Saturday, February 16, 2008

To Vote or Not to Vote...

“There is a difference between an inconsequential left and a consequential right, the difference is they both do the same things, but one says they don't.” Subcomandante Marcos

There is simply no way for democracy to adequately function within the capitalist system. For that matter, we cannot consider our federal system a democracy... perhaps it's a republic, corportacracy, state capitalism? It's certainly not a functional democracy. For this reason, I can only conclude that to participate in the presidential elections is to uphold a corrupt system and makes us complicit in its crimes.

Bought and sold by big money, Clinton and Obama (like Republicans) are in no way beholden to those they pretend to represent. They have prostituted themselves to those that are truly running and "electing" our leaders! Are they different then the Republicans? Sure, they do the bidding of big business in sheep's clothing, making their airs of benevolence that much more hateful!

It is often purported that Hillary is left of Obama. This is flatly false. She is and has always been the candidate of big business: a reality that puts Hillary in a position directly in conflict with the struggles of the poor, unions, social, environmental and economic justice. She was featured on the front page of Fortune magazine as the best candidate for big business, for god's sake! As the article points out she has been allowed to get away with--and I have heard many reminiscing with her--saying that the 90's were better. But it was the 90's in which all of the vicious free trade deals that crushed unions, the working class and the poor of the earth were devised, "negotiated," and signed! By supporting the business agenda she is also promising to accelerate environmental destruction of our planet. The poisonous elixir of free trade agreements that reduce environmental standards which allow corporations to further pollute our planet and her stated rejection of the Kyoto Protocol is the recipe she has in store for our world. She is also the candidate that repeatedly voted for the Iraq War and is muscling up to be tough on terror and national security. She is morally reprehensible and should not be thought of as someone above the fray of prostitution "democracy." She like all other candidates is opportunistic, power hungry and vetted beyond human recognition.

It is utterly insulting to hear Hillary Clinton use the slogan "Sí se puede" which she has shamelessly co-opted. This slogan is meant to overthrow tyrants, not to be used by them!

When discussing the issue of whether or not to participate in our elections, the issue of welfare, social security, funding for education, etc. is an often repeated concern. Well, the Republic of Lakotah pointed out that despite the generosity of the U.S. government for the past 155 years in the form of welfare and food stamps, they have the lowest life expectancy for males of any nation in the world (44 years)! They have an unemployment rate of 85%. An amazing 97% of Lakotah people live below the federal poverty level! And the suicide rate is 150% of the national average! Wisely--I think--they decided to go at it alone. I have no idea what their plan is. Frankly, it's not my business. But I can honestly say that they couldn't be much worse off no matter where in the world they were living, so why not try a new direction? In relation to voting, what has it gotten any American Indian? What has voting achieved for any of us? Real change has never come from voting, if it did, they'd outlaw it!

Please bear in mind that the TV/Toothpaste Elections intend to make us feel as though any of these candidates actually cares. They smile at us and make us feel reassured that someone is going to stick up for us. Someone is going to calm things down, "get us out of the war" (remember this recent promise?), unite the "divide" in this country, etc., etc. But it is the PR industry that elects our leaders, and "super delegates," not us!

By the way, is the country actually divided? No. The country is not nearly as divided as we've been led to believe. Confused? Yes. In the abstract we are divided, but placed within context our country is far less divided. A recent NY Times/CBS poll showed that 64% of Americans would willingly pay $500 more per year in taxes in order to have universal healthcare! Americans want out of the war…immediately! Americans overwhelmingly believe CEO's make an unfair, bloated salary and believe money should be more fairly distributed. The majority of Americans believe we should be signed onto the Kyoto Protocol. And on and on and on. So why is there such a huge disconnect between public policy and public opinion?

To me the answer is simple: we continue to allow our system to shill false hope that anything of significance will come from federal elections and so each time we vote we further legitimize our system, and so are complicit in the drawing out of global misery. We also demonstrate a measure of contempt for democracy by knowingly participating in this sham. Just think what it would be like if Americans were appropriately aware of this sham and through a rapid decrease in participation gave a vote of no confidence to our federal system. If we coupled abstention from voting with education and organization, we could build a resistance to mental colonization and prepare ourselves for how we are going to have to provide for ourselves. Couldn't this lead to democratic changes? Possibly an end to the two-party dictatorship? Or Instant Run-off Voting? Or campaign finance reform? Or more?

If our concern is democracy than we should protect it, fight for it and stand up for it by creating it on our own in the workplace, and local communities! No to federal elections!


John in Montana said...

I was having a similar discussion/argument the other day with a friend. I informed my Obama loving friends that I wasn't voting because I don't want to give my power away.

Interestingly, from the little bit of Chomsky I have read and arguably understand, he thinks that alternative forms of governance can spring to life by using the "democractic" system that so many of us have become inured by. In other words, instead of focusing our efforts on breaking down the machine, look at ways in which we can use it against itself to create something more just. A political framework recycling scheme. Can we all vote to eliminate "representative democracy" and replace it with Bookchin's municipal libertarianism? That's one line I'll stand in to vote for. That idea is seems to be a rather large rift in how different people think we can achieve a horizontal structure. Che and Emma crystalize my point by saying that if voting changed anything they'd make it illegal.

