It's probably not that unusual, but it does seem a little strange that the way I get an absentee ballot in North Carolina is write a letter and ask them to send me one. And all this to just throw away my vote on a third-party candidate.* I have poorly learned the lessons of political science.

*(I was legitimately on the fence about this until the whole Conor Freidersdorf/LGM dust-up about protest voting. Obama seems incontrovertibly worse on civil liberties than GWB, not least his belief that he can extrajudicially order the killing of American citizens so long as he thinks really hard about it.** Not that Romney would be better on this score (though it's hard to imagine a man as flexible as he is would possess the self-belief needed to think that bad actions wouldn't taint his decision-making; he's Bobby Bowden to Obama's Joe Paterno), but I was narrowly convinced that the likely closeness of the race in North Carolina might mean that it made sense to vote strategically. But the LGM responses convinced me there's a real danger in thinking each person should consider their votes decisive and each election a crisis in which the world will fall apart with the wrong vote: sometimes you have to think in the longer term.)

** There may be some future politics-and-ethics class where we consider whether Obama might be the politician with dirty hands from Walzer's "Political Action" article. I suspect not: the politician there must believe that their action is wrong, but do it anyway. But it'd be interesting to discuss.

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