Oct 29, 2010

GOTV. this one for the cynics.

When Tuesday arrives, every person should vote.

I don't say this because I'm particularly excited to vote, or because I think that our political options represent the diversity of political perspectives, or even to push a certain candidate on you (tho I've got my opinions). But I do think voting is a form of political action. In our current political situation, it's probably the least expressive form of political action at our disposal, but we at least know that our votes will be counted - I hope. I mean, since we average people can't afford to spend billions of dollars on lobbyists, we might as well vote for somebody that's the least far from our own political views, don't you think?

I do. Here's why:

If you're disgusted with politic(s)(-icians)(-al ads)(-al news), then you're probably a normal, reasonably intelligent person - and we need more people like you casting ballots!
Enough said on this point.

A vote for the least worst candidate is still better than a vote for the worst candidate, right?
As a Minnesota resident, I will be the first to admit that I don't like any of the major party endorsed candidates on the ballot, especially at the gubernatorial level. Thanks to our inescapable bipartisan government (Independent candidates are usually just a libertarian semblance of the two parties), the candidates who I typically favor stand no chance of winning the election. Normally, I would say, "vote for the candidate that you think is best, and sleep with a clear conscience." 

But let's be honest, this year has made it crystal clear that Wall Street has more of a say in D.C. than do the masses. And even though I know that this whole "Republicans vs Democrats" gig is one of the most elaborate schemes ever devised to prevent real democracy from happening, that in most other nations Democrats and Republicans look like pretty much the same political party, and that after Nov. 2 the rich will still be rich and the poor will still be poor, I'm still going to vote for a candidate from within those two parties. And I hate it. But this year, I really think it's better to be strategic with your vote than authentic. We've got to be realistic. Sell your soul for now, and then start organizing to get us out of this two-party charade.

Sadly, we may just have to vote for the person we dislike the least...

Don't trust - or be silenced by - what you see on TV, most major internet news services, or that crazy political friend you follow on twitter (example).  Investigate candidates carefully.  Major media outlets sensationalize stories, and are often more concerned about ratings and profits than fairness or accuracy (and don't forget they're the ones that get paid to run those incessant, disgusting political ads).  I trust The Wikipedia more than anything I hear in a commercial, but if you do see an ad that seems legitimate, look to see who paid for it - there are not many neutral organizations funding candidates. 

Whatever you do, don't listen to any ad that tells you not to vote.

http://www.votesmart.org/ << I have found this site to be a useful resource for investigating candidates and their voting records.

Change is slow in this country, but voting is a political act.
This is closely related to my first point. I don't expect this election year to make the country any better or more just, but if we can prevent it from worsening too quickly, then there will be room for real political action in our life times.  

Because of our limited political options, I don't feel comfortable saying that voting is what makes this country democracy.  Well, to be honest, I think our process of representation has been so dismantled by well-funded interest groups that we're more aptly described as a plutocracy. Nonetheless, when the masses move and vote, there can be tangible results. So vote, and get your friends to vote, too.

You don't have to vote, but if you choose not to, please be prepared to defend your reasoning to others.
You don't have to listen to any of this. You are free to spend this next Tuesday engaged in any honorable or illicit activity that suits your fancy. But since voting is pretty much the only guaranteed voice people have left, if you choose not to vote please have a good reason. This is not a good reason, and neither is this. I'm not going to make you feel guilty or say that annoying-as-hell phrase that righteous voters always dish out, "Well if you didn't vote, then you've got no right to complain!" If you don't vote, you can still complain - that's fine with me. All I ask is that you take the time to help me understand where you're coming from. If you can't do that, then you really don't have a right to complain.

Don't only vote.
And lastly, if you care about social change, you can't stop at voting and consider your duty done. Whatever your agenda, I'm willing to bet that there is an organization, student group, or community that is passionate about addressing the same needs that you are. Find them. Make connections. Organize and accomplish something. READ. Do something besides watching this shit storm unfold. 

Americans are used to taking whatever is given to them. We see this in politics as well as the the market. And while that is what I think we have to do in this next election, we have every other day of our lives to collectively work toward something better.

But first, you have to move.


  1. Good post. I agree your vote is counted. But when when you have a situation like what happened 2 years ago Coleman vs. Franken.. when they picked and chose absentee ballots and kept counting until Franken was ahead...then i feel like my vote was not counted. And neither of the 2 candidates was a Minnesotan. When are the good men and women going to run for office? Not the actors, millionaires and back room smoozers?

  2. I linked your blog to www.young-dead-elms.blogspot.com