It's about 11pm, and I just realized that after I posted about heading out to vote, I never got around to writing anything else for the rest of the day. Instead, my partner and I (after going to both of our polling locations then to the mall for an after-voting lunch) have been watching TV shows and occasionally checking up on the results so far. As of writing this, according to Politico, it's 186-174, Romney winning. But California hasn't reported yet. That's 55 votes in the bag for Obama, right? (California reported while I was writing that sentence, for Obama.)
And I'm not scared. Honest. Because these are both reasonable people, running for the head of a reasonable government. Right?
No, that's not true. Honestly, I am scared. I wish I wasn't, because it feels kind of hype-y and out-of-proportion. I'm not going to try to leave the country if Romney wins, I don't think he's one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. But I'm scared.
I'm scared because the role of the president isn't one of radical change, no matter who gets it. It's one job in a huge bureaucracy. An important one, but just one. And while the president of the United States may not pilot the future of the world, the president does lean, and the direction of the president's leanings affects more than nearly anyone else's.
When I lean in a bad direction, I risk hurting someone's feelings, doing a small amount of economic damage to someone or something, maybe even -- at the worst, most extreme -- costing some people's lives. But the president's leaning has so much more power than that. An aggressively fiscally conservative president has the ability to create an America where (at the very least) hundreds more Americans literally starve to death. A president who has the chance to appoint a supreme court judge has the ability to tilt the justice system to more aggressively punish people for differences in lifestyle like sexuality, drug preference, or religion.
When the president leans toward the progressive end, we see happier people, a kinder government, a civilization where more things work out for more people. When the president leans conservative, we see a more cutthroat, antisocial civilization.
And I really do think that the political philosophy that says people who fail should suffer as much as circumstances allow is antisocial. It's anti-civilizational. We don't work together as a species to build civilizations so we can let each other suffer. We do it to make things better for each other and for ourselves.
As of this point in writing, Obama's almost got it in the bag. But I'm going to keep going for a bit ranting.
There's a type of person, or, rather, a type of behavior, that really pisses me off, that I've been thinking about a lot lately. It's when a person justifies doing something awful to someone else by saying "That's just the way the world works, you need to get used to it."
Because the world they're talking about is the world insofar as it's made of people. It's the world that consists of people interacting with each other and doing nice or bad things to each other. So the way that world works is made entirely of the way people choose to act to each other.
So, it's begging the question, for one thing.
But beyond that, when you make that excuse, you're admitting that what you did is shitty, and you're admitting that you could have acted differently, but chose not to, and the reason you chose not to is that the world sucks, and you don't feel personally responsible for taking a little of the sting out of that.
It seems to me that's kind of the ethos of the republican party right now. The idea that success means and requires hurting other people. If left unchecked, it will lead to a shitty world -- and not to be too preachy about this, but when you alienate 99% of the people for the benefit of 1%, it gets kind of shitty up there, too. You lose inspired diversity. You're the victim of the best art. You have a smaller range for potential friends, and you've cornered yourself in an inevitably self-destructing class.
So, like, fingers crossed for Obama and stuff.