Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"If You Choose Not to Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice"

This was the first Election Day I can think of that I didn't participate in, and that was not a choice I made lightly.

However, not voting is not always synonymous with apathy. It's not that I don't care who wins; it's that I don't think it makes any difference who wins, because the system is so hopelessly broken. Candidates make lofty promises, and then they get elected and break them. Money rules both major parties. Our so-called public servants vote for what their corporate benefactors and special interests want, not what we want. And while the parties distract and divide people with wedge social issues, there's virtually no difference between them when it comes to crucial matters such as foreign policy and civil liberties. They both vote for more war, and more violations of our Constitutional rights. Meanwhile, the largest corporations enjoy massive tax breaks, we gut our social programs for the neediest among us, and the cost of higher education and health care continues to spiral out of control.

As Ralph Nader -- a man who should have been president -- once said, so succinctly and so brilliantly:

Why would I give my assent to a system like that? I can't do it any longer, not in good conscience. As I once saw on a bumper sticker, "I tried voting, but I kept getting the same result."

Besides, I don't hear anyone talking about the issues that are important to me: repealing the Patriot Act and NDAA indefinite detention, reining in the NSA, ending the drone wars, stopping the militarization of the police, redirecting military spending to social programs, helping make education more affordable, working toward single-payer health care, fighting asset-forfeiture laws, making it harder for government agencies to kidnap people's children merely on the basis of a medical disagreement, stopping the spread of laws that are criminalizing homelessness and the efforts of the people who try to feed the homeless. Give me somebody who says he or she will take on even half of that list, and maybe you could grab my interest. Until then, I really have no incentive to participate.

I've read lots of people's thoughts today about voting, and I've shared several of my own on my Facebook page. I love that people are passionate about this topic, no matter which side you fall on. You should absolutely do what your heart tells you to do, whether that means dutifully going to the polls or turning your back on the system in protest. My belief is that direct action can be just as effective as the ballot box in bringing about change, and that's the approach I intend to take going forward, time and health permitting. Petitions, protests, you name it. We need more Occupy movements and more Tea Party movements. We need our elected leaders to see that they can't continue to turn their backs on us -- that we're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. The peasants need to pick up their torches and pitchforks and storm the castle, as it were.

Constantly swapping the same two parties back and forth, as we've been doing ever since the Civil War, really isn't getting us anywhere. As it's been said time and time again, the lesser of two evils is still evil. It's time to demand new ideas and new approaches. Instant runoff elections, getting money out of politics, proportional representation that would make third-party voting relevant instead of an empty protest and would eliminate the anti-democratic winner-take-all system ... that'll work for a start.

But those things aren't going to happen under a D-R duopoly, which is why I've withdrawn my support. The only way the people in power will get the message is if we stop supporting them, their broken ideas, and their rigged system. Jefferson himself said that when a government ceases to serve the needs of the people, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. I don't know what shape that kind of reform would take, but before you go off reporting me to Fatherland ... er, Homeland Security as a threat to national security, keep in mind that I'm a pacifist. My preferred vehicle for change is to follow in the path of Thoreau, Gandhi, and MLK -- passive resistance and civil disobedience. Violence only begets violence.

Change can take many forms, and that means there's also more than one way to cast your vote. You don't have to check a box on a piece of paper to make your voice heard. Following are some thoughts I've borrowed and compiled from people who, like me, expressed their desire today to think outside the ballot box and find alternative ways to build a better world.


There's a better way to vote. In fact, you can vote EVERY day.

You can vote with your spending power.

Whom are you choosing to make rich? Which company will spread your dollars around Washington and influence votes to buy our so-called "public servants"?

Are you growing food? Conserving energy? Saving seeds? Conserving water? Are you putting space between yourself and the material-based culture that has turned us into consumers first and human beings second?

You can vote like this every day.

That other thing they call "voting" is no more than choosing between two indistinguishable political parties, neither of which represents the people, but rather the interests of the powerful business elites that rule the world.

The only way to "win" that election is to not play the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment