Aren't elections a total sham in the US? Even when candidates fail to buy their way into office, they can still buy influence over the winners. But you can't and I can't. Why not? How is the whole occupation in Afghanistan going for you? It's been nine years. At least Iraq is violence-free post-Saddam. Right? I'm not so sure about all this democracy. Has democracy made the air cleaner? Or the water more pristine? Has it prevented poisons from entering the soil? Or any oil from spilling out anywhere? How is democracy working for migratory birds? How is it going for whale populations and rainforests and starving children in a bountiful world?
Every two years some Americans like to vote. I like to do something better. I reflect on Thoreau's On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, the slim essay that influenced Goldman and Ghandi and King. One of many wonderful lines worth meditating on: "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." I think about this often, and when people get election fever I want them to think about it too.
I don't vote in rigged elections. (Here are my salvos on the subject from 2006 and 2008.) But I understand some people believe the democratic process works, so I address the following to them:
If you need to vote, avoid incumbants. And members of political parties. And career politicians. And rich people. And white men. Don't vote for women with the hearts of men. Or candidates from marginalized groups who have adopted the consciousness of their oppressors. Avoid racists. Avoid bigots. Avoid homophobes and misogynists. Never vote for anyone willing to devote any public funds for war or occupation under any circumstances. Never vote for anyone with a flag pinned to their clothing. Avoid anyone who eats meat, smokes a cigar, or plays golf. And anyone who owns or is on the board of a corporation. Don't vote for the relatives or spouses of politicians. Or anyone who has ever invested in the stock market. Avoid anyone who uses the word "homeland" and is not referring to indigenous rights. Don't vote for anyone who has ever acted professionally, or anyone who has ever participated in corporate sports. Current or former military personnel should not get your vote. People ordained to preach any religion should not get your vote. Nor should people who have had elective cosmetic surgery. Never vote for someone whose slogans are more memorable than their policies. Never vote for someone whose clothes cost more than yours. Never vote for anyone who says "god bless America" and isn't clearly joking.
I am totally serious. Thanks.