Monday, January 18, 2021

Ballots or Bullets

There are only two ways to choose our political leaders: Ballots or Bullets. 

There are only two ways to settle disputes: Words or Weapons.  

There are no other options.  Choose wisely.  

History is nothing but a bloody, brutal account of what happens when you use violence to settle your differences.  War, genocide, tribal disputes, and religious battles have made all of human history blood-soaked trail of tears. 

There is only one brief time and one small place where we have managed use words and ballots to make decisions for any extended period of time.  That time is right here and right now. Western civilization, for the last few hundred years, has been relatively stable in terms of civil society and power transitions.   This has not been easy.   We had to discover through trial and error the best way to arrange society to allow for peaceful cooperation. 

The United States was expressly founded on the principles thathelp ensure we will have non-violent resolution of our issues.   We have created institutions and traditions designed to allow peaceful power transitions and a civil society.  Free Speech, Free Press, State Monopoly on ViolenceFree Elections, the Balance of Power, Minority Protections, Limited Government and an The Rule of Law with an Independent Judiciary are all foundations of our peaceful civil society.  They all play a role in ensuring that we do not devolve into the sectarian violence that plagues much of the rest of the world. 

We are currently in the process of destroying each of these institutions and protections.  We are, either intentionally or through neglect, undermining the actual institutions or our collective faith in these institutions, or both. 

Once we have lost our faith, and once the institutions are destroyed, we will no longer feel compelled to abide by the results of these processes or institutional outcomes.   When that happens, violence is the only recourse. 

People who are eroding faith in our institution are playing a very dangerous game.  Malcolm X pointed this out in his famous 1968 Ballots or Bullets speech, and in the words of Forrest Gump “They shot him”.  

Apparently, they didn’t like that idea.

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