Why I’m NOT Going to be a Bush-dodger

I keep hearing in the news that people are planning on moving to Canada because Bush won the election. If you think about it for more than the split-second you see it in your newsreader or on the evening news, it doesn’t make much sense.

I lived in Canada since the last election up until January of this year. Let me tell you that being an American in Canadaisn’t an easy way out of Bush country. Don’t get me wrong. I love Canada. One day I hope to move back. But right now, my country needs me – a failry liberal Democrat.

One thing that people don’t seem to consider is that you cannot effect change in the US if you’re living in Canada or any other country. You see, while living abroad you basically have no say in your home country’s goverment AND you have no say in the what your resident country’s government. So basically you’re choosing a life where both the US and Canadian governments (if living in Canada) can make laws that affect your everyday life without there being anyway for you to get your voice heard. Yes, US laws affected my life in BC. For example:

  • Softwood lumber tariffs
  • Patriot Act
  • Tax laws – you still have to file a US tax return
  • Iraq war – from gas prices to everyday comments asking you, the closest representative of the States, why you invaded Iraq. Saying sorry you didn’t vote for the guy can get very tiring.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. Of course some will say that as it stands now a Democrat has no say in the Bush government. That’s not true. If you live in the US, your state has at least 1 Representative and 2 Senators. So, if you feel strongly about a subject you can get out the ol’ pen and paper to write them about the issue that is concerning you. You’re more likely to get your letters read if delivered by snail mail. Plus there’s always the phone. And you can vote them out every two years.

Now let me ask you, who do you write to when you live outside the country? Americans Abroad do not have representation in the US government. Although Democrats Abroad at least have a lobby and vote in the convention. Do you write to your old state’s congressmen? Well, depending on the state you lived in, you may no longer have a right to vote for the person to fill that office and they don’t have to listen to what you say. And I believe that it’s illegal to pretend that you are a resident of a state.

So what do you do? Vote only in the Presidential elections, and you just sit up there in Canada hoping for the best. And we all know how well that goes.

Also I have to question people who instead of getting involved in trying to fix what they see as wrong, they just up and run. They’re not in danger of getting killed, tortured or jailed for their beliefs (at this point), but they’re not going to stay and try to reinstate the United States as the country everyone looks to as the premier example of democracy. instead, the Bush-dodgers are going to flee the country for another country that has a different set of issues/problems, some similar, where they won’t be able to vote and will be seen as an Outlander. If there are enough Bush-dodgers, they’ll leave this country in the hands of the Republicans and the neo-conservatives who have hijacked that gallant ol’ party.

I ask all those Bush-dodgers to stay and get involved. And why not engage Republicans that voted for Bush in conversations where you’re actually listening to why they voted for him. You might find that you have more in common than you think.


Voting? Paper or Plastic?

So after all the brouhaha about how the elections officials in Santa Clara County were directing their people not to offer paper ballots when there were those oh so reliable electronic voting machines, guess what I was asked when I got to the registration table in Mountain View City Hall? Electronic or Paper?

I picked paper. Then the ladies filling in the paper ledger circled “P” for paper, I signed on the line with a pen and off I went to sit down at a table to make my decision. The way people have been doing it in our country for over 200 years.

And probably a good things seeing as BoingBoing is reporting that another Santa Clara County resident got the voting machine equivalent of the blue screen o’death. Luckily for all of us he was armed with a camera phone to protect his right to vote. Other Santa Clara County voters’ experiencesweren’t as easy as mine. My co-worker voted at the firehall in Mountain View and was asked why she wanted one and given a quilt trip for having asked for a paper ballot. And from what’s written on BoingBoing other people in Santa Clara County are having similar experiences. Um, aren’t we by law entitled to a paper ballot? And isn’t it against the law for polling stations to hinder that request? Hmmm…

As for hindering voting, my friend told me that she did the electronic version and there was no way for her to write in a candidate. Nader is a write in candidate here in California, for those not aware. The guy who’s running for president from jail is on the ballot, but we can’t easily write in a guy that’s trying to get the US to go for a legitimate three party system. That will have to wait until next time I suppose.

During the half hour that I was in line and could actually see the voting area ( I was in line for an hour from 7 to 8 am) there were only a handful of people that chose the paper method. I was talking to a guy in line and was mulling over with him whether or not I was going to go the paper route. He said, “If it was any place other than California, then I’d do paper.” Without getting to intrusive, I could only infer he meant that if he was in a swing state, and he felt that his vote really could make a difference, he would certainly vote paper. I consider it a bit of a social faux pax to ask someone in line who they’re voting for. Following that thought with him would have led me down that route.

But despite the electronic voting system, lines continued to be long. Maybe it’s because Californians have 31 decisionsto make while standing there. Sitting down, I breezed through the paper ballot while other people were left standing to figure out the touch screens.

For those wondering why I chose paper. Electronic voting in the way that it’s implemented right now, does not sit well with me. What happens if someone decides they’re going to let off an EMP and knock out all the machines causing them lose all their data? Or more likely, what happens if votes need to be recounted? Where’s the paper trail? Also, how do I know that the people I voted for are what was recorded in the system? I don’t right now. But I do know if I mark the paper myself. It’s more manual intensive, but I know that I haven’t been disenfranchised by a malfunctioning computer.