentiment in favor of the protesters' cause to give them serious trouble. The vast majority of protests do not have enough. Volunteering? Well, maybe. But again, I don't see that changing many minds; and regardless, what about those of us who, frankly, aren't really represented?

I am not a Republican or a Democrat. Only 32% of Americans - regardless of their official party affiliation - profess a strong preference for either party. (You'll have to take that on faith for now - I don't have the source handy at the moment.) What are the rest of us to do?

The most I can say about the Democratic Party is that, between it and the Republicans, I find it less objectionable. There are people in it that I genuinely agree with on a lot of issues, but they are in the minority. Suppose I support gay marriage. What party represents me? If you say the Republicans, then you are probably one of the people PIPA polled. If you say the Democrats, then you're not entirely wrong, but you're not right either - at best, the Democratic Party supports civil unions, and I believe that support is shaky at best. How about a less controversial topic: What party do I pick if I want a truly free market? (I don't, but bear with me here.) Both parties endorse the subsidizing of various industries, tariffs on various products, and so on. One might promote lower taxes than the other, or decrease regulation, but its views are still not anywhere close to mine. I could pick the Libertarian Party, I suppose, but given the structure of our electoral system they have a snowball's chance in hell of winning anything.

In almost any other democratic nation in the world, I could find a political party that (regardless of my opinions) would (while certainly not matching my views perfectly)come close enough that I didn't feel like I was being ignored - and more to the point, one that would have a legitimate chance at obtaining at least some power. (Canada, incidentally, is not one of these.)

But I'm straying from my point, which is that for many people, there really isn't much we can do other than vote that will have even the tiniest impact on political matters. Maybe I'm just being cynical, I don't know. But if I'm right, why should I stay where I'm not wanted? Where my opinion doesn't matter? Because that's how I feel about my metro area, my state, and increasingly, my country.