evening, I sent this email to a list devoted to war tax resistance:
It’s sure been hard to drum up much interest for tax resistance over these last several months. Everybody’s been so wound up about the election and how important it is that it’s made everything else seem like a distraction.
Now that’s over, and the people who last week were telling us to please, please, please vote for the fellow who voted for the Patriot Act and the war resolution (and to please save our funny ideas for the annual April 15th war tax resistance fifteen-minutes-of-fame show), are now shuffling around like war refugees themselves, feeling angry and repentant and wondering what to do next.
Meanwhile, the people who covered up Guernica at the U.N. Security Council are planning to paint a new one in Falluja.
We have an opportunity now to reach out and say “you tried voting for the lesser of two evils, and you put your heart into it, but there’s a stronger vote you can cast every day and we can help show you how.”
On , the Republicans extended their control of Congress, Dubya retained his control of the White House, and the majority of voters condoned and even vindicated the belligerence and disregard for life and liberty that has been on display for the last four years. But as awful is that millions of people who should know better woke up on and cast another vote — to continue sending their money to be spent by that terrible bunch.
I feel like we need to challenge these people. I’m in no mood to join another Bay Area protest march with the same old “People! United!” marching under the banner of “Our Opinions Sure Are Right!”
Next time there’s a march, I want to see us marching upstream, with signs saying “And When You’re Serious About It, Get Back To Us!”
Meanwhile, the time to turn up our volume is right now — the gut-felt anguish of these voters hasn’t gone away yet and we’ve got what they’re looking for.
I appended an excerpt from Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government that seemed to speak extremely well to today’s election aftermath from a perspective (I’ve taken the liberty of chopping paragraphs more finely than in the original, for ease of on-line reading):
I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless.
We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.
There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret.
At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them…
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency.
Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.
There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.
I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of his wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions?
But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him.
He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought.
O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through!
Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one.…
It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.
If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.
See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, “I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go”; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute.
The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment.…
Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves — the union between themselves and the State — and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury?