I happened across something written by [Gus Van Horn](http://gusvanhorn.blogspot.com/). And it helped me to finally conceptualize a problem I had long been struggling to grasp about politics, voting and political support. ### Problem ### There is limited political choice and each of the candidates has a platform of values they claim to uphold. People will select a candidate by finding the one that defends at least one value that they hold [^1] or at least do not actively work against. Upon making this selection they then join the fan club and defend[^2] or attempt to ignore all of the bad points to the candidate. I will try and make this clear with the following example.
A person believes in the 2nd amendment right to own a gun. When it comes time to vote they look myopically at their most important concrete value, the right to gun ownership. They then not only vote for the person or party that is for protecting this right, but speak out in favor of them, defend or ignore their wrong ideas, and drop any contradictions. They actively, and often rightly, attack the other parties candidate all the while ignoring the flaws in their own choice. They latch on to their candidate and argue with others with the zealous devotion an Eagles fan describing all the failings of the Cowboys or Giants to one of their faithful.
This is the thinking behind those political tests which decide where you are on some political chart and then tell you who to vote for. Of course they try and make it slightly more complex not limiting it to one issue but 5 or 15[^3]. But using these tests are like trying to decide your morality with a calculator[^4].
> Murder = -100, Being Honest = +1, Self sacrifice = +5, so if I want to kill 2 people I'll have to be honest most of the time and give money to charities.[^5]
### Cause ### The cause of the problem was fairly obvious once grasped. It is the assumption that first you need to choose which of these two gangs you are with. And then if you do have some reason to pick one over the other that you should then support that candidate. It was this article ["Indeed" Indeed](http://gusvanhorn.blogspot.com/2008/01/indeed-indeed.html) that made this clear to me. The idea is that when you join a group to support them you have now made your ideas, especially those contrary to the group, a non-factor. Your vote is already counted. And on the other side of that coin if you start your own party you are also a non-factor, your vote is already discounted, therefore so are your ideas.
The parties goals are to get elected and to meet that end they will throw out principles for pragmatism. This is evident by the fact that both the Democrats and Republicans are basically indistinguishable at this point. They are all scrabbling for the same votes and are therefore pandering to the same groups. The more success the Republicans have going after the religious vote, and sacrificing the first amendment in the process, the more the Democrats will do the same. And there are numerous other examples where, for all their differences, they are all basically the same. Therefore the people with the power to change ideas are the people who have not blindly committed their vote for one or two baubles, tradition, or other irrational factor.
### So What? ### This is not to advocate catering to pragmatists to get bread and circuses. This is rather a call to moral judgments. It is wrong to give sanction to the evils of one party just for one or two principles that haven't been wiped out yet.
To further the goals of individual rights you must remain uncommitted to the groups acting to destroy those rights. You must then act to spread these ideas. The only way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas and the way to support good ideas is to show everyone. Man must live through means of reason, he must learn what it is he needs to survive and then act to obtain it. The only way to have a society of man that promotes life is to promote reason and the way to do that is to bar the initiation of force from social relationships.
> The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. --[Ayn Rand](http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government.html)
So I remain an independent, free to use my mind to chose my values and my government. I will, most likely, vote for someone, but in the time when I am not pushing that button I will devote time to advocating good ideas.
[^1]: Or belongs to a party that had at one point defended this value. [^2]: I originally wrote "defend to the death" and removed for readability of the sentence, but put it down here because it is very apt in this context. [^3]: Gus Van Horn has a nice [comment on these tests](http://gusvanhorn.blogspot.com/2008/01/quick-roundup-290.html#ibe) too, that helped me figure reach this post. [^4]: This of course is how many people actually do it. And probably how the Iraqi war is to be decided. [^5]: Of course even in this contrived example you could leave the murder part out and just rank self sacrifice as a positive virtue and watch the corpses pile up.