Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters

Why do I read the Santa Fe New Mexican’s letters to the editor? If my husband and I are both in a good mood and we read them together, we can have a good laugh about them, but reading them alone just depresses me about the state of our poor, pitiful democratic republic when so many of its citizens refuse to think rather than feel.

A few days ago, fellow Santa Fean D. G. Lindberg responded to the objection of our token conservative columnist Gregg Bemis to same-day voter registration:

The fact is that I can easily imagine circumstances that would prohibit a voter from registering early; there may be a very small probability that these circumstances will occur, but that’s not the point.

If there’s a possibility that a single citizen can’t exercise his or her right to vote because of an arbitrarily determined cut-off date — and let’s face it, registration cut-off dates are arbitrary — then the process is clearly flawed. If sufficient verification protections are established, what possible objection can there be to maximizing the opportunity for citizens to exercise their rights to vote, even if it means registering at the last possible minute?

Where do I even begin? This sort of thing makes me want to launch right into one of those sarcastic, profane rants Rachel Lucas was so good at before she started blogging about her dogs instead of politics. Not that I blame her; I get burned out on politics too. I have been lately, which is why there’s been more about my kids than about politics on my blog of late. A couple of months ago, I’d have been all over that cheap hood Blagojevich the minute the story broke. By not doing so, I made the folks at Reuters happy. But their happiness will have to be short-lived, because I’ll get to that bribe-guzzling vermin in my own sweet time.

Now, about Mr. Lindberg’s letter: he points out that “registration cut-off dates are arbitrary.” Yes, they are. So is the April 15 IRS deadline. So is the deadline to enter the Pillsbury Bake-off. So is the closing time of an e-Bay action. So is the closing time of the polls on election day. Everything is arbitrary. But especially deadlines. What is a deadline besides an arbitrary time chosen for something to end? If we can’t have arbitrary deadlines, how can anything ever function?

And how about, “I can easily imagine circumstances that would prohibit a voter from registering early.” Never mind that I’ve been voting for more than a quarter century and have always managed to meet the registration deadline and vote. Maybe some people are more incompetent than I, and they deserve some consideration. Or maybe they’re just unucky. Taking a page from celebrated atheist Richard Dawkins, I can easily imagine that a Flying Spaghetti Monster could swoop down from the sky and snatch a guy just as he was about to turn in his voter register form before that diabolical, arbitrary deadline. Okay, so no deadline. But wait. I can also imagine the Spaghetti Monster snatching the voter as he’s about the enter the polling place at the last minute before the arbitrary poll closing time. Horrors! That means there’s a possibility that a single citizen can’t exercise his or her right to vote because of an arbitrarily determined poll closing time! We can’t have that. Therefore, extending Mr. Lindberg’s logic, the polls can never close.

And so the conclusion: “If there’s a possibility that a single citizen can’t exercise his or her right to vote…then the process is clearly flawed” (emphasis mine). Yes, the process is clearly flawed. It’s flawed. Yes. Flawed. Imperfect. Not flawless. Uh-huh. So what? Everything human beings create is flawed. The electoral college is flawed, since it can result in the election of a candidate who loses the popular vote. The direct election of senators is flawed, since it can result in the election of people like Ted Stevens and Chuck Hagel and Harry Reid and even — God help us — Al Franken. If the electorate of whatever state she lives in is stupid enough, Paris Hilton could be elected a U.S. Senator once she turns 30. (Or is she 30 already? Sorry, but I don’t follow stupid celebrity gossip so I don’t know.) Should we therefore repeal the 17th Amendment and let governors and state legislatures pick our senators again? Personally, I don’t think they could botch the job any worse than my fellow citizens, but that’s just me.

The thing secular leftists don’t seem to get is that perfection just isn’t possible in this sadly imperfect world of ours. Accept it. Get over it. Live in the real world, not some utopian fantasy land where nothing ever goes wrong and nobody ever misses an arbitary deadline due to legitimate bad luck or the intervention of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Voter registration systems aren’t perfect because nothing is perfect. Nothing. Is. Perfect. NOTHING.

