01 June, 2008

If You Don't Vote, Then Don't Complain

Obviously, I strongly disagree with this statement. Well, maybe it's not so obvious to you. But being a non-voter who is inclined to complain about the way things are, it reasonably follows that I would disagree with that statement. There's this really perverse notion in this country - this pro-voting hysteria - that suggests that a person who chooses not to vote is also choosing to give up certain of his rights. Like the right to voice his opinion, for one thing. "If you really gave a damn, you'd vote. Since you don't vote, then you're all talk. You're a hypocrite. You're wasting our time." Bullshit.

Okay, so this country is supposed to be run by a democracy, or something similar to a democracy. By the people, for the people, of the people, all of that stuff. But I'm afraid it's not that simple. There are people, and there are persons, and frequently the people trample the persons. But the reason that this is a problem, is because not one of us is a people; no, each and every one of us is a person, and each of every one of us is getting trampled by the people. Luckily for the majority, they are persons that most closely resemble the people, and so the damage done to them is considerably less. But for the minority persons out there, it's a nightmare.

I've explained this philosophy before. What I wanted to say was, the idea of a democracy is that every person gets a say in the governing body. Politicians do the governing, and it's our votes as citizens that represent our participation in that governing. It's a representative sort of thing. But that's exactly where the "democracy" part fails. How the fuck am I supposed to get my voice heard in the governing body, when I'm in the minority? We're running on a popular vote system here. The minority will ALWAYS lose. It doesn't matter if every single minority voted for their cause, the majority will STILL trump them. Voting is a meaningless exercise in this context.

Take Code Geass. Suzaku and Lelouch both want the same things - a peaceful world where people are treated with respect. At least I think that's what Suzaku actually wants, sometimes it's hard to tell through his hypocritical actions. Anyhow, the difference in their two methods is key. Suzaku wants to work within the system, but what Lelouch understands that Suzaku fails to see, is that Britannia itself is corrupt. As long as Britannia remains in power, Suzaku and Lelouch's goal will never be completed. That's why Lelouch is determined to fight and overcome Britannia, to install his own better plan for the world. Suzaku can spend his entire life working within the Britannian system, getting promotions here, overturning rules and bylaws there, but he will never accomplish that goal, because Britannia is Britannia.

Aiming back at the democracy thing, and the American Empire, voting only encourages them. The greatest thing you can do is to not vote. Imagine the result if a record number of people simply did not vote. Do you think it would mean that all those people simply don't care? Of course they care. It would be a powerful wake-up call to the people in charge, a huge message of "this isn't working, and we refuse to continue to take part in it."

Am I implying that the American government is so corrupt that it needs to be overthrown? Perhaps, but I don't necessarily feel that strongly about it. This is just an example. I am only a minority, and no matter what my opinions are, it won't make a difference, because I'll always be drowned out by the voice of the majority. So it doesn't really matter what I think or say. But my ultimate point is, voting does nothing for me. Whether I vote for Candidate A or for Candidate B, it's not gonna change my life or my world in the way that I want to see it change. When faced with two evils, I refuse to willfully choose either one. I don't support evil. (Keep in mind that there's a HUGE difference between what I consider to be evil, and what the majority labels as "evil") . Does this mean I have no right to complain about that evil? Ridiculous.

I don't vote, but don't take that as a sign that I don't care enough to speak out. Quite the contrary - my willful choice not to vote is the loudest call I can think to make to profess my personal feelings about the issue.


  1. I have an odd relationship with voting: I recognize that my vote means next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I think it's essential for everyone to get out and put their drop in the bucket so that we *truly* elect people who represent the majority. Right now we're electing people who are popular among whatever demographic demands their voice be heard. I agree that taking it to the extreme is the only way to effect real change—but I'm on the other end of the spectrum, dialing it up to 100%, because then even the minority would make enough of an impact for politicians to take note. You don't always need to win in order to send a message. And abandoning the process altogether would leave the power entirely in the hands of the three people who missed the memo and showed up to vote anyhow.

    It bothers me when people are too lazy or cynical to take 10 minutes out of their day to increase the odds that they'll be better off for the next 4 years. Refusing to participate because the system is broken is a different matter entirely. I argue that it's broken in part because the general public isn't using it right, but I can respect your rationale. (It probably goes without saying that I sided with Suzaku the whole time.)

  2. Haha, yeah, I'm definitely a Lelouch.

    I was also thinking recently that keeping up with politics is a full-time job. Not only do you have to know what the issues are and understand them, you have to know where each running politician stands, and then you have to gamble on the likelihood that they'll stay consistent and keep their promises.

