Politics and the Federal Employee

{The Political Lamp is Lit}

I have not been very vocal on this blog about politics and this very important election.

There is this law called the “Hatch Act” that limits federal employee participation in partisan elections. It is very straight forward for most employees. But there is a huge gray area for those of us that work out of our homes. Among other things, the Hatch Act stipulates that a federal employee can not engage in political activity “while in a government office.” I have a home office, and it may be a tad paranoid, but I can clearly envision a disgruntled person that disagrees with anything politically partisan I might say, turning me in to the FBI for investigation, simply because my federal “office” is also my “home.”
Additionally there is the stipulation that federal employees can not “solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency” which can be interpreted to mean not only the businesses that provide services and products to the government department I work for, but also those individuals that seek service from my department. In short, it could be construed as illegal for me to ask a veteran to vote for a specific partisan candidate; from US President down to County Sheriff.

I am paranoid because I have seen good and decent civil servants harassed and vilified in recent years. I have no doubt that if I gave the Hatch Act a looser interpretation, and if my political opinions embarrassed or angered certain people, that I too would become one of the harassed and vilified.

I have said all of this because I do have something to say.

I just didn’t know how to phrase it in a non-partisan way. But thanks to Karen Ellis, UK author of the online comic, “Planet Karen“, I can quote someone else, and get my point across with poignancy and humor, and stay within my Hatch Act paranoia. (The emphasis in the below quote is Karen’s.):

“Sure, I don’t know much about the big, complicated picture, but I do know, because I saw the guy stand up and say it on TV, that one of the candidates thinks it’s okay to torture people. And I don’t care if he’s promising free ice cream and comics for all, that means he would never get my vote.
“The people of the U.S.A. like to see themselves as the bastion of hope and freedom, fighting against evil and tyranny. That’s a great ideal, but I just want to point out at this time that you can’t play the Rebel Alliance when you are building the Death Star.”

Make sure you vote. As we have seen in 2000 and 2004, every single vote does count and can make a difference.

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