Posts Tagged ‘Voting’


Given how bowel-scrapingly loathsome Donald Trump is, it seems almost unseemly to attack any of his enemies, no matter how despicable. So, I’ve mostly — as have most Trump critics — been reserved of late in my criticism of the Clintons, Obama, et al.

No more.

Hillary Clinton just launched a straight-up McCarthyite attack on both Representative Tulsi Gabbard (long-shot hopeful for the Democratic nomination) and 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, calling both of them “Russian assets.”

That strongly implies that both of them were consciously working with the Russians to undermine American democracy. Clinton’s evidence of that? None whatsoever. She makes the extreme stretch of concluding that since the Russians were sowing chaos in 2016, and now, and that some of their bots were promoting both Stein and Gabbard (along with many others on all sides of the fence — in order to sow chaos), that Stein and Gabbard are somehow “Russian assets.”

Her charge against Gabbard is that the Russians are supposedly “grooming” her to be a third-party candidate. The problem here is that Clinton offers no evidence whatsoever of this, and that Gabbard months ago emphatically stated that she will not run as a third-party candidate.

Why would Clinton launch such slanderous attacks on Stein and Gabbard? It’s obvious: She wants to destroy the most leftist candidate in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (not that Gabbard doesn’t have major problems — she does: among other things she’s apparently a Hare Krishna, which would render her unelectable) and also to close off debate, to limit our electoral choices to the two major parties, the two wings of what Ferdinand Lundberg correctly called “the Property Party.”

Following Obama’s gross betrayal of the people who elected him — he saved the banks, not the people who lost their jobs and their homes — the corporate-Democrat/Republican good-cop/bad-cop mugging of the American public was wearing thin. It became all too obvious that the “good cop” was the junior partner in the looting of damn near all of us.

What better way to parry this growing realization than through false dichotomy.

Part and parcel of our sick parody of democracy is the pretense that the two wings of the Property Party, the Democrats and Republicans, are the only “realistic” choices, and that votes for third-party candidates against this rapacious duopoly are “wasted.” Or, even more grotesquely, that those who vote for third-party candidates or who abstain are somehow — in a classic example of false dichotomy — on the side of the “bad cop,” the Republicans (or their supposed Russian overlords).

Let’s please remember that in 2016 only 59% of those eligible to vote in the presidential election actually bothered to vote. Of the 100% of those eligible to vote, Trump got 26%, Clinton 28%, minor party candidates 5%, and 41% were so disgusted or demoralized that they didn’t even bother to cast a ballot.

Rather than address why over 40% of the American electorate found her and Trump so unattractive that they didn’t even bother to go to the polls, Clinton is attacking outliers and doing her best to tighten the Democratic/Republican duopolistic choke hold on our sad pretense of democracy.

She’s not attempting to broaden democracy, she’s attempting to strangle it.

She is utterly loathsome.

More tomorrow on her disgraceful record. (She should be locked up, but not for the reasons Trump and his minions trumpet.)

 

 


We put up our 1,000th post about three weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been looking through everything we’ve posted, and have been putting up “best of” lists in our most popular categories.

This is the ninth of our first-1,000 “best of” lists. We’ve already posted the Science Fiction, HumorMusicInterviews, AtheismEconomics, Science/Skepticism, and Addictions lists, and will shortly be putting up our final “best of”: Religion.

Here, we’ve folded three categories (Anarchism, Libertarianism, and Politics) into this post because of the relative paucity of posts on Anarchism and Libertarianism. We hope you’ll enjoy at least some of these posts.

Anarchism

Libertarianism

Politics


Most Americans dislike or detest Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. So, most voters in this presidential cycle will be voting against the candidate they find more odious.

Unfortunately, there is no “none of the above” or “hell no!” option, so those who vote against Trump by voting for Clinton will be voting for something, and vice versa. What will they be voting in favor of? Let’s take the candidates in alphabetical order.