Except maybe the prune, pecan and apple stuffed roast pork loin I made night before last. That really was culinary nirvana, and probably about as close to perfection as a dead pig can get. Dead pigs, by the way, are one of my very favorite things to cook.

But enough of wonderful, nearly perfect dead pigs. Let’s talk about contemptible, altogether imperfect live pigs instead. Rod Blagojevich is just about as imperfect as a live pig can get, isn’t he? A cheap, money-grubbing swine with his filthy snout in the public trough. A state of the art product of the corrupt Chicago Democratic political machine.

When something is as foully imperfect as the Chicago Democratic political machine that produced the spectacularly and incompetently corrupt Rod Blagojevich, you try to get rid of it. When something is as potentially imperfect (i.e., requiring something along the lines of a hypothetical Flying Spaghetti Monster to demonstrate its imperfection) as a voter registration deadline, you accept it and live with it.

Comments 5

  1. Dan wrote:

    I’m not sure I understand the point of this post. Yes, the election process is imperfect – I don’t see why that means we can’t seek to correct flaws in it. The registration deadlines as now stated aren’t immutable and aren’t stated in the US Constitution, so why not endeavor to improve them? The Poll Tax used to be a rule too, and we got rid of that.

    The rest of your post seems like handwaving to me – pointing at things you don’t like like Richard Dawkins and (for some reason) Chuck Hagel. I don’t see how corrupt or insufficiently conservative politicians relate to improving the election process to ensure that citizens can vote.

    Posted 15 Dec 2008 at 5:04 pm
  2. Jack wrote:

    Dan, I don’t think you got this post. The point is that any deadline and arbitrary and therefore the process is never going to be perfect. How, exactly, do you want to correct the process to make it more perfect?

    Also, Brigette didn’t take any potshots at Richard Dawkins. She just used his spaghetti monster metaphor to illustrate a point.

    Posted 22 Dec 2008 at 4:40 pm
  3. Dan wrote:

    I think its pretty obvious that if we can save voters the extra effort of having to make two trips to the polling place – one to vote and one to register – it is a more perfect process. I have yet to see any real argument against same-day registration.

    I personally reregistered *twice* this year and they still didn’t manage to update my street address after moving last year. As a result I didn’t get to vote in my state house or senate races.

    Posted 23 Dec 2008 at 3:50 pm
  4. Jack wrote:

    You don’t have to make two trips to the polling place. You can get a voter registration form at the post office or the public library or probably even online, though I haven’t checked. Then you put it in a mailbox. Since when do you have to go to the polling place to register to vote? Oh, and then there are all those tables outside grocery stores with people taking voter registration. I’ve even had people with clipboards stop me as I was walking across the Plaza to see if I wanted to register. I guess if you never go to the post office, the library or the grocery store, then maybe registering would be a problem.

    Posted 23 Dec 2008 at 10:58 pm
  5. Dan wrote:

    Can you give a single reason not to allow same-day registration?

    Here are the pros: If some clerk somewhere screwed up your registration, or if the post office lost it, you can correct it on the spot when you vote.

    Here are the cons:

    Posted 24 Dec 2008 at 4:35 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 4

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    […] Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters …or her right to vote…then the process is clearly … the election of people like Ted Stevens and Chuck Hagel and Harry Reid and even — God… […]

  2. From US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Comment on Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters by Dan on 16 Dec 2008 at 4:43 am

    […] Comment on Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters by Dan Yes, the election process is imperfect – I don’t see why that means we can’t seek to … immutable and aren’t stated in the US Constitution […]

  3. From US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Comment on Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters by US… on 16 Dec 2008 at 9:50 am

    […] Comment on Live pigs, dead pigs, and disenfranchised voters by US… …by Dan Yes, the election process is imperfect – I don’t see why that means we can’t seek to … immutable and aren’t stated in the US… […]

  4. From Moralia - Rituals human and divine on 29 Dec 2008 at 5:49 pm

    […] (whom you can read in the American Spectator as well as at his blog) recently quoted a post of mine in which I wrote, The thing secular leftists don’t seem to get is that perfection just […]

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