The Force Of Politics For Peace
We must decide between continual conflict or collegial collaboration.
Today is election day, and I’m thinking about the results. I’m wondering about the turnout with better than 92 million ballots delivered one way or another. That is an unbelievable number but it pales in comparison to what they do in India. Still, 92 million is just the start. Tens of millions more ballots will be cast or delivered today.
On this Election Day, I have already voted by dropbox about a week ago. I studied the national candidates, the amendments and the judges. I voted party line for the state. There aren’t that many Democrats in Utah. We’re swamped by Republicans, but with Trump’s tax on the Blue States like California and New York, younger, more liberal people are slowly filtering in. I’m not that worried about Utah because the Republicans here seem pretty liberal as Republicans go.
When I was voting on judges, I looked for how long they have been around. I looked for whether or not they were ever prosecutors. Prosecutors are over-represented in our judiciary. For some reason, I didn’t see any public defenders on the ballot. I don’t see public defenders rising to the higher offices much. I guess that’s because public defenders don’t get much funding compared to the District Attorney’s office. The emphasis then is on putting people in jail, not keeping them free. So I vote with that in mind.
Here are a few interesting items I found on my ballot. The first was a constitutional amendment (Amendment C) to remove the exception of the ban against slavery:
Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to make the following changes to the
Utah Constitution’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude:
• remove the language that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as
punishment for a crime; and
• clarify that the ban does not affect the otherwise lawful administration of
the criminal justice system?
I like this idea. I think that too often, we use work as a punishment rather than as a way to acquire a new skill. We live in a culture immersed in behavior modification. Behavior modification is about using punishment and reward to get other people to behave in a manner we prefer. This amendment would help to put a limit on what we can do with behavior modification in our state. I voted yes on that one. Involuntary servitude should not be used as punishment for a crime. I hope it passes.
Constitutional Amendment G was very interesting, too. This one concerned how tax revenue should be used to help the people in the state:
Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to expand the uses of money the state receives from income taxes and intangible property taxes to include supporting children and supporting people with a disability?
This is what I mean by liberal Republicans. These amendments are put on the ballot by the legislature, not directly by the people. Republicans have supermajorities in both houses and they have the governor’s office. I voted yes on this one because I believe that I am my brother’s keeper. The life I save today may save my own life later.
The last one that I want to highlight here was really, really interesting because it’s about gender nouns. Constitutional Amendment A says:
Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to change words that apply to a single gender (such as the word “men”) to words that are not limited to a single gender (such as the word “persons”)?
I voted for that one, too. We’re all persons under the law. What makes this interesting to me is that Utah was a territory that permitted bigamy before it became a state. Utah had to relinquish bigamy in order to join the Union. There’s a letter on a wall in the state capital building attesting to this fact. It was the letter of admission.
I have seen some signs that some Utahns want to restore bigamy in the state. I know that there are people who still engage in bigamy because I’ve met someone who had 7 wives. I have also noted that there is strong political support for the LGBTQ community in this state. It’s almost like they’re saying, “let us have bigamy, you can be whatever gender you want and maybe still get married.”
I know that this election will be contentious. The news is at a fever pitch. The polls are open today. More than 92 million ballots have been received by mail or dropbox already. My vote was counted according to the Secretary of State for Utah. I know because I checked myself. I am filled with anticipation for the results, yet, I’m agnostic as to the result. I really don’t know what will happen today, but I’m not afraid to find out.
I expect that whatever the results, we’ll be one step closer to living in peace together. That’s what democracy is about. I’ve seen enough wars in the news. I read about the wars of our past, and I know that war is a bloody, dirty business. War is about behavior modification, too. The point of living in a democracy is to distribute the power enough so that power flows without war and slavery. That’s a big improvement over how things used to be.
I think that no matter what the results of the election are, whether we are happy or unhappy with the results is a choice we must make. Happiness is not a passive event. It requires cognition, and acknowledgment of everything we already have. In that sense, it doesn't really matter who wins or who loses. What matters is what we decide to do with the results.