Hobby Politics

As you cast your ballot, what issues will guide your choices?  Do you care most about war and peace, the environment, the climate for business or educational quality? Most of us have opinions about foreign policy, about climate change and about the social safety net. We may be passionate about infrastructure, care for our veterans or openness in government but not to the exclusion of all else.

Then there are a few single issue voters.  Are you one?  Perhaps you vote exclusively based on environmental issues.  You see disaster looming if we don't halt climate change now, a disaster that eclipses all those other issues.  Or maybe the free enterprise system is your one issue.  You believe that national -- even global -- well being rest on a healthy business climate, a rising tide that lifts all boats. You'll vote for the candidates that hew closest to Adam Smith or Ayn Rand. Maybe civil liberties supersede all other issues for you.  Nothing matters more than protection of civil rights, human rights.  The importance of torture, the rights of the accused, free speech, equal treatment and religious freedom transcend all else.  These single issues are eternal values, not just today's popular stands.

I commend those single issue voters, the folks with a deep abiding passion for one big idea.  Those are the folks who speak most clearly, who effect real change.  But don't confuse them with those for whom their single issue is just a devotion to their hobby.

I live in a rural area.  Here are many single issue voters.  Few though fall into the "big idea" category.  Unless of course, gun rights and smoking marijuana can be called big ideas.

Many of my neighbors belong to the NRA and fear government coming for their guns.  Any mention of safety regulations, banning assault weapons or cheap hand guns arouses passionate opposition. No politician dares venture into that territory. Collecting weapons is a popular local hobby. So is hunting (though I've never heard anyone suggest banning hunting rifles).  Mitt Romney signed a law as governor banning automatic weapons in Massachusetts.  That troubles some of my Republican neighbors more than anything else he has done or said.

Other neighbors (rarely the same folks) will make their ballot decisions based on candidates' positions on marijuana use. The Obama administration has been chastized for raids on marijuana farms locally (Oregon law allows limited numbers of plants for medical card holders and their assignees).  Biden's association with the war on drugs renders him unfit for office according to these folks. I know Democrats who won't support the Obama-Biden team because of their opposition to marijuana.

Every now and again, I stumble into writing something guaranteed to offend my friends.  It's a character flaw.  But for the life of me, I cannot see making election decisions -- choosing the government of the world's most powerful country -- based on one's hobby.  Let's look beyond our guns and joints and seriously consider the issues that affect the other seven billion people on the planet.

If you'll do that, then I won't oppose privacy protections because they interfere with my genealogy hobby.


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