Monday, September 15, 2003

Voting: Scylla and Charybdis

Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 16) is election day in Seattle, with four City Council seats up for election, plus county council, port commissioner, and school board seats.

We also have two ballot items which have finally (for good or for ill) drawn some attention away from the California Governor’s Circus.  One will make personal-use marijuana possession enforcement the lowest priority for the police department.  (Which is about as close to legalization as can be managed at this time.)  The other, truly bizarre one is a 10 cent-per-cup tax on espresso drinks, with the tax monies going to fund child care programs.  (What espresso consumption has to do with child care is unclear, but this is definitely a tax on the rich rather than the poor; it takes a certain income level to warrant spending $3 on a cup of fancy coffee.)

I’m reminded once again about the true purpose of voting, of choosing one person over another.  The purpose isn’t to choose the best person for the job.  (The best person usually isn’t running, or if he/she is, it’s from a party or position that is unelectable.  Witness the 2000 Presidential Election.  Regardless of who won or should have won, neither Bush nor Gore was anywhere near the “best” person for the job.  I still can’t decide if I’m more surprised that Bush was the best thing the Republicans could put forward, or that Gore couldn’t beat the socks off him.)

The purpose in voting isn’t to choose the one who is in favor of your pet issue, either.  If you vote purely on single-issue grounds, whether that is gay rights or gun control or school prayer or abortion or the Middle East Peace Process, then you are ignoring the rest of the picture.  While that person may be spot on for one thing, they could be all over the board for others.

No, the purpose in voting is to choose the person who will do your issues (plural) the least amount of harm.  That is, the person who, in pursuing agenda items you are in favor of, won’t also pursue lesser ones you despise, or won’t ignore lesser ones you also favor.

So what will it be: The Devil or the Deep Blue Sea?

(For President, I’m currently leaning toward Howard Dean, but there are still months to go before I have to make a choice.  Of course, he’s the only candidate that the right-wing talk shows seem to be paying attention to, so he’s probably a pretty good choice.)

[Weblog title reference: Scylla and Charybdis are from Greek mythology, a sea monster and a whirlpool guarding the Strait of Messia.]

Updated on October 21, 2003

Updated on September 8, 2010
Added links.

Pity that Dean self-destructed — rather, that the media screwed him over — due to a hoarse voice and a sensitive microphone.

Curious: I always understood that “the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” was a reference to Scylla and Charybdis — the monster vs. the whirlpool — but the Wikipedia entries don’t confirm that.
Updated on September 14, 2010
Found an old David Horsey cartoon on the outcome of the pot-and-coffee votes:

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