Commentary: The Importance of Voting



In the last piece in the series on U.S. politics, Gene Gerth examines the implications of not voting and why, as U.S. citizens, it is absolutely crucial in this election to get your ballot in the box.


BUSAN, South Korea -- Over the past year, Busan Haps has given me the opportunity to write a series of articles on American politics. That opportunity has been deeply appreciated by this author. In all of my previous articles I have refrained from using the personal pronoun “I”, because I have preferred the facts speak for themselves rather than being confused for an opinion. In this article, the last for the foreseeable future, it will be used on a regular basis.  

In the five previous articles, I attempted to outline the issues that will be important in the upcoming election and require that all of us participate in our democracy. In my first article, “The Tax and Spend Liberal Myth”, I outlined the historical evidence that demonstrates that false label we liberals have had foisted upon us by the right wing propaganda machine. In my second article, “Let’s Talk About Health Care”, I presented concrete evidence with regard to the failure of a privatized health care system when compared to a public national health care system. In the third article, “What’s Happened to My Parents’ Republican Party?”, I brought forth information that many folks are not aware of, as to how the honest Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower has been significantly marginalized and in many instances co-opted by radical conservative elements such as the Social Darwinists, the Religious Right and Ayn Rand libertarians. The fourth article, “Failure of the Supply Side Economic Theory”, was a factual demonstration of how consumer-driven, or bubble-up economics, actually is much more beneficial to all of the members of a society than is trickle-down. In my most recent article, “Public vs. Private Enterprise”, I submitted information that strongly indicates how a balanced approach between the public and private enterprise sectors best serves the needs of, and enhances the well-being of, a society.

What we have in politics today is a wide difference in political philosophy between conservative and liberal (or progressive, as liberals are more commonly called these days) way of thinking. Conservatives believe to a great degree to what they call individual responsibility. Now, there is nothing wrong with this basic idea. Liberals also believe in individual responsibility, but not in the extreme version radical conservatives do. What has happened, is that radical conservatives believe in the “Father Figure” or “Authoritarian” form of responsibility. In other words, it is the father’s (or other authority figure’s) responsibility to set the standard for the rest of the family (or other social group) to abide by. Any attempt to question this authority is framed as rebellion that needs to be disciplined. Questioning of this authority is not to be allowed. This attitude has led to an ideological frame of mind that limits the ability to question authority or to do any sort of critical analysis. This has also led to the idea that poverty is a lack of individual responsibility or, in other words, those who are poor have an attitude problem and are not well-disciplined enough to keep themselves and their families out of poverty. This further leads to the idea that any government social programs designed to help the poor are handouts and anyone who takes them has some sort of entitlement mentality. Now, there is no scientific, sociological or psychological data whatsoever to confirm this point of view. Liberals believe (as research has demonstrated) that there are many sociological and psychological factors which impact poverty and that government programs designed to counter these effects are necessary for the well being of society.

Above is just one example of the extreme conservative point of view. Their view is that democracy provides one the liberty to pursue one’s self-interest without concern or commitment to the interests of others. When they speak of “small government”, they are really talking about their deep antagonism toward the public in general. They despise the use of government programs that protect and empower all citizens equally by providing public resources such as education, transportation, and health care facilities, as well as other resources that allow for a decent life and prosperity for all. Such programs just don’t fit into their philosophy of every man for himself. Liberals obviously believe the opposite.

The important reason that all liberals, progressives and freethinkers should vote in the upcoming election should therefore be obvious. In my previous article about trickle- down economics, you can understand what the economic policy put forward by radical conservatives will be. Proof of this is already apparent by the congressional proposal of the “Ryan Plan”. The adoption of this plan would decimate Medicare by turning it into a voucher system. Get ready to start paying your parents’ medical bills if it’s adopted. Much of the public sector would be dismantled and turned over to the for-profit private sector as is now being done to education and incarceration. (See my article on Public vs. Private). Do we really want this to happen?