Change gears. Do you ever get the feeling that some leftys have the mentality that if we can just get _____ into office things will be better. It seems like we need to stop putting so much faith into other people to save us. Checking a name on a sheet of paper isn't going to do shit. It starts at home. It starts by talking with your neighbors.

So what is one to do? Vote for the lesser of evils? What if the vote mattered in your state in terms of Obama v. Mccain? To play cynic, maybe things need to get even worse, to the point where the middle class hits the streets because voting doesn't do or mean anything to them. Polemically speaking, maybe I should vote for Mccain or Mitt. Will they put everyone over the edge? For how fucking awful Bush is, people still don't seem to be too fired up. Again I think it goes back to being too comfortable/lazy to get off the proverbial couch and do something, coupled with the idea that we are putting our faith in someone else.

Renegade Eye said...

Subcomandante Marcos refused to join the campaign of Obrador. His group ran an isolated campaign of their own. They were asked to join the movement, and their demands would be added. He refused the offer.

I have nobody to vote for. I would support a party as a labor party, based on a split with the Dems.

I was thinking about the contradiction between Obama's actual practice in office, and the expectations of his supporters.

I don't reject voting on principle. Voting is not rejected by the majority of people. If he had an electoral alternative to the Dems, that would be our 1917.

troutsky said...

If we achieved a 99% abstention it might spark some real action but the Spectacle insures a few principled non-voters only get lumped in with the apathetic and illiterate.Making it a crime against the revolution, to charge complicity with capitalists because one puts an X by a name, seems to fetishize the whole experience and may tend to alienate possible "converts'.Your power is derived from what else you are doing to organize and agitate and seems little affected by this exercise.

Ché Bob said...

Subcomandante Marcos refused to join the campaign of Obrador. His group ran an isolated campaign of their own. They were asked to join the movement, and their demands would be added. He refused the offer.


This is an over-simplification. "Marcos" didn't refuse to join the campaign, the Zapatistas and hundred of thousands of Chiapas indigenous did. Could you imagine the effect it would have had on the Zapatistas 24-year struggle if they had relented to pressure from intellectuals and asked the communities directly affected by the PRD’s violent attacks on their villages to turn around and vote for them? The intellectuals of Mexico have no right asking the Zapatistas to vote for the PRD! Were the intellectuals staring down the barrels of guns from PRD police forces?

The Other Campaign was brilliant and continues to inspire an actual grassroots movement in a way Obrador never could.

beakerkin said...

Che Bob

You really are reality impaired. If things are so bad why don't you pack your bags and depart. Renouncing your citizenship is quite easy and takes mere minutes.

How about we set up a charity send a commie to Cuba

The conditions are

1 You renounce your citizenship
2 You promise never to return for life.
3 If you violate number 2 American Patriots get to tar and feather you.

Now run along and pretend you are webolutionaries.

Ché Bob said...


Have you been to any of the Montana Indian reservations? You know that there are inside the U.S., right?

Have you been to New Orleans? You know which country that city is located in, don't you?

Have you been to Brownsville, TX? Do you know that Texas is in the U.S.?

Have you been to Flint or Detroit, MI? They too are inside the borders of the U.S.

Have you been inside any of the thousands of "safety-net" health clinics around our country?

Do you seriously deny the U.S. Government census data that say 12% of Americans live in poverty? That's inside the richest country in the world! 49 million U.S. citizens don't have health care coverage. What planet are you living on?

Where do you live? Do you travel? Where do you travel? Are you wealthy? Are you white?

beakerkin said...

Hey Traitor Bob

Have you been to the Northeast kingdom or West Virginia? How about the South Bronx or Camden. The poor often own their own homes and cars.

Compare this with endemic food and housing shortages caused by marxist malfeasance. Food is always readilly available and so is housing.

The question is not where I travel.
The question is who is subsidizing your jet set life. If you Theresienstadt tours are being subsidized you need to register as a lobbyist and report those subsidies to the IRS. How does a teacher afford all those trips? How does a trout guide afford those trips?

I have been to plenty of places you
haven't been. I would sooner live in any of those areas you mention
than under Marx in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Caracas or Havanna.

All the people who come into the office where I work and tell stories of human rights abuses in the above countries must be deluded. It seems the person who is reality impaired is you.

Pardon me is I object to your delusions of god hood and Ren's aspiration to create neoslavery.

Daniel Owen said...

I guess it's kind of semantics, but I've never considered anarchism to be democratic. Democracy implies representation. Democracy also implies a kind of system I'm not sure I like -- one in which the majority decides everything, even stuff that doesn't effect them.

I just wrote a blog post on this exact subject, by the way! Check it out.

Ché Bob said...


Take a breath!

I was asking those questions seriously. Have you been to our Indian reservations?

Is your idea of a good thing owning a car and living in a rat-infested apartment? You are a true neoliberalist pig. In your warped mind, freedom to buy=freedom. Justice and equality are foreign concepts to you. You will not be denied the right to exploit others so that you don't have a damned thing about your changing your life or lift a damned finger to help others. You'll defend to the death (with the life of someone else's boy) the right to be a capitalist pig!

There will indeed be no room for your tyranny, violence, exploitative and vile ways when the house of cards comes crumblin' down. You're out Beaker! You'll have to move in with your fascist friends and plan a counter-revolution!