I would vote for Mitt Romney because his campaign tugs at my heartstrings when I see things like this
The usual platitude goes something like this: if you didn’t/don’t vote, then you have no right to complain about the government. Sounds good, sounds comfortable… man, politics must be easy: bicker about nothing for six months, then cast you ballot for whatever candidate you were gonna vote for anyway. This is utterly specious, as systemic critiques cannot be undertaken unless you take a step back from the hologram of politics which has reigned supreme since color TV became a thing. If you were to vote and then go on to criticize the way our government (and elections themselves) are run, then you would be a damn hypocrite: if you hold that the electoral system is rife with systemic flaws, then why did you take part in it? Were you trying to hedge your bets or something? How did that work out for you?
The best way to curb revolutionary sentiment is to “provide channels through which rebellious impulses can be expressed in ways that are harmless to the system” (Kaczynski, Letter to a Turkish Anarchist). Voting is precisely this sort of benign channel; it is harmless, it is cutsie, it is inherently flawed and unworkable as a means for real political change. Organizations like Rock the Vote make the act of voting seem so revolutionary, so utterly, rebelliously, badass… how specious, how vacuous to think that the youth vote could do anything more than change the face of American oppression. In a nutshell, to vote is to participate in a grand, societal farce; it’s a distraction and it’s so masturbatory so as to not even be fun anymore.
This cutsie, tongue-in-cheek marketing gimmick really says it all.
The System is Rigged Like A Casino
That is to say, it’s all spectacle covering up intricate mechanisms that always stack the odds against you.
Let’s start with taking a look at how the US electoral system actually works. The Electoral College, and not the popular vote, decides who becomes president (we all remember the 2000 election quite well I think). A state’s electoral votes are assigned to a candidate based on how that state as a whole voted. If 51% of Ohio citizens vote Democrat, then Obama gets all of Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. Unless you live in a swing state, your vote will be drowned out by the several million other votes in your state. New York State will firmly vote for the Democrats; no amount of awareness-raising, or whatever, will change that.
Yellow states are toss-ups; only if you reside in one of them do you get to choose your evil
The American political system is virtually entirely a two party system. Except for Ross Perot’s schtick in ’92 (which was both a fluke and unexceptional: he was just another casino-capitalist imperialist), a third party has never and will never attain any semblance of victory. In fact, voting for one of the “alternate leftist” parties like the Green Party or the Working Families Party or even Socialist Party USA actually helps the GOP out: that’s one more vote that the Democrats aren’t getting, drawing the margin between the two sides of the coin closer by hurting the only party that (nominally) poses a threat to neoconservative hegemony. Multi-party systems (think Germany, France) have two-tiered elections, the latter consisting of party coalitions: in this situation, your vote for a third party, for one which genuinely represents your interests, does count for something. But that’s not how it is stateside.
And it is always just two sides of the same coin: Bill Quigley composed an excellent list recently which has since been reblogged more times than Newt Gingrich has tried for the presidency. It’s called “Fifteen Issues This Election is Not About” and it serves to underscore the fact that, of the issues which matter most to US citizens (stopping the war, marijuana decriminalization, curbing corporate influence in politics), both politicians talk about exactly none of them. Here’s the thing: both parties are corporate-sponsored, militaristic, totalitarian, nihilistic spendthrifts (don’t let conservatives fool you, the Ryan budget will actually increase national security spending, the US government’s single largest expenditure). Both parties are pro-war, pro-nuclear energy, anti-marijuana, anti-gay marriage (talk is cheap, Obama), pro-surveillance state, pro-Wall Street… Need I continue?
If you possess even a kernel of critical skepticism in your soul, or if you hold in your heart a deep wellspring of healthy cynicism, you probably already know all of this, so I’m going to get down to brass tacks: voting is a poor choice because it distracts you from meaningful political acts. When you cast your ballot, you undeniably feel some sense of civic purpose and achievement (you’ve been conditioned to feel this); if you’re a young person, you’ll feel a personal sense of victory when your candidate (Obama) wins. This is all holographic, 3D bullshit: you are merely a part of a voting demographic, and as such you have been both conditioned and predicted to vote. The average American voter will, after the results are broadcast, inevitably rest on his laurels: he has done his part, it’s time to sit back and wait another four years.
So Stop Playing Around and Blow It The Fuck Up
Voting gives you a false sense of accomplishment, kind of like putting your change in the Ronald McDonald House box in a McDonald’s or buying TOMS shoes. You feel accomplished, but you really haven’t done all that much, have you? I’m not saying we should stun the world with the depth of our apathy, I’m saying that we should express ourselves politically, but we need to get creative, we need to avoid claptrap polemics and intellectual shortcuts and feel-good substitutions for true political action. The reason everyone has a responsibility to participate in politics is not because it’s a dainty civic activity and a once-in-a-leapyear novelty, it’s because it’s an existential obligation to society and posterity, it’s a real-time historical es muss sein type of thing. You must take part in politics and work to express your social will onto the world at large; do not squander this, don’t bitch out and think that you did something important by voting for Obama again.
Madrid, a couple days ago.
Shit, there’s occupations and actions going on in every major world city. Spanish protesters have barely left the streets, most recently surrounding the Spanish Parliament and calling for the immediate resignation of the entire government. Greeks are taking to the streets, battling the police and the tyrannical technocrats not with lesser-of-two-evils votes, but with molotov cocktails. There are countless things you can do, because everything you do is inevitably political. Start with this: make damn sure your daily life correlates with your political views, don’t be a hypocrite, don’t be a cop-out, sell-out necktie nihilist.
Then Get Out and Don’t Get Dragged Back In
The next time you feel a gleam of hope in seeing Obama talk about doing something about student debt, the next time you feel a sympathetic pang in your heart upon seeing Romney carry out another embarrassing gaff and you wish you could just hug him and tell him it’s going to be okay, put those thoughts the fuck away. These people don’t give a shit about you, they don’t represent your interests and they will not bring about a more just society. Both of them will fuck you, fuck you so hard. They may do so in different ways, but what does it mean to choose your doom when your choice is just a matter of preference?
Refusing to participate in a farcical political spectacle barely worthy of tabloids is a start. Call it civil disobedience, call it what you will, but don’t feel pressured to conform to laughable social norms. Do not vote and when people ask you about it, tell them why you’re not voting. This is the first step. Take it from there.