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"Happiness is not an accident. Nor is it something you wish for. Happiness is something you design." ~ Jim Rohn

Make Mine Freedom

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Les Miserables Republicans

Jean Val-jean is the protagonist in Victor Hugo's epic tale of human nature, Les Miserables. At the beginning of the story, he is a prisoner of the French penal system having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's family.

Time in prison hardens Val-jean so that when he is paroled he is not so much a rehabilitated citizen as a strengthened survivor set against the world. It is in this state that Val-jean meets Bishop Digne who offers him a place to stay and rest. It so happens Digne owns several valuable candlesticks. Val-jean, who no longer has faith in men or God, takes a set of candlesticks and flees with his loot.

Val-jean is arrested and returned to the Bishop to account for his behavior. To the surprise of Val-jean and the police alike, the Bishop gives him an alibi and offers him the better set. After dismissing the police, the Bishop issues his ultimatum to Val-jean as presented in the musical by Cameron Mackintosh:

But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!

This interchange effects Val-jean as the Bishop intended. Val-jean changes his life and becomes a contributing member of society even to the extent that he owns a factory and becomes the mayor of the town in which he lives. The reader of the book, and the audience of the musical recognize Val-jean's change of heart and change of being.

Val-jean, however, cannot escape his criminal past, for Javert, a dedicated policeman is constantly pursuing him. Through the plot of the story, we learn that Javert is a good man with high ideals of justice and the rule of law. He is a relentless officer constantly vigilant for the next law breaker. In his eyes, Val-jean is a criminal because having once broken the law, an individual is prone to continue breaking the law regardless of time and circumstance.

Yet, Val-jean, stronger from his years of penal service, has several opportunities to kill Javert outright but does not. In fact, in a critical moment Val-jean not only spares Javert's life, he also provides, without obligation, an escape route for the proud officer. At length, this baffles Javert because a petty criminal cannot do noble things.

Victor Hugo may not have intended for his masterpiece to be an allegory for US politics, but it is abundantly clear that the allegory exists anyway.

On the stage of American politics, the stakes are higher than they have ever been in my memory. Should Obama be reelected, I fear that the US will have her first dictator and the experiment established 223 years ago will be decimated, annihilated and purged from history. Consequently, those who desire to see the experiment continue (particularly Republicans) need to unite in electing a capable individual to replace Obama.

Unfortunately, they are far from united. The Republican National Convention has concluded, and Mitt Romney won the nomination, and yet, there is a maddeningly persistent campaign on social media and elsewhere to illustrate why Mitt Romney will be a bad President and why we should vote for Ron Paul.

It's one thing to advocate a third-party candidate like Gary Johnson. It's quite another to denigrate the nominee of the party to which one claims membership and advocate an individual who neither won the nomination nor remains a candidate for office! After all, Gary Johnson is still a candidate and a nominee for the office of President. He is representing the Libertarian party but that does not negate his candidacy.

I have a number of friends who are proud Ron Paul supporters. They are generally good people and do not typically belong among that group of Ron Paul supporters whose abrasiveness gives progressives a good run for the title of "most vicious" in politics. They love the Constitution, the United States, liberty and sovereignty. They also find supporting Mitt Romney to be a violation of their individual consciences. Many agree with the following clip of former presidential candidate Alan Keyes:

Let me be perfectly clear: I understand the concerns addressed by Mr. Keyes and my friends who still do not support Mitt Romney. I respect their opinions and their determination to vote their conscience. My intention here is not to have anyone violate his or her conscience.

It's true! Mitt Romney's record in government has a whole slough of problems and issues--many of which have been addressed by Romney himself. Yet, like Val-jean, Romney cannot escape his political past. As the Governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a universal health care bill that became the model for the "America's Affordable Health Care Act" often referred to as "Obamacare." During one of the debates leading into the primaries, Romney revealed that he supported the indefinite detention clause of the "National Defense Authorization Act."

These are two positions that many Constitution loving Americans find deplorable and unforgivable. Never mind that Massachusetts is one of the most Liberal Progressive states in the nation. Never mind that while Governor, Romney balanced the budget every year and improved education in Massachusetts. Like Javert did with Val-jean's renewed lifestyle, ignore the good in Romney's political career.

If you've read this far, please understand: I am not writing this to whitewash Romney's errors. I'm not writing this to advocate a lesser-of-two-evils vote in November. I'm writing this because I'm concerned there may be too many unforgiving Javerts in the Republican party. I'm writing this because Republicans should unite behind their nominee--even if he may be far from your own estimation of a good option.

Never to my knowledge and memory has there been such a critical election as the one we face in November 2012. If your conscience will not allow you to oppose Obama by voting for Romney, then you best root for a landslide third-party victory because,


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