by William Skink
It would be nice to have a representative democracy, just like it would be nice to have some justice within our criminal justice system, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious we have neither.
Yesterday the news came down that the Bundy clan was mostly acquitted on charges related to their armed takeover of federal land in Oregon. Both the media attention of this fiasco, and law enforcement’s use of kid gloves during the occupation, stand in stark contrast to what’s happening with the Dakota Access pipeline, where yesterday the police state escalated its crackdown on the protectors.
On the democracy front, Carol Williams has a message to millennials, imploring them to abandon their principles and forget the corrupt primary debacle in order to support Hillary Clinton. Let’s take a look at Carol’s pitch:
I understand that not all younger voters share my enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. Some of you may still be disappointed that Sen. Bernie Sanders lost the primary. I sure get that because I have been in your shoes so many times. Not voting is abandoning democracy and voting for a third-party candidate is throwing away your vote.
The reality of the corrupt primary process indicates democracy has already been abandoned by Democrats who preferred to impose coronation through underhanded, anti-democratic tactics. Not validating this corrupt system by abstaining from voting is a legitimate response, as is voting for a third-party candidate.
When I burned my ballot I didn’t expect accolades, and sure enough at Impotent Discontent, Pete Talbot responded, generally, to the sentiment of not voting with this:
To the anarchists out there who would like to see the whole, corrupt system crumble and aren’t voting, well, there’s some appeal in that. But it’s always a crapshoot in what might follow: could be utopia or could be totalitarianism. I’m not ready to take that gamble.
This is such a load of bullshit. Not voting doesn’t make someone an anarchist, and assuming that those not voting want to see the corrupt system crumble is crap. Personally, I would prefer we fix our corrupt system, but I don’t see the political will materializing amidst the corrupting influence of cash that drowned our democracy.
In the comments, James Conner joined the chorus with this familiar condemnation of non-voters:
Those who do not vote lose their moral right to complain about the results.
I vehemently disagree with this. I voted in 2000 when the election was gifted to George Bush by the Supreme Court. And I voted in 2004 when the election was again handed to Bush with rigged voting machines in Ohio. I voted in 2008, and 2012, and all the midterm elections. I’m done lending my consent to this fraudulent system. That doesn’t mean I’ve lost any moral right to complain about the results. If I don’t believe the results matter, why waste my time validating this system with my vote?
The situation in this country is analogous to the conditions that fueled the American Revolution: taxation without representation. While I can choose not to vote without legal consequence, I can’t choose not to pay taxes (with half of every tax dollar going to fund America’s imperial killing machine).
My vote, and the results of elections, no longer have much of an impact on policy. Money, and those who have a lot of it, are what impact policy. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s an evidence-based conclusion derived from studies like this:
In their paper, Gilens and Page use a dataset Gilens compiled for his 2012 book, Affluence and Influence, which includes 1,779 policy cases between 1981 and 2002 as well as poll data measuring citizens’ preferences regarding those policies. They used the responses of the poorest 10 percent as the poor, median income individuals to represent average voters and the preferences of the richest 10 percent as a proxy for “economic elites.” They also compiled the policy preferences of interest groups like the NRA and Chamber of Commerce. They then compared the preferences of individuals across the economic spectrum to actual political outcomes. When they ran the preferences of each group separately, as the sole predictor of policy change, they found strong congruence with the policy preferences of average citizens, elites and interest groups and outcomes (though the elite group had the strongest congruence). However, when they ran the model with all the preferences combined, they found that the preferences of the middle class no longer predicted effects on outcomes. They report that when the preferences of ordinary Americans and elites differ, “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” In short, the rich get what they want.
Despite this reality, politicians like Carol Williams desperately want young people to believe their vote matters. After a rigged primary, it’s a tough sell. And with all the evidence of what Hillary Clinton has actually done in 30 years of whoring servitude to her corporate overlords, Williams’ message to millennials is necessarily rife with illusionary smokescreen statements like this:
To implement the platform and guarantee the appointment of a Supreme Court that will align with our progressive values, repeal Citizens United and protect Roe v. Wade, we need Hillary Clinton in the White House and Sanders in a Democratic-controlled Senate. Plain and simple.
As she has done her entire adult life, Clinton will move progressive values forward. The other presidential candidates are unstable and temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief or are openly hostile about progressive values. Third-party candidate Gary Johnson does not even believe in climate change. And Jill Stein is peddling conspiracy theories and promoting a narrative that the vaccine regulation process in the U.S. is corrupt and untrustworthy.
To believe any of this crap, one has to remain willfully and aggressively ignorant of the Clinton neoliberal sellout of the 90’s, the complicity in promoting climate-destroying wars during the Bush years, and the core-deep corruption of monetizing the State Department during the Obama years, which included pimping fracking around the globe.
Anyone who trusts Hillary Clinton is either stupid or self-interested, and I don’t think Carol Williams is stupid. I think her family will monetarily benefit if Hillary wins, which to me invalidates anything Williams has to say, like this concluding appeal to millennial power:
Your decision will affect our country for years to come. This is your time and your year. Your vote is important. You have a voice and you have power. Please use it wisely. Consider voting for Hillary Clinton. You will look back and be proud you elected the first woman president of the United States and an extraordinary leader for all Americans.
Ask yourselves some questions, millennials. Do extraordinary leaders attack victims of sexual abuse in defense of rapists? Do extraordinary leaders celebrate the execution of heads of state? Do extradorinaiy leaders lie to the American public and the FBI while obstructing justice by destroying evidence?
If you don’t have enough life experience to understand how worthless your vote has become, then go ahead and bloody your hands by voting for the least evil sociopath to occupy the White House for the next 4 years. This GenX’er won’t be joining you, though, because I’m done participating in this fucking charade.
I voted for Jill Stein, 1-182, for my local and statewide candidates and against the other initiatives and Juras, too.
Our choices on election day are defined more by what is not on the ballot than what is. What people want from an election is not on the menu. Here are a couple of very popular items that come to mind immediately: 1) term limits for members of Congress; 2) mandatory balanced budget combined with a congressional pay freeze (if not reduction); 3) independent (non-party) candidates on the ballot; 4) limits on campaign spending and full disclosure of all campaign spending and names ( and country of origin) of all contributors; and 5) individual congressional declaration/approval of each and every military invasion of another sovereign nation.
Choices with real impacts are not on the menu, so sorry — not.
Federal election public initiative process would be really good tool to force popular/populist policies on the federal government.