    One of the many good reasons I don't vote is that I don't know shit about who I should be voting for, and I'd rather abstain than vote blindly. Maybe that's me being lazy, but I don't trust anyone to have my issues at heart, anyway; being on the lunatic fringe just amplifies that. I know that just puts the power in the hands of those who do vote blindly (or impulsively), but I have such little faith in the mechanism of democracy that I don't see any significant difference between our government with me voting versus our government with me not voting.

    And, anyway, our democracy is NOT designed to represent the majority - not even the majority of voters. As explained here:


    It's a broken system. Unfortunately, fixing it means taking power from those who currently hold it, and I'm a nonviolent activist. So, basically, I believe we're all fucked, and there's little point in me banging my head against a wall that's not going to budge. In other words, I support the George Carlin approach.

  3. Up until this last election, when it suddenly became absolutely impossible to avoid politics, I never bothered to keep up. Whenever an election rolled around, however, I spent as much time as possible doing research on the various candidates (all of them, including the likes of Vermin Supreme and the dude from the "9/11 Was an Inside Job" party, which I swear I am not making up). Since getting married, I've had the opportunity to compare notes with my wife (you know my wife) on the way over to the polling place, and we've both changed each other's mind at least a couple times. Even if this isn't the best system of being informed when I vote, it's one that's allowed me to stand by my choices.

    That being said, I've always felt the system is broken, though not so broken that it's unusable. I usually point to the Electoral College being harmfully outdated, but that video makes a very compelling case against the system as a whole. I watched the follow-up video about the alternative system, and I actually had the same idea after voting for my first major third-party candidate who fell through. I detest the "us versus them" mentality of the two-party system; and as one of those fringe voters, it bothers me that I find myself voting AGAINST people more and more.

    Assuming we survive to the next Presidential election, I strongly suspect we'll see some kind of fundamental change to the political system. Hopefully it'll be for the better, but I'll settle for just different at this point.

  4. I have a confession to make. Back when nobody intelligent believed that Trump *actually* had a chance at winning (boy, were we naive), I secretly wanted him to win. Not because I thought he deserved it the least bit. But because I thought it would shake up enough people to change the system. That they would realize the fundamental flaws in democracy. But when it happened, people just doubled down. And as horrible as Trump seems (even to me - someone who normally ignores politics), I'm starting to question whether the behavior we're seeing is really that much different than what's gone on in the past. Is Trump really worse than Bush was? Or is it the same cyclical pattern repeating itself? Am I just more aware now because I've spent more revolutions around the sun? (I'm cynical to the core).

    I have the (mis)fortune of having [thankfully limited] involuntary exposure to the opponents' mindset (as many of us do, belonging to mixed families), and it amazes me, but some people have no higher an opinion of Obama than the most vociferous accusers against Trump. I feel like one is *objectively* better than the other, but that's getting into shaky philosophical ground. I'm shrewd enough to realize that the similarities between the two dominant parties are greater than their differences, and I have my quibbles with the "liberals" (e.g., I think free speech is more valuable than safe spaces, and don't get me started on feminism - not women's lib, not equal rights, but feminism). And that's kept me disengaged so far (why vote when neither of the two realistic possibilities represents my interests?).

    But at this point, I'm willing to take my chances with the lesser of the two evils. I can lock horns with the liberals, as someone who shares a lot of common ground with them, in spite of our differences. But, though I might agree with one or two things conservatives support (although I might be hard pressed to name them - rugged individualism or some such?), their whole platform sickens me so much lately that I've lost my patience with them. (It probably also doesn't help that I'm surrounded by them now). To the point that I'm willing to forego my principle of abstention and vote in the next election for ANYONE who has the best chance of toppling Trump (unless they are even worse - I leave that possibility open, but I can't honestly imagine what that would look like).

    Which sounds an awful lot like the status quo, just with one more zombie at the polls, feeding into this broken system. It really is true that in this past election, /nobody/ has won. I thought Trump would change things - by his incompetence, not by "draining the swamp". Turns out things are more the same than they ever were before. Won't get fooled again? Yeah, right. That's the thing about democracy, coupled with Sturgeon's Law. Putting the power into the hands of the ignorant masses prevents tyranny of a sort, but it also prevents intelligent rule. There's a problem we should be working on: how to put power into the hands of those who deserve it, while keeping it out of the hands of those who don't. In lieu of a better solution, I'm fond of the Day The Earth Stood Still method, although I doubt our AI is up to snuff just yet.