In the shadows below Mt. Rushmore,
waiting for the dawn to light up the faces of the presidents guarding me, I
wondered how they would vote in the presidential elections now a few days away.
Photographers get to wait a lot for that right shot, in my case, sniffing
around in the dark like some raccoon. The gift of predawn solitude includes
uninterrupted musing with a fresh mind in the cathedral of nature.
Washington's dark visage reminded
me of how his followers were dumfounded at the end of the American Revolution
when Washington refused to be king.
"It's the natural order of things,"
they probably said, "the way such things were always done."
Washington told them how they were
all embarking on a new adventure, a different, democratic way to do
"All kidding aside," they said.
"The war is won. You don't have to say those things any more."
And then General Washington laid
his sword at the feet of the fledgling Congress and went home to
Consider how today's politicians
are ready to sell their grandmothers into slavery for power, stepping on
everyone to claw their way to the top. As a general, Washington had known
power, and his ego surely wanted more. And then he showed us how to honor one's
Then I thought of how I was part of
the current system, projecting my ego with my vote. My way or the highway. How
could those idiots not agree with me?
Traveling this country, I've seen
this ego projection metastasize into an alarming hatred for the other side.
Hillary Clinton isn't a ditzy politician with sloppy email habits, but a
fundamentally evil person worthy of a bullet in the head. Obamacare isn't a
mistake as much as the plotings of a loathsome Muslim in hiding. And lest we
assume this is a Republican preoccupation, let us remember the Democratic
hatemongering that marked the Bush presidency.
If we check the country's
hatemeter, it seems to be going up, and it's not in the interests of
politicians to turn it down. They like the power they amass espousing
us-vs-them conspiracies. It's up to us, and the fellows atop Mt. Rushmore told
me how to do it.
We have to begin by changing why we
vote (not whom we vote for). It shouldn't be a projection of our will as much
as a service we do for this fine nation. Long before James Surowiecki wrote
The Wisdom of Crowds, our Founding Fathers suspected its fundamentals,
in fact, they placed a large bet that it could lead to a better form of
government. We need to look at it the same as if a friend asked whether she
should serve Coke or Pepsi at her party. We give the best advice we can, but we
don't harass her to go with our recommendation. We have to trust her to use our
So, how did the boys atop the hill
suggest I vote? That is always the punchline. Although I think Clinton is a
dedicated and respectable statesman (statesperson?), we Republicans don't agree
with her tax-and-spend approach to solving our problems. I base this on some
timeless words from the second guy atop Mt. Rushmore, "A government big enough
to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you
Although I agree with some of
Trump's slogans, I don't like a guy speaking of women like pieces of meat and
hiding his tax returns. But the nail in his coffin came at the close of the
last presidential debate. When asked if he would bow to the will of the voters
if they didn't agree with him, he made it clear that he wasn't ready to trust
us and democracy all that far. His ego seems to find it more important to
become President Trump, to achieve The Donald's ultimate branding
So it was that I betrayed my party
and decided to vote Libertarian. At least I like their "less government = more
freedom" slogan. I am under no delusion that my candidate will win, and more
than one of my friends has told me that I'm throwing away my vote. But the
take-away from Mt. Rushmore was that I am not responsible for what happens to
my vote, only that I vote my conscience.
Voting is just a duty I perform for
my country, like picking up trash along the hiking trail. What the country does
with my vote is no more my concern than what they do with the contents of the
trailside trash can. This country has suffered buffoons in the past and come
out OK. And every now and then, I believe this system will produce someone
outstanding enough to add to Mt. Rushmore. That is trust and love, and I'm not
ashamed to admit that I feel both for my adopted country.