In a discussion about politics, I told someone about how I don't really see there being any reason for me to vote for either Obama or Clinton. Yeah, I know it's an unpopular stance but it's one that I've become more and more adamant about in the past few years. Anyway, in response to what I said, a woman asked me why I didn't just vote and work for change in other ways.
The idea of doing both makes sense, if the situation was just that voting was a benign act. However, in my view, it isn't. You see, every vote that's cast lends credibility to the system; it says that we accept the system as legitimate. After all, if millions of Americans have voted, then it's harder to prove that most people would prefer some other particular system. I mean, we have a system where less than half of the electorate actually votes. Still, if someone wanted to change the power structure, at the very least, they'd have to find a way to prove that more than 100 million people (approximate number of voters in 2004 presidential election) also want these same changes. Otherwise, it's easy to argue that more people would prefer for things to stay the way they are.
Also, as I see it, when politicians use their office to engage in some sort of corruption, the people who voted for them are, at least, partially responsible for what occurs because it was their actions that put the politician in a position to do what they did. Unless I have some way of knowing that a candidate isn't going to use his office to engage in unethical behaviors, then I don't really want to help put him in a position where he may do just that. Cooperation is only subversive if you're not cooperating with the system that's causing the problems.
Lastly, there's the issue of finite resources. I only have so much time to devote to political activities. I could campaign and vote for a particular politician in the hopes that he might address a few of the causes that I believe in OR I could work for to change the world myself, devoting the amount of time for each cause in a manner that is commensurate with how important it is to me. I think that my time is better spent doing the work myself because that's the only way I can really know what does and doesn't work and what needs to be done to effect progress.