Monday, October 29, 2007

The Thing Is

Around 1990 I decided to start voting in elections. I had to accept that every person nominated by one of the two parties in the U.S. sooner or later was going to say something I really despised. Anyone who had a chance of being nominated for high office was going to say something so odious to me that properly ought to disqualify him or her from getting my vote. And probably mean it -- probably not misspeak or be misheard.

I voted anyhow, based on the notion that I was governed by a system of laws and arranged powers, to which I voluntarily sacrificed some of my own independence in exchange for the common good, and the benefits that would not otherwise come to me and every other citizen. I was voting for a renewal of that social contract, not because I liked anyone who wanted to work in it.

Now, with the endless electoral season, every candidate has the chance to say multiple things that make me cringe, and to repeat them. And with the bullhorn capabilities of the Internet, those cringe-making comments can be collected and repeated and any candidate can be made to look like someone I'd never trust anywhere near power.

And I'm less and less confident that we're governed by a system of balanced powers, not by personalities and agendas.