CLINTON

  • Continued government secrecy
  • Continued mass surveillance of American citizens
  • Continued persecution of whistleblowers
  • Continued domination of government by big-money interests
  • Continued massive U.S. military spending, accounting for nearly half the world’s total
  • Continued U.S. support for authoritarian, brutal Islamist regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey, and other Middle East states
  • Continued U.S. support for the murderous oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis
  • Continued gross disparities in the distribution of wealth and income in the U.S.; no meaningful measures to address them
  • Continued (after the election) support for corporate friendly “free trade” treaties
  • Continuation of the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration of its victims
  • Continuation of mass deportation; no meaningful immigration reform (even if Clinton wants it)
  • Selection of conventional center-right Supreme Court nominees
  • Plenty of rhetoric, but inadequate action on climate change
  • Continuation of corporate profiteering in, and domination of, the healthcare field–at best, a few bandaid measures
  • Support for reproductive rights
  • Support for LGBT rights
  • Continued stockpiling of enough nuclear weapons to end human civilization
  • Placing the presidency in the hands of a member of the top 1%
  • Placing the nuclear button in the hands of a proven warmonger
  • Continuation of politics as usual

TRUMP

  • Continued government secrecy
  • Continued mass surveillance of American citizens
  • Continued persecution of whistleblowers
  • Continued domination of government by big-money interests
  • Continued massive U.S. military spending, accounting for nearly half the world’s total
  • Continued U.S. support for authoritarian, brutal Islamist regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey, and other Middle East states (probably)
  • Continued U.S. support for the murderous oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis
  • Continued gross disparities in the distribution of wealth and income in the U.S.; no meaningful measures to address them; probably measures to aggravate them
  • Continued (after the election) support for corporate-friendly “free trade” treaties
  • Continuation of the “war on drugs” and mass incarceration of its victims
  • Continuation of mass deportation; possible measures to make the situation much worse
  • Selection of batshit crazy, goose-stepping Supreme Court nominees
  • No action on climate change–nothing to threaten oil industry profits
  • Continuation of corporate profiteering in, and domination of, the healthcare field–possible actions to make the situation even worse
  • Attacks on reproductive rights (by Trump, maybe; by his supporters, yes)
  • Attacks on LGBT rights (by Trump, maybe; by his supporters, yes)
  • Continued stockpiling of enough nuclear weapons to end human civilization
  • Placing the presidency in the hands of a member of the top 1%
  • Placing the nuclear button in the hands of a narcissistic demagogue and possible mad man
  • Continuation of politics as even worse than usual

Vote for either of these candidates, and this is what you’re voting for.

On November 8th ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. The quadrennial “lesser of two evils” game of extortion is on. Ballots and barf bags to the right at your friendly neighborhood polling place.


The 2016 presidential election is fast approaching, and to provide a few moments of respite from the nauseating spectacle — election workers would be well advised to hand out barf bags along with ballots — here are a few definitions you might find humorous.

The first definition is from Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism, and all of the others, plus the graphics, are from our new American Heretic’s Dictionary. We hope you enjoy them.

Democracy, n. 1) The bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.

Democratic Party, n. 1) The “good cop” in the biennial good cop/bad cop mugging of the American public; 2) A political party which has persevered and prospered for over two centuries without, curiously, ever having had any principles to betray.

"Hell" graphic by J.R. Swanson from "The Devil's Dictionaries"

Hell, n. A place of everlasting torment, much like the United States during an election year.

Lesser of Two Evils, phr. The perennial and inspiring reason to vote for the Democratic Party’s courageous, incorruptible candidates.

Majority Rule, phr. The governing principle of the United States. The revered concept that it is every bit as right and just that two million individuals impose their will upon one million, under threat of force, as it is that two individuals impose their will upon one, under similar threat.

Municipal Election graphic by J.R. Swanson

Municipal Election, n. A refreshing dip in an open sewer.