Now, granted, many of the social welfare programs now in effect have problems, but a repair is in order rather than a replacement by a for profit private entity. For example, Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neal repaired social security by raising the retirement ages and reforming the social security tax system. It’s too bad that no Congressman or Senator have the balls to propose the same kind of changes these days. (I’m talking both Democrats and Republicans). Medicare was partially repaired when the Affordable Care Act was passed and the Medicare Advantage element was curtailed. Medicare Advantage was nothing more than a private insurance company rip-off of your taxpayer dollars anyway. These are the kind of things that need to be done these days and it will never happen if radical conservatives continue to be elected. A graphic to illustrate my point about how radical conservatives are able to convince others to come to their conclusions.

It’s my considered opinion that American voters have made grievous errors in recent election cycles due to the above graphic; the most recent being the election of a tea-bagger congress in 2010. Had that not happened, there would be a million more folks employed today (the American Jobs Act among other legislation that could have been enacted), deficit reduction plans would be in effect (Boles Simpson), and we wouldn’t have to be worried about stupid shit like the “Ryan Plan”. In addition I have lost a great deal of faith in a certain portion of the American electorate. The fact that members of a congressional district can elect and re-elect Islamaphobic representatives such as Michelle Bachmann, Louis Gohmert and Allen West, who said that 78 to 82 members of the house of representatives are communists, is beyond my comprehension. Are we returning to the days of Senator Joe McCarthy?

Radical conservatives, especially those on the religious right, also like to spout morality to the rest of us. I’ll tell you what I think is immoral: the fact that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and all the other right-wing talkers can make millions of dollars selling their lies and half-truths to their radio and TV audiences. And: Rush Limbaugh is a family man? Why don’t we ask his three previous wives? To say the least, it’s a sad state of affairs.

I would also add that folks are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Get the point, Fox (Faux) News? I could go on and on giving reasons why it is essential that all liberals and progressives cast their ballot in the upcoming election. Hopefully the reader has already gotten that message.

Two recent comments by liberal thinkers come to mind and even though these two folks are a little too far out in left field to suit me, there comments are very applicable and appropriate. Bill Maher stated on the Larry King live show some months ago prior to King's departure from the show. I'm paraphrasing: “Most Americans are liberal thinkers. It’s just that they’re more concerned about where the party is going to be this weekend, rather than getting involved in the political process.” Michael Moore stated on the same program at another time: “Radical conservatives are up at the crack of dawn working their issues and propaganda. The only time we liberals see the crack of dawn is when we stay up all night partying.” 'Nuff said!

Let’s now talk about requesting your ballot and voting. Several folks that I spoke with over the last few months have told me that they are already registered to vote. Now this may very well be the case, but let me pass on the following information. A few years back in 2009 congress passed what is known as the “Military and Overseas Voter Entitlement Act” (MOVE Act). A portion of that act states that local voter registrars are no longer required to mail voting materials (ballots) to previously (not currently) registered voters. The reason that this section was incorporated into the act was that a great number of ballots were being returned with “no longer at this address” statements attached, or in the case of many overseas voters, simply the ballot was not returned. Currently the US Embassy in Seoul is recommending that every eligible voter send in a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every election cycle (every two years). If you have not done this I would strongly recommend doing so.

In all of my previous articles, I have refrained from using descriptive expletives (obscenities). You will notice that on various occasions above, however, I did so such as with the reference to the “Ryan Plan.” Well folks, it’s about time someone started cutting the bull and setting the facts straight!


Raymond “Gene” Gerth spent 22 years on active duty with the US Army. Eight years and four months of that time were spent stationed here in the ROK. After his retirement from active duty, he spent another 12 years as a procurement analyst for the Eighth Army's MWR division at their headquarters in Seoul and worked as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Maryland's University College. Prior to his government service, he was a public school teacher in three different US states and managed his own entertainment booking agency, Musicians Services Limited. His political activities prior to his military service included serving on his local precinct election board as a poll judge.

TO ACCESS THE HAPS LINK FOR VOTER REGISTRATION TIMES AND LOCATIONS, CLICK HERE


Gene also heads up the local chapter of Democrats Abroad.


The views of the writer are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Haps Magazine.


If you would like to get in on the political discussion, Haps welcomes all submissions.




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