Why Should I Vote?
By Timothy V. Gatto
27 October, 2010
I’ve been getting appeals for donations from “Bold Progressives” and other groups with names like “Americans for a Free Society” and others with like-sounding names. Basically however, they almost all represent the two corporate political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, both of which are neither progressive, nor do they support any kind of “freedom”.
People tell me that voting is not just a “right” in this nation, but it is also a duty. They tell me that many have died so that I can cast my ballot on the second Tuesday in November. They tell me that it is a sacred responsibility that binds us together as a people. Voting is something that we should all take very seriously and that if you forfeit your right to vote, you are forfeiting your right to speak out on the issues. Like most political issues, this is patently ridiculous.
Voting has become something of fraud in and of itself in the United States. We have become the ones that legitimize the theft of our representative republic by the corporate plutocracy that has taken control of our political system. Reform should have happened long ago, and because it hasn’t happened, the powers that control the political system are too well entrenched to hold out any hope of changing the way that politicians are nominated and elected in the USA.
Before any meaningful change can come to the political arenas in this country, Americans must first understand how the system actually operates, and unfortunately, most of us don’t have a clue. Many Americans think they understand political realities in this nation, but sadly, they don’t. Many people believe that all it takes to get elected in America are a few good ideas and someone that can express those ideas to the people. It would be great if this were true.
The Democrats and Republicans have had such a lock on the political system for so many years, they have virtually eliminated any meaningful form of competition from any other political party.
Sure, there are other political parties out there, but they are there to give the appearance of robust alternatives to the two corporate political organizations, not to actually provide any real choices. How did these two parties manage to accomplish this? What happened to the so-called “checks and balances” that were designed to prevent just such an occurrence?
The last time that any meaningful competition came from outside the Republican or Democratic political camps was the emergence of Ross Perot who ran for President in 1992. Even though he garnered almost 19% of the popular vote in a three way race, he didn’t manage to capture any electoral votes. If the United States was a true Democracy (or was based on a Parliamentary system as in Europe), Perot’s candidacy would have been a game changer, instead it remains a footnote.
Getting a candidate on a ballot is something that the RNC and the DNC have managed to make virtually impossible. (1)
This is just a brief summary of ballot requirements. The other essentials for a successful bid for elected office, the campaign and the advertising of a candidate are cost prohibitive. When one witnesses the Presidential election on 2008, one can only remember how Former Senator Mike Gravel was shut out the debates by General Electric and then Rep. Dennis Kucinich after him to see how corporate control of the political process was just about total in its control of who received the political exposure that was needed to get elected.
Now we really must look at the “differences” between the Democrats and Republicans. Even if the two parties were diametrically opposed to each other (which they are not), can only two political parties represent all of America’s 240 million potential voters? Especially when both parties claim to represent the ‘center’ of the political spectrum and are neither “right” nor “left”, just exactly what are the differences? If this were indeed the case, why is it important to vote for either party, especially when they openly declare that they are “middle-of-the-road” political entities? How ridiculous is this really?
It is fairly obvious that the Republicans represent the conservative end of the political reality. This has different meanings to different people. Some say that “conservative” is a description of a “socially conservative” view on things. Others claim that their conservatism is a type of economic conservatism based on less government spending and smaller government as a whole. If this is indeed the case, how do they justify the years of the Bush Administration when government spending went through the roof and eventually led up to the financial breakdown of the financial sector? Well, blaming the entire crisis on the current President is one way of doing it.
The Democrats on the other hand, claim that they are the party of the people and that they are the ones that have had to clean up the mess that Bush and Company left. Obama was elected on his mantra of “change”. In reality, nothing much has really changed. In his two years in office he has refused to close Guantanamo, rescind the civil-liberty-killing laws such as The Patriot Act, The military Commissions Act, The John Warner Defense Bill of 2006 (which rescinded Posse Comitatus, the law that prevents using Federal Troops for law Enforcement), torture, extraordinary Rendition of suspected “terrorists” to US client States for questioning using torture, and the refusal to appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine if Cheney or Bush broke the law by torturing suspected “terrorists” or if they had lied to the American people in the run-up to the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Democrats claim that they have ushered in a new era of health care which turned out to be nothing more than a bail-out of the insurance industry. They can force you to pay for private insurance or face a fine while taxing “Cadillac” health care plans won by the Unions through years of hard bargaining. Meanwhile the wars go on and the military budget has increased over the Bush Administration’s years of skyrocketing military expenditures.