President of the United States, n. 1) A pathological liar suffering delusions of grandeur; 2) An office which confers upon its holder vast coercive power as well as the means to commit mass murder—an opportunity of which all recent U.S. presidents have taken advantage. Because of this, some observers have concluded that only the worst type of individuals seek the office of president. This unkind assessment is, however, incorrect. It is more realistic to conclude that only the worst type of individuals are elected to the office.

Republican, adj. Having an affinity for gold, in both bullion and shower form.

Republican Party, n. Once described as “America’s largest hate group,” the Republican Party is often scurrilously portrayed as consisting entirely of racists, but this is not so. Many Republican leaders are not racists themselves, but are merely content to pander to them.

 * * *

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


NOBODY, n. The ideal political candidate, as can be seen in the Nobody for President campaign’s slogans: Nobody is honest; Nobody is incorruptible; Nobody cares about your problems; Nobody should run your life; Nobody deserves your vote.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


“Don’t riot? Don’t complain.”

–spotted in Tucson on 4-12-16, and in the same vein as one we spotted in San Francisco in the early ’90s–

“Visualize Rioting”


Anarchist Cookbook front cover(from The Anarchist Cookbook, by Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe, Introduction by Chris Hedges, scheduled for October 2015)

 

Politicians, the corporate media, and the miseducation system routinely present voting as the only legitimate route to political and social change.

But is it? Because of if its very nature, voting cannot lead to fundamental change. No matter who you elect, no matter if you elect “better people,” there will still be some giving orders and others forced to take them, because of the threat, and often the application, of institutionalized violence (police, prisons, the military). When you vote, all you’re doing is choosing who’s in charge of the inherently repressive state apparatus. If your goal is a noncoercive, free and equal society, you cannot get from here to there; you cannot get there through voting.

A brief glance at the Western democracies confirms this. No one in his or her right mind would contend that centuries of electoral politics have brought anything approaching full freedom and equality to the US or the UK. The best that voting seems capable of producing is the social-democratic systems of the Scandinavian countries. But even there, you still have government (organized coercion) and capitalism–an ecocidal system of economic inequality, with some giving orders and others forced to take them–overlaid by a veneer of social welfare measures.

Of course, this veneer matters. It reduces–but doesn’t come close to eliminating–the economic inequality inherent to capitalism. Publicly funded healthcare, education, childcare, food assistance, public transit, unemployment benefits, and retirement benefits all make the day-to-day lives of poor and working people in capitalist countries much more bearable than they would otherwise be. But at the same time, such social welfare measures are almost certainly at the outer limit of what electoral politics can deliver. Centuries of cumulative experience in dozens of electoral democracies strongly suggest this is so.

If you’re content with that, fine. But don’t pretend that that’s freedom and equality. Even in the best social-democratic system, you’ll still have a relatively small number of politicians, bureaucrats, and capitalists giving orders and the vast majority of people forced to take them. In other words, you’ll still have ruling elites.

Given this, is voting a useless or worse-than-useless activity? No. It’s silly to pretend that it is. The social welfare programs mentioned above are worthwhile, and were achieved in good part through the electoral process. As well, initiatives and referendums–for example, on marijuana legalization–can clearly be of public benefit. One might also ask, if voting is useless, why are theofascist Republicans so intent on denying black people, latinos, the poor, and young people the right to vote?

At the same time, belief that voting is the sole legitimate means of social change is harmful. It induces many idealistic young people to waste huge amounts of time on political campaigns. A great many, probably most, eventually recognize the ultimate futility of electoral politics and burn out. Believing that there are no other means to social change, they lapse into cynicism and inactivity. This cycle repeats decade after decade after decade.

But that’s not to say voting is entirely useless. It can produce limited reforms. Recognizing its marginal utility, Howard Zinn once remarked that voting takes five minutes, so why not?

Just don’t waste much time on it, and don’t expect it to fundamentally change anything.