Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Vote

Next week, a veritable handful of people in the United States will be voting in midterm elections. Provided the right people vote for the Right party (and both of the war-criminal business parties in the US are right-wing), some of those votes may even be counted.

Many commentators say the election will be a referendum on the continued taxpayer-funded bloodbath in Iraq, while others say it will reflect the response of Americans -- politically discerning as they are -- to various financial and sexual indiscretions of a small selection of the sleazeballs in the US Congress.

Little people push the little buttons on their little computers and stories about the Republican Party's imminent implosion appear in cyberspace.

I will not be taking part in the electoral fiasco in the United States next week, though I am registered in New York State to do so. The American political system, wrongly known by some of the more deluded among us as a "democracy", is fronted by the soulless, morally absent underlings of the business-class bastards fast-tracking the planet to unlivable, who would strongly detest the will of the people were they to know what it is. It is fronted by supposed employees of the people, who openly and proudly declare their support for torture and proto-fascism, encourage rampant xenophobia, homophobia, and ecocide, push narrow-minded conservative agendas into private lives, and use scare-mongering to claw their way to the top of the American political shit-heap.

I don't feel at home as a participant in this.

At what point should people cease to cooperate with the systemic destruction of their planet, conducted under the false guise of "democracy"? At what point ought people discontinue their active legitimization of rule by criminals happily signing away on murder, torture, bogus science, the weaponization of space and diplomacy as a series of enormous concrete fences throughout the globe?

The idea that Americans could vote this all into extinction if they wanted is a myth. As proof I could submit what occurred in Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004. But I prefer to think of a more important indicator of that myth. If Americans went to the polls next week in record numbers and swept the Democrats into power in local and national elections, what would change? Democrats would enact foreign policy to more effectively control the planet, with a better marketing campaign to go along with it. At home it would be business as usual, with a nod here and there to minimally slowing down the environmental destruction that is the American way of life. A few states might even allow people to control their private lives, regardless of their gender or sexual preferences.

But not one person from the party in power would challenge the mega-corporations actively consolidating their control of for-profit healthcare, prison management, news media, energy distribution, and so forth.

Look around for a moment on this here internet and you can find example after example of elected and appointed government officials brazenly denouncing democracy whenever it fails to line Yankee pockets. I wonder if it is even possible to name a single country to the south of the United States that has never had its democracy tampered with by its most unneighborly northern neighbor.

This is what Hillary Clinton, the incumbent junior Senator from New York, had to say last week regarding elections in Palestine earlier this year: "If we were going to push for an election, we should have made sure we did something to determine who was going to win."

Not only do I refuse to vote for people who hate democracy, I refuse to vote against them. Asking who one votes for in a rigged democracy is simply asking the wrong question.

If you live in the United States and can vote (that is, if you are neither a victim of the horrendously racist American judicial system nor what Americans have shamelessly taken to calling an "illegal"), and you truly feel that you must vote, there is at least one candidate worth supporting: Rosemarie Jackowski.

Rosemarie Jackowski is a dedicated advocacy journalist and activist working for social justice. A victim of continued abuse and miscarriages of justice, she is the Liberty Union candidate for Attorney General of Vermont.

In a response to a Burlington Free Press editorial endorsing the incumbant attorney general (a response that all of Vermont's major newspapers have refused to publish) Rosemarie writes
My global view includes a deep respect for the law. The most important qualification for the office of Attorney General is an absolute, unwavering commitment to Justice for all, young and old, rich and poor...NO politics, NO cronyism, and NO excuses.
She advocates the creation of a citizen watchdog group to monitor the policies of the office of the Attorney General, an end to paying for testimony during trials, and independent investigations into AG wrongdoings. Perhaps best of all, Rosemarie Jackowski knows exactly what kind of analogues can be drawn between an unaccountable Vermont Attorney General working against the interests of the people, and a similarly out of control, though more dangerous, United States Attorney General.

Whether or not you vote, consider passing on what I have pasted in below to friends and relatives who do. Rosemarie first entered it as a comment at Mickey Z.'s a few days ago.
NEVER VOTE FOR AN INCUMBENT -- Rosemarie Jackowski

Voting for an incumbent is like going back to the same dentist who pulled the wrong tooth the last time.

Voting for an incumbent is like going back inside your camping tent even thought you were just bitten by a snake there.

Voting for an incumbent is like re-marrying your spouse even though she cheated on you the last time around.

Voting for an incumbent is like getting in a plane with a pilot who crashed his aircraft last time he went up.

Voting for the incumbent might mean that you need a change in your medications.

Voting for the incumbent is like taking your computer back to the same repair shop, even though last time they told you that your computer needed a lube and an oil change.

Voting for an incumbent is a vote for “staying the course”.

Voting for the incumbent means that you believe that things can never get any better.

Voting for the incumbent signals the end of all hope for change.

Voting against ALL incumbents is the perfect way to achieve term limits.

10 comments:

vlad said...

"Not only do I refuse to vote for people who hate democracy, I refuse to vote against them."

Not that I disagree with you, Kier, but as someone who's not a Vermont resident (and who would vote for Jackowski if he could), what am I to do? Not vote for anyone? Are my comments in cyberspace (and presence at demonstrations, etc. etc.) to be the extent of my political participation? Why should voting be excluded from the tools at my disposal? And more importantly, in the words of a more influential political commentator than I, "what is to be done?"

Keir said...

"What is to be done" is for one to decide for oneself, but I think my suggestions for how to deal with a wide range of issues are implicit in the writings on (and links from) this website.