Both the Democrats and Republicans for more war and more drone attacks, we remain involved in military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Yemen. We have bases on every continent and support regimes that use torture. There not many nations that we are not involved in militarily.
Yet I still receive requests for donations. The very organizations that ask for my money are the very ones that support the US plan for military heteronomy. This time around I won’t be supporting any political party, nor will I vote for any one of their candidates. If I should cast my ballot for the lesser of two evils, I would be an accomplice. I refuse to support the wars and the dismantling of my civil liberties.
Change will come. It may not come tomorrow or the day after, but it will come, history has proved this fact. Whether change will come from the barrel of a gun, or from a ballot box, we will still see it come. It is unlikely that the ballot box will bring change to America anytime soon. Unless we have an alternative to the two corporate political parties voting is a waste of time.
Do We Have Alternatives?
The good news is that there are alternatives. The bad news is that the majority of the American people don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand what they are, or if they do understand, they don’t understand how they could enact reforms. Schools in the U.S. have effectively stopped teaching “critical thinking”, instead they rely on government propaganda to explain the American world view and teach students only what they need to know in order to score well on standardized tests developed by the Federal government.
A good example of what needs to be done in this nation is to look towards France. In the past few weeks, the labor unions there have virtually stopped production in the country. The French government’s decision to raise the retirement age for social security has inflamed public opinion against them. This has been a direct outgrowth of the French Labor movement. Alas, in the U.S. we have no labor organizations that come close to the organized worker’s movement in France. As the Middle Class in America finds its purchasing power continue to decline however, the ascent of union activity cannot be far off. How can a nation, even one as wealthy as the United States, continue to outsource its manufacturing base without major ramifications? The unions in America have already floated the idea to run their own candidates. (2) (3). Another alternative to the two corporate backed parties is for the Socialists, Greens and the other political groups to work on a grand coalition for the 2012 elections. Differences must be put aside for the greater good. The main objective should be to break the backs of the Democrats and Republicans that do not work for the people’s best interests.
One of the most important reforms that can be made in this century is to enact campaign finance reform that works. This is an issue that cannot pass as long as the Democrats and Republicans remain in power. While the Democrats have expressed objection to the Supreme Court ruling that was recently passed allowing an unrestricted flow of private money to support political campaigns, this is just lip service. If the Democrats believed that they would reap the lion’s share of donations, they wouldn’t mention it.
It is a safe bet to say that the current situation in this country that pits the have’s against the have-not’s cannot endure indefinitely. With the advent of the internet and the information age, ideas now spread faster than most people can comprehend. Governments fall into this category also. A good case in point is the rhetoric that comes from the Obama White House. The recent remark by Robert Gibbs concerning the “Professional Left” is very telling. It displays the ignorance that the Obama Administration works under. While it is true that some media pundits have been dismayed at the lack of progress by the administration, it has been the people of the left, not the political hacks on television and radio that have criticized the government.
The government seems to believe the polls that they sanction. These polls are generally flawed in the way that they reach out for information. Since the majority of Americans now consider themselves as Independents, it is highly unlikely that this will be reflected in polling results. Registered Democrats and Registered Republicans make up the majority of respondents. One can only look to see the gains made by the Tea Party to see how far off polling results really are.
Good ideas can go viral in a matter of days if not hours. This fact alone can spell disaster for the status quo. The most important part of bringing real change to Washington is organization. It matters very little who controls Congress for the next two years. The product of the corporate political parties will be the same: more wars and an increased military budget, civil liberties stripped from Americans, more disparity among the economic classes, more unemployment and more outsourcing of American jobs to fill the corporate coffers.
Two years is not a great deal of time to pull out from under the oppressive yoke of our corporate masters. Just getting people to agree on what our objectives should be is a herculean task. For now, I believe that it is in our best interests to rid our political system from corporate interests that go against the wishes of the American people.