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Too close to call?
Dear Planet Waves Reader:

Tuesday is Election Day in the United States. In their infinite wisdom, the founders gave us federal elections that always fall when the Sun is in Scorpio. They weren't all astrologers; Ben Franklin was a successful one, but I don't know how much influence he had over this decision. Precisely what we get are elections that are full of intrigue and mystery.

Planet Waves
Sign for Carl not-your-Pal-adino, candidate for governor of New York, letting us know how 'mad' he is. It's true -- reminding us that he is indeed a reputed mobster, Carl recently threatened to 'take out' New York Post reporter Fred Dicker, on video. Photo by Eric Francis.
Last night I called my friend Jenny down in Miami to witch her a happy Samhain and pagan new year, which was overnight Oct. 31 to Nov. 1. She told me a story. Friday night she'd been invited to a gay Republican Halloween party. I have trouble understanding concepts like 'gay Republican', but some political interests appear to be very good at getting people to go against their own.

The conversation included the usual griping about the economy and the Constitution. We're all gonna man up and do somethin' about these tax-and-spend, commie socialist Muslim-lovers. Forget the fact that the Teabag movement has branded itself the Gay K K.

So Jenny took them on.

"I've learned not to tell people what I think, but rather to ask them what they know," she said, as a preface to her story.

First she asked if anyone who had an opinion had ever taken an economics class. Nobody had. Had anyone read a book about economics? Nobody had.

"So how can you have an opinion on which candidate is going to have a better economic policy?"

No answer.

She then moved onto the Constitution. There are a lot of candidates waving the Constitution lately -- suddenly it seems nobody is following the thing, and since the lapel flag went out of style it's become fashionable apparel to 'prove' your patriotism. As long as you don't go too deep into separation of powers, and where laws originate, or the Bill of Rights.

Again she inquired. Nobody knew what was in the First Amendment. In fact nobody could name the basic components or any facet of the Bill of Rights except the Second Amendment. Nobody had read the Constitution or a book about it. Everyone had an opinion about which candidate was 'better' but none was even vaguely informed.

Planet Waves
Had Enough? Campaigning this year seems to stress only the negative, with little in the way of concrete plans or ideas being articulated. Photo by Eric.
She explained that we don't live in a democracy; we live in a constitutional republic. In a democracy, the majority can take away the rights of any minority faction. In a constitutional republic, the constitution stands as the mediator. In theory, Democrats could vote to take away the rights of any minority, and Republicans would adhere to the Constitution as how we protect the rights of any minority faction and still do the business of society. But at the moment, the world is a bit inside out and upside down.

We are in an election cycle characterized by candidates who won't talk to reporters (and a candidate for governor in New York who threatened to murder a top journalist, with the cameras rolling), by anonymous money being funneled into races in remote districts, and by many candidates who decry 'big government' and then plan to get into office, collect paychecks and enjoy taxpayer-supported health insurance; some will get it for the rest of their lives. Many of them are millionaires.

It is amazing to hear people who collect and depend on Medicare speak against Medicare; to hear poor people support candidates who would eliminate the minimum wage, cut Social Security or give it to a totally unregulated Wall Street, and then complain about over-regulation. It's beyond my comprehension to understand why any woman would vote for a candidate who wants to make a woman exercising her reproductive rights into a crime. Why would anyone want to repeal a law that protects people from insurance companies banning them if their child has a pre-existing condition? But, it seems that many do. And they may have no clue what they're against.

This all may sound like an argument not to vote -- but actually I'm here to remind you to make some time to vote Tuesday. I know it's a small gesture, and we need to participate in our constitutional republic every day of the year. But Tuesday is an especially good day. The kinds of problems our country, and our world, are facing call for our attention and involvement.

So, let's vote and keep on going.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

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