If you think voting in a rigged democracy is a useful tool, then vote. But consider Jackowski's mini-manifesto and vote against incumbents in your state. Vote for third-party, independent, or write-in candidates. Blackout the political parties embracing torture.

And please: don't think of voting, showing up at demonstrations, and voting every two or four years as "political participation". Whatever is to be done, there is more to be done than that.

David Peterson said...

Keir:

Every two years in the States, a lot of people get fired-up over the [fill-in the blank: the duty, the wisdom, the I'm-tactically-smarter-than-youness, etc.] of voting.

There is a critical point to all of this, of course, but its significance depends strictly on the concrete cases on the table—not some abstraction.

One of the saddest lines I was hearing (and from very good people, too) in the months prior to the 2004 national elections in the States held that the difference between a vote for the incumbent President and his Party versus a vote for the Democratic challengers entailed such large potential consequences for so many people (but in the closely contested states especially) that it would have been irresponsible to cast a ballot for anyone but a Democrat--including for Third-Party alternatives (e.g., Ralph Nader).

And then November 2, 2004, came and went. And what were many of these same very good people saying then, the pre-election posturing over? Well. That national elections in the States are like flipping coins anyway. So no big deal.


* “World Citizens Reject Torture, BBC Poll Reveals,” Program on International Policy Attitudes – WorldPublicOpinion.org, October 19, 2006 ( http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/261.php?nid=&id=&pnt=261&lb=hmpg1 )

* “What Kind of Foreign Policy Does the American Public Want?” Program on International Policy Attitudes, October 20, 2006 ( http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/oct06/SecurityFP_Oct06_rpt.pdf )


As for me? I'm always attracted to what I believe was the deep wisdom of a message on a protest banner in the States dating from either the 1968 or the 1972 national elections. (I saw a photograph of this banner in a book.--Marcuse would have loved it. No doubt.)

The banner affirmed, unashamedly: NOBODY FOR PRESIDENT.

More Buddhist than Disney. I’ll never forget it.


David Peterson
Chicago, USA

JOS said...

I am voting this time around...for Green party candidates and anyone opposing the war(s).

Anonymous said...

Keir, unquestionably a brilliant provocative post. But with due respect, you are wrong in your conclusion. Regarding voting, do NOT think globally, or in terms of continents, countries, states, or anything nearly that big. DO think in terms of the smallest governmetal entities. Like a little town or village, or even perhaps a small city. Think not of The Netherlands; think of Gouda, or Delft (been there; saw it). Assume for a moment that SOME form of government is required (do you know any truly functioning political entity that exists in an anarchic state today?). You can have major impact in the shape, form, tenor, and effectiveness of that small government by doing something on the inside rather than perpetually shouting from the outside. My little village (18,000 people) votes on Tuesday. I have been deeply advocating change since maybe December or January. We have an excellent chance of throwing the bums out. Firing them. If we succeed, it will be revolutionary in the sense that we will instantly transform how things operate and how decisions - vital ones - are made. And yes, if the newly elected leaders screw up, they would understand clearly that they will get fired too by the angry populace. That's how people can control their government. Out with the bad; in with the (hopefully) good. After all, we've Had Enough. Change is good. Work for it instead of negating the power of the masses and their vote. Carry On.

Keir said...

David, thanks for those links. This should make it easier for others to navigate to. If nobody runs for president in 2008, I will certainly vote.

JOS, as you know lots of candidates (many incumbents among them) are rhetorically opposing the "war" in Iraq. Is anyone opposing War?

Anonymous (6/11/06 at 3:20am) . . . Good morning. I was waiting for your comment. I know you are working hard in your village to dump the corrupt, racist sleazeballs running it (into the ground?), and I don't doubt your village has had enough. But let me clarify my conclusions:

1. If one votes, one should vote against incumbents (candidates and parties). If more people did this, watch new parties spring up fast. A good thing.

2. If one votes, and that's it, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. Pressure for change has to go beyond the voting booth. Had enough (of the rigged American "democracy") yet? Why wait until election day?

3. In terms of thinking locally, I'm thinking in terms of myself as an individual at the moment, and voting with my whole self. Thinking outside the box and all that. Can't help it: too many years of art school . . .

Anonymous said...

Art School? Well hey, been there, done that. Also too many years, probably. Made me into who/what/and where I am today, don't you know....Probably made YOU into who you are/what/where. But that's a whole other story. Regarding Number 2 in your comment, above, yes, yes, and yes. Couldn't agree more. I've been doing this for years. It's called getting up and speaking out in a public forum and advocating to CHANGE public policy. You will not get a tsunami instantly. But you can start a trickle, which can lead into a stream; then into a river; then an ocean! Be positive for CHANGE. Gotta start somewhere. If not, what's the option?

Anonymous said...

I will not be voting. If voting could change the current paradigm it would be a no no. I like the idea of fighting them when we choose and on our own terms.

Keir said...

For some on this planet to exist is to resist. For those of us living in relative safety (or at least the illusion of it), it might be more correct to say that to resist is to exist. To be absolutely clear: I think that's a positive outlook, and a way of living that guarantees change.

Anonymous said...

Keir, Funny thing. In my little village, we voted. All of the bums were fired; thrown out; lost. Our vote therefore GUARANTEES CHANGE. See? you're right. And oh, by the way, because we voted, Rumsfeld resigned! You don't think that's mere coincidence, do you? Next on the list is Wolfowitz; then Perle....We won't relax 'till they're all gone. Promise.