In a Wall Street Journal column that ran during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Thomas Frank quoted approvingly the judgment of an unnamed foreign journalist who described the proceedings as "a Potemkin village of democracy." In this vast spectacle of contrivance, Frank himself reported, "The only bit of hard reality to intrude [was] the heavy show of police force, with black-clad squadrons on horseback, on bicycles, on makeshift running boards attached to SUVs, blocking intersections, and toting at all times some sinister-looking riot-control weapons." That's oddly consonant with the view I heard expressed a few years ago by a fellow from Idaho—highly intelligent and resourceful—who was so far to the Right, he refused to get a driver's license. (Local authorities looked the other way.) Democracy, he'd explain, was merely a fa&ccedit;ade; keep a sharp eye out for the black helicopters.
A similar spirit animates most of the essays in Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting (Cascade Books). You might suppose, naïvely, that the authors hope to persuade others to share their viewpoint. Not really, though they gesture in that direction now and then. No, this is primarily a book about feelings—the essayists' feelings, their strenuous moral wrestling, their evolution to their present stage of enlightenment. I read a lot of books. I can't remember the last time I read a book as smug as this one.
"After reading [Mennonite theologian John Howard] Yoder," Andy Alexis-Baker tells us in the conclusion to his essay, "I find it even harder to see how Christians can, with integrity, participate in the nation-state's charade. I, for one, will abstain from such endeavors to ...1
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