Better Things to Do Than Voting: American Pseudo-Suffrage and the Illusion of Hope

This post is not about the electoral college.  It is not about a better Third Party Candidate.  This post is about a seduced people and the facade of democracy.  An oppressed populous that has internalized the image of the oppressor. image borrowed from

Change does not happen from the top down.  God tried that for a few thousand years, bossing around the Israelites,  but it wasn’t until God entered into the human experience from the very bottom of society (born among the animals, a peasant of migrant parents) that true redemption and change was discovered.

One might argue that in the United States of America, our collective voices every four years determine the course of our future.  To that I ask, “How dehumanizing is it to accept the common belief that one day of every four years, I have a voice?”

Americans generally agree there is something wrong with our current political, social, cultural, or economic state.  Our reasons for arriving at this conclusion vary across an endless spectrum, but it is nevertheless something we largely agree upon.  But how have we become so obedient to our unique system of pseudo-suffrage that we accept the idea that the proper method for creating change is by changing (or not changing) the man at the top of the global food chain every four years?

Public schooling, for me at least, was the first place this doctrine became embedded in my American mind.  Voting was taught as an inherent good.  This  neo-Eusebian narrative is chronicled in the history curriculum.  Children are told “we” fought for our “freedom to vote.”  In fact, now women and black people can vote too!  What a democratic society we have created; the best in the world, indeed!

What is not written in the curriculum, but nevertheless has much more influence in the political makeup of our country than our votes, is the corporate-controlled superstructure.  Corruption has become legalized in our nation.  The gas-drilling companies, the health corporations, the food giants, the technology lords, and the manufacturing and automobile industries find it profitable to employ a lobbyist.  (Corporations were given individuals’ rights in 1886 after the Supreme Court decision on Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which is unjust, because I, as a non-profit day-laborer, cannot afford a personal lobbyist.)  These lobbyists scratch the backs of politicians, beefing up their campaigns and consequently seducing the public, and the politicians who win the office return the favor.  The types of games one must play to stand an ounce of a chance at even running for the opportunity to be elected to sit in the Oval Office, make two-second solo decisions about which kids to kill in the Middle East, and play as much golf as one desires, are the types of games anyone with even the most mild moral conscience simply cannot play.  These games are played at the expense of the poor, the middle class, citizens of other nations, and the environment.  From a long-term standpoint, they are often played at the expense of the super-wealthy .00001% of the populous as well.

Imagine a world where presidential candidates had to wear jackets like Nascar drivers every time they appeared on TV or in public.  Their sponsors would be visually evident.  The truth would be told.  Campaign money for the far right GOP/Tea Party candidates, as well as the almost-just-as-far-right Democratic Party candidates would be in plain view.  People might wake up from the nightmare of popular presidential candidates presenting themselves as radically different from each other.

Of course, there is a difference between Romney and Obama.  It may not be a big one, but they are two different people at the very least, and that difference may affect how they govern in a very minor way.  Romney’s rhetoric, in the recent tradition of the Republican party, is honest and heated.  To any reasonable loving person, Romney’s values would be rejected in a heartbeat, so there is no need to make further comments about his potential frightening control of office.  Those with their heads on somewhat straight can see it plainly.

Obama is a better politician (in the negative sense).  He simply lies about things (not that Romany doesn’t).  He sets himself up as a friend to the poor, a friend to the environment, and a friend to victims of anything anywhere.  But let’s not forget this is pretense.  He has kicked more immigrants out of the country than Bush, all while speaking well of them.  He has not ended Bush’s wars and has in fact started more, despite being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He has fracked our land, perpetuated torture (after promising to end it), and developed much more intense systems and laws allowing for violent espionage of the people he is supposed to serve.  His administration has imprisoned and tortured whistleblowers and nonviolent activists.  His foreign policies, like many before him, are to roam and pillage the Earth, sacrificing human lives and igniting irreversible ecological disaster (consider his massive increase to over $100 billion in military aid to Israel).  The types of tools developed to fight his wars are terrifying.  This is the epitome of right-wing oppression, but the masses, many of my friends included, have been seduced by his hypocritical speeches.

In light of the inherently undemocratic system (questioning the morality and unveiling the shortcomings of a truly democratic system is a topic for another day), here are some ideas for what you can do while your friends take a few hours to stop by the polls on Tuesday.  I actually believe these ideas are more capable of creating change than your vote is:

  • Knock on the door of a neighbor you’ve never met.  Tell them your name, point to where you live, and let them know you are available if he or she ever needs you.
  • Fast and pray.
  • Apologize to someone you have done wrong.  Ask for forgiveness.
  • Dig through your trash and use some of the pieces to create something pretty.
  • Plant a tree somewhere on public land, like in a small grassy spot of a parking lot.
  • Take a nap.

By the way, I do think that change is possible, although the system is evil.  I believe that there is hope, but it cannot be found through suffrage as we know it (or by “voting with your dollars”).  Our methods need to become more radical, in the nonviolent sense.  Tax resistance, deliberate slacking, civil disobedience, and overcoming fear: these are the types of methods that will spark the fire that fuels the inferno of liberation, freedom, peace, wellness, and holistic prosperity.

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  1. Not that I disagree with, well, anything you’ve said here, but something happened to me on election day that led me to vote. I was pretty dead set against voting until I considered that, at least in this case, my vote could potentially contribute to gay rights being supported and bills allowing gay marriage to be passed. In the grand scheme of the election, I can’t say my vote mattered a whole lot, but I definitely felt a moral conviction to cast a vote in favor of others receiving their rights due to them (and in at least four states, they did). I don’t want to give the impression of being high and mighty, but is it possible that casting a vote not necessarily in favor of a candidate but to the benefit of a group without rights makes voting worth it? Thoughts?

    • Sure, good thoughts. My point is not so much to discourage voting as it is to combat the uniquely American narrative that voting is inherently good and the sum total of one’s civic responsibility. “Let you voice be heard,” they say.

      In the case of gay marriage, I would still advocate for a methodology which is more effective than voting (though not intentionally to the exclusion of voting). Perhaps the clergy could just start marrying people without the state’s authority, for example.

      Voting has been used to depose dictators, but rarely (if ever) has it succeeded without additional means which add to the movement’s effectivity (i.e. poll monitoring, civil disobedience, media disruption, etc).

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