A choice that matters

And here we are, Election Day, at last.  As I see it, the results will be in, or nearly so, by 9 or 10 pm, EST.  Today’s sophisticated tracking methodologies are such that they rarely fall short of measuring their targets.  While Romney may garner an impressive percentage of the popular vote, he will lose decisively in the electoral one that matters, with Obama snagging  300 electoral votes, maybe more.  In fact, the Electoral College, based on the last five elections, may well doom the party of Lincoln regaining the Presidency any time soon, unless it can broaden its base.  Unfortunately, the Tea Party zealots are not going to vanish any time soon, as Tom Brokaw reminded us yesterday.

For me, the interesting items to monitor embrace my native state of Massachusetts; for example,  the see-saw Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and incumbent Scott Brown.  Normally, Brown would be likely to win, but not in an election to decide the presidency.  Vastly outnumbered by registered Democrats, a Republican Scott victory would require a considerable surge in vote splitting.  That’s one steep mountain climb for the personable Scott, though polls show the race to be remarkably close.

Another nail biter is the public referendum vote before Massachusetts voters on the Death with Dignity, or Question 2, initiative.  Modeled after Oregon’s 15-year old legislation, it boggles my mind that it even got on the ballot, given the state’s heavy Catholic (44%) constituency.  Nationally, as well, Catholic leadership has pummeled the initiative and contributed big money.

My candidate, Jill Stein (Green Party), who also happens to reside in Massachusetts, isn’t going to impact voters very much today, so no suspense there.  But this initiative, characterized by its compassion and intelligent respect for human dignity, deserves passage, regardless of one’s party affiliation.  Two arguments are largely employed by those urging its defeat: the moral and potential abuse.  The latter, however, stems from distortion, since only those with a life-expectancy of six months would be eligible.

What disturbs me most are the lack of empathy and the imposing of religious belief, notably by the Catholic church and many evangelicals, on others.  As such, these interests are not that removed from those of Islamic advocates of Sharia law.  They are certainly not democratic interests in their overriding the individual’s sovereignty to choose for herself.  These elements had fervently opposed even passive euthanasia several decades ago until the Supreme Court changed the landscape.

What’s at stake here is poignantly captured in the testimony of Tim Kutzman, a Unitarian-Universalist pastor in Reading, MA.  In seminary, he was outspokenly anti-physician-suicide.  Then, while visiting his hospitalized congregants, he came upon a new realty in their interminable suffering and desire for release.  Kutzman relates the story of his close friend’s death, theater critic Arthur Friedman, who languishing from Parkinson’s disease, ultimately refused water and food.  “It rocked my world,” says Kutzman, now a staunch advocate of Question 2.  ( Asssociated Press)

In final retrospect, though I’ve lived elsewhere for many years, I’ve never lost my pride in hailing from Massachusetts, a bellwether state renowned for its achievements in education, medicine, high tech and front row advocacy on progressive issues such as Gay Rights.  Thus, what happens in Massachusetts on this issue carries resonance far beyond its boundaries. The opposition knows this well.

And so, knowing the likely outcome of the presidential race, I will nonetheless excitedly be monitoring the results for the initiative in Massachusetts, willing to believe that reason and empathy can once again trump parochial interest and promote human dignity.

Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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