Today is the Fifth of November.
While I am fully aware of the history of Guy Fawkes, I cannot erase the poignancy the Fifth of November has for me, largely due to the graphic novel and its liberally interpreted movie, V for Vendetta.
For many Americans, the Fifth of November has become a reminder of the tyrannies we face in our society today. A warning that all it takes for oppression to rule is for good people to remain complacent. It is a reminder that liberty is something we must fight for, and the longer we wait, the more difficult that fight will be.
The Fifth of November is a splash of cold water—one that gets colder every year—of where we could be going.
Tomorrow is the Sixth of November.
It is also Election Day. It is the day of the year where many people take an hour off from their jobs, pile into school gyms, public buildings, stuff themselves into curtained cubicles, and cast a ballot for President of the United States.
For many, voting is the privilege of living in a democratic society. We are given the opportunity to choose people to represent us, and we have some say (however small that might be), in the way our country is run.
However, as members of the dominant world power, voting also comes with an enormous responsibility. The way we cast our votes determines the future of millions of people who do not have the resources to fight against the tyranny we impose upon them. At home, as the power of the presidency grows ever more expansive, the responsibility becomes more enormous still. How we vote determines the lives of people in our country as well.
By tapping the computer screen or by poking through a chad, you are making a moral decision. Not just for yourself, but for your neighbors and for the rest of the world. This is the nature of democracy.
So when you look at the ballots tomorrow, think about what you’re doing. The candidate you choose, if he is of the two main parties, will sacrifice the lives and liberties of a few for the supposed-wellbeing of a few more. If you vote for President Obama, he will have already done these things. President Obama has killed more people in four years than President Bush did in eight. He has sanctioned the due-process-free killing of American citizens. He has extended the PATRIOT act. I suspect Romney’s record would be similar.
How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly there are those who are more responsible than others…But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
These are V’s words to an onlooking London citizenship, and they are my words to you today. By casting your ballot you are not voting against someone, you are voting for someone. You are sanctioning their actions with your vote; you are saying, “This person represents me.” When your candidate of choice violates your rights and the natural rights of people in the world, and you want to know who is guilty, you need only look at yourself.
It doesn’t matter if the candidate you believe in has no chance of winning. It doesn’t matter if one of the main candidates is slightly less evil in your eyes. What matters is what you think is good, what your values are, and who you choose to represent you.
I’m not telling you who to vote for. I’m telling you how to vote. Vote your conscience. Vote for the person who has your principles. Then, and only then, will you follow V’s example. Then, and only then, will you have done democracy right.
Tomorrow, when you go into the ballot box, if you choose to do so, ask yourself: If I had V’s courage to stand up for what is right, what would I do?