Monday, July 13, 2015

I Can't Say the Pledge of Allegiance

The 4th of July is a week passed, and I'm pretty sure that most of the country is still sobering up, so, I thought that it was time for me to admit a truth about myself.

I don't salute the flag, I will not recite the pledge of allegiance,  and while I will stand for the singing of the national anthem,  I stand with my hands behind my back.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love this land, but the symbols (the pledge, flag, etc.) no longer represent what this country has become, and so, I will not, indeed, cannot honor them, or pledge my devotion to them.

Does this make me un-American?  I don't think so. I believe that it makes me just as American as the flag waver down the street. I just choose to express my love for the country by an act of defiance, rather than devotion.

My reasons are varied and complicated, but in essence, they are as follows:

Our elected officials are more interested in keeping themselves and their parties in power than officiating in the affairs of the people who put them there.  They only care about us, their constituencies, when it comes time for the people to vote. Not that it matters a whole heck of alot, unaffiliated people (Independents, like myself) can’t vote for the candidates in primary elections anyway, at least not in Utah, and if the R-Party has its way, it will remain unchanged despite a public referendum on the matter.

The voice of the people doesn’t matter anyway.  No matter how a popular referendum is voted, the losing side can and will always sue in the courts where a single judge can overturn the vote of the people.  I’ll use the Utah amendment on same sex marriage as an example.  2/3’s of the people in the state voted for the amendment, and with a stroke of a gavel, a federal judge overrode all of those votes and then the Supreme Court upheld it.  that’s a total of 6 people telling millions that their votes don’t count.  How can that happen?  I thought that the vote was supposed to be sacred.  I guess not.

Why would anyone outside of Ohio or Florida take time to vote for President?  Your vote doesn’t count.  And if you live in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, or pretty much anywhere in the mountain west, it really - really doesn’t count because our states don’t have enough electoral votes to make a difference in any presidential election.  The Electoral College is outdated, unfair, and should be done away with.  But… the big states, with lots of representatives and thus lots of electoral votes, love it, so it will stay… unfortunately.

Our government listening in, or rather, having unfettered access to our phone calls and text messages?  Does this not strike you as being a little 1984-ish?  Now granted, if anyone in the government is reading my emails and tracking my movements, well, they’re going to die from boredom.  But the fact that they can, just kind of creeps me out. But, the flag wavers will scream that it's for our protection.  Well, I don't know about you, but I'd rather have liberty to say or text anything I'd like without fear than to be "protected."

If the founders of our country could see what their work and sacrifice has become, they would, literally, be horrified.

But, you know what, I'm not giving up hope, just yet.

In my neighborhood we have these enormous ravens. They really are very pretty, but they cause lots of problems to the smaller song birds, especially when the smaller birds are nesting.  The other morning, while walking to the bus stop, i saw one of these ravens being chased down by a sparrow. The raven had probably gotten to close to the sparrow’s nest and its newly hatched babies, and so this tiny little bird, that was no bigger than the raven’s head, went after the larger bird with a vengeance.
My point is, small things can make a difference.  I don’t think that anything is going to change overnight.  One election is never going to make a difference.  But over time… maybe.

There are a couple of things that I think will help.

  • I never, ever, vote for an incumbent. I don’t believe in career politicians.  I figure that they have one term in any given office, and then they should go home and back to whatever job they had before taking office.
  • In Utah, I’m not sure if it’s like this anywhere else, but in Utah every couple of election cycles, we “vote” for judges.  Basically, you vote “Yes” or “No” on whether to sustain them. I vote “No” on every one of them, no matter who they are.  Judges need to know that, while they are there to interpret the law, the laws are supposed to be by the voice of the people, and so they need to judge based on that fact.
  • Work openly to change election laws.  There was a time in America that you had to meet a standard in order to vote.  You had to be male, or own land, or pay a tax in order to vote.  The parties, and our politicians who represent those parties, are actively working to put other restrictions on voting.  They gerrymander the districts, they close primary elections to voters registered as one party or the other and they actively fight any change that will open voting to more citizens.  Actively fight this.  The vote should be free to all citizens, it is our right.
  • Write your representatives.  Don’t email.  Actually put pen to paper and mail in your comments to your representatives.  For some reason the pen to paper approach holds more sway.  Tell them (or rather the flunky who will actually read it) exactly what you feel about them.  Don’t threaten their lives or family, (the first amendment won’t protect you if you do that, although it should).  But tell them exactly what you think about the job that they are doing and what you would like to see changed.  You’ll most likely get a form letter back that almost never, entirely, tells you what they think on a subject that might actually be, almost, what your letter was about.  The point is, let them know that you are out there, and that you are watching.

There you go, my state of the disunion.  Something that has been rattling around in my head for quite a while, and is now out in the world.

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