THE BALLOT BOX VERSUS THE BULLET BOX
I was raised in the USA to believe that if we have a grievance or a complaint about a law or a government policy or a behavior, that all we need to do is contact our elected representative and work within “the system” to get it changed. We can form grassroots organizations, pass out flyers, buy advertising space on billboards and, of course, use social media to spread our message in order to get what we don’t like, changed.
However, those of us who have tried these activist methods, have been met with deep disappointment. Seldom do elected officials show any interest or bother to respond to our letters and phone calls. The standard excuse is that we, a constituent, are like spit in an ocean, our issue is drowned out by millions of other constituent issues and the elected official is simply spread too thin to address our concerns.
Lincoln reportedly said, “Among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet” Yet, appeal to the bullet Lincoln finally did when the South would not align themselves with the dictates of the North. Lincoln was right though, it was not a successful appeal. Yes, the North won the Civil War, but at what cost? State’s rights and the 10th amendment were never the same after the civil war. The civil war gave birth to the federal government we have today, vast, sprawling alphabet soup agencies with their own law enforcement branches, imposing their wills on local communities.
As to bullets, the Civil War killed more Americans than all the other wars combined. Over 675,000 fatalities including civilians. The wounded envied the dead. Death from a large caliber civil war bullet wound was agonizingly slow as many of the wounded lay on the battle field, no morphine, no pain killers and it was not uncommon to live for days before the sweet relief of death finally came.
Recently, I was at the Marietta battle field near Atlanta, and the museum describes the horror of the battles that took place there, brother against brother, fellow citizens speaking the same language, slaughtering and killing one another. The screams of agony from the wounded were described in diaries as the wounded lay piled up among the dead, waiting for their death.
So yes, the bullet box is not the answer. But if the ballot box does not work, then what does work? During a recent visit with the Bundy family at their ranch, they described the frustration of contacting many politicians, many elected representatives and appointed government officials and nothing, no response, no interest, no concern. I like to call it, “playing ping pong against a mattress.”
Our pompous, egotistical politicians like to slap themselves on the back on how they try to be responsive to their constituents and how any person within their district can rely on them to get answers and bring about change. Lip service, platitudes, nothing more. Neither I nor the Bundys expect the politicians to agree with us, what we expect is dialog and a search for a solution.
If a politician or government official is spread too thin to handle the demands of the office, then we need to add more elected officials to a district or find a way to handle the demands of the office by removing the incumbent politician.
Along with the Bundys, we have thousands of prisoners who have not been to trial, who have not been convicted and who have been denied a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. They are subject to solitary confinement and to other unspeakable atrocities, while never having been convicted. That is absolutely, totally, indisputably, unequivocally unacceptable.
If politicians and their ballot boxes cannot or will not solve that problem, then what will?