There is a question going around social media asking people to list their top three priorities for this election, which inspired me to think about mine. I’m “politically homeless” at the moment and hoping that new movements with new platforms will emerge as more people become disenchanted with the two warring “tribes” of our nation.
1. Avoiding Nuclear War
The development of nuclear weapons was supposed to put an end to open warfare, with differences being resolved through diplomacy and economic leverage because the risk of nuclear escalation in any armed conflict would simply be too great. Somehow instead we have ended up with a strange set of nuclear protocols that allows the carnage of warfare to continue within some vaguely-defined limits beyond which nukes might be used.
I’m very much not OK with this situation, as especially with the refusal of the USA to engage in diplomatic relations with Russia in the current conflict. Any level of conflict between nuclear-armed adversaries raises the risk of a nuclear exchange (which could easily be triggered by accident or by false indications of an attack), which means that no level of conflict escalation between nuclear-armed powers should be politically acceptable.
I also feel that no US military intervention since World War II has been truly justified, and that our global military hegemony has imposed vast unnecessary suffering both abroad and among our own veterans. I will support any candidate who pledges to resolve all differences through diplomacy, to be willing to compromise even if it means a loss of autonomy or territory for our supposed allies, and to reserve military intervention as a very last resort to be used if our national homeland is under attack.
2. Irrational Belief vs. Body Autonomy: Vaccine Mandates
One year ago I felt seriously under attack for my decision to forego covid vaccination. People around me were losing jobs. I couldn’t travel to most countries or set foot in local theaters. Unvaccinated Canadians couldn’t travel by plane or train and it seemed like similar restrictions might be implemented here, or even some sort of fine or tax penalty based on vaccination status. Well respected people were publicly wishing death and suffering on “the unvaccinated” on TV and in print media.
It turned out that the “miracle shots” were no such thing: that following a brief period of partial efficacy vaccinated people contracted covid just as often as unvaccinated people, with maybe some residual protective effect against severe illness in the most at-risk groups. Consequently most of the vaccination-based restrictions have been removed, and prominent voices are now proposing an “amnesty.” Meanwhile thousands or perhaps millions of people who have suffered adverse reactions to these shots are still dealing with disabling health problems, and all-cause mortality rates are running suspiciously high in most countries with widespread usage of mRNA vaccines – which may or not be attributable to the shots but is certainly not a mark in their favor.
I’m not opposed to vaccination. I’m not even – at least in theory – opposed to mandatory vaccination if such an action can be rationally justified: the vaccines in question have been time-tested to be safe and effective, the target disease is smallpox- or ebola-level dangerous, and there is a realistic chance of driving the disease to extinction through universal vaccination. None of those criteria were met in this case, most importantly the first given that this was a vaccine using an entirely novel mRNA delivery method that had only been tested for safety and efficacy for around six months before it was deployed.
The irrational belief in this case can be stated as Vaccines Save Lives, and it is especially prevalent on the blue team of American politics. Vaccines are, of course, a medical intervention that can save lives. They can also, it turns out, take lives, or make their target diseases worse, or fail to do much of anything. I don’t take issue with the fact that vaccines can save lives. I take issue with the belief, predominant among folks who call themselves “progressive” and who have faith in modern technology to solve our problems, that anything that is given the name “vaccine” has untouchable savior status (to the point that they are uniquely exempt from liability in our litigious society) and anyone who questions the goodness or value of any vaccine is “anti-progress” or “anti-science” and generally a bad person.
I will support any candidate who pledges to approach vaccines as a potentially helpful treatment rather than a savior from evil, and who promises to remove all discrimination based on vaccination status and to enact no new restrictions along those lines.
3. Irrational Belief vs. Body Autonomy: Abortion
Any thought I might have had of “changing sides” to the red team has been stymied by their choice to use this moment to fight their own war on body autonomy following their own irrational belief.
As with vaccination, I understand that abortion is a nuanced issue: that a human life does not arbitrarily begin at the moment of birth, and that there are ethical concerns regarding termination of pregnancy particularly in later stages which require careful consideration, compromise, and respect for the physical and emotional well-being of both the pregnant woman and the developing fetus.
As with the mandatory vaccination debate, this issue is distorted by an irrational belief – this time predominantly on the red team – that Life Begins At Conception. The only justification for this belief is its presence in the sacred doctrines of particular religions, which of course cannot be proven and therefore should not be used to impose restrictions upon people who do not subscribe to those religions.
Just as irrational beliefs surrounding vaccination lead to tragic stories of fired nurses and people suffering real vaccine injuries being gaslit by doctors, irrational beliefs surrounding abortion lead to rape victims being forced to carry pregnancies to term and women suffering pregnancy complications being refused lifesaving treatment.
So, this is my first election feeling truly no allegiance to either of the major parties. I’m glad to cast my vote for Betsy Johnson as governor, who gets #2 and #3 right. I’m not sure where she stands on warmongering vs. diplomacy, but that’s not really a state-level issue. I’m also proud to cast my vote for Dan Pulju for US Senate, who gets all three of these issues right.
I recognize that these third-party votes might not accomplish much, or that I might be viewed as a “spoiler” for refusing to choose the “lesser evil” over the “greater evil”. But I’m done playing that game. And I hope that enough additional people will choose to be done playing that game in the years ahead that we might truly have some new and positive options to break the partisan gridlock.