Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Not Vote AND Work for Change in Other Ways?

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.


Daisy said...

The old bumper sticker was "Don't vote, it only encourages them!" :)

I totally understand this view, since my one-time political mentors, the Yippies, believed this way, while also engaging in strategic voting... which I tried to explain on my blog (I voted in the primary for Ron Paul, to take votes away from pro-war Republicans), but lots of folks really didn't seem to get it. People are brainwashed to think voting matters more than it really does.

I've always voted, and probably always will, but a principled stand against non-cooperation with the system is something I will always respect.

Maegan la Mala said...

My mentor (rip) always told me (and others) that voting was just one weapon in our toolbox to be used when it really mattered and yes, always in conjunction with other weapons.

It's something I've struggled with. But I guess as a Rican here stateside, it's important for me to try and vote especially since our colonial status doesn't allow my relatives on island to vote.

It's that damn double age sword.

Tigera Consciente said...

Amen Blint! I am 110% with you on that! I laugh at people that tell me, "so you think that your 'inactivity' is going to change the system? By not voting?" Inactivity? If anything I believe voting immobilizes people into thinking that those on top can only be the ones to affect change, when it is only the people's power and activity that is going to affect that change...

I think a lot of people don't bother to vote because they know it "doesn't apply" to their condition. The poorest of the poor will stay poor and marginalized, and the rich will continue to be appeased by the system they control anyway. This Obama craze is making me sick. Hilary and Barak are playing the same political game the rest of them did, and they will heel to the same institutional and economic pressures that past presidents have...

Salspua said...

Watching this whole "campaign" is like watching adults take professional wrestling seriously, and insist that it is my duty as a responsible American to take it seriously, too. If only the consequences were as innocuous.

I like "the right to complain" argument. Do I get my Right To Complain Voucher as soon as I vote? Should I make sure I vote for the loser so no one can question my right to complain?

Personally, I'm working on getting off the grid and as much out of commerce as possible.

Thanks for posting this piece.


bint alshamsa said...

Personally, I'm working on getting off the grid and as much out of commerce as possible.

We all need to be doing this, in my opinion. This empire is crumbling. It's just a matter of time before the institutions that people put their trust in implode. Then what will we do? We'll have to find some way to keep on living our lives. The sooner we become as independent as possible, the better, as far as I'm concerned.