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Forum Post: There is no such thing as not voting.

Posted 7 years ago on Oct. 17, 2012, 1:49 a.m. EST by skifreekiwi (13)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

So listen. We need to think carefully about the role of Occupy in electoral politics. I’m not just talking about the presidential election. This is not just another “vote!”/”don’t vote!” opinion piece.

I am not happy with things either. The bailout. A cowardly climate policy. Guantanamo open and no promise that it won’t someday house American citizens. Bradley Manning in solitary confinement for eleven months. Drones killing citizens in Pakistan, drones flying over Africa, drones being used domestically for surveillance. A state department which advocates for American arms manufacturers over any concern for peace, stability or security.

But it’s precisely these sorts of policies that show why we have to think tactically. Occupy is only one year old. By 2014, 2016, we can lay the groundwork for a campaign we can be satisfied with. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. Maybe we need congressional candidates who swear, by legal contract if possible, to vote according to a daily public poll open to all their constituents. That’s just an example -whatever it is, it will be fresh, and it will be creative, and like everything else the Occupy movement has done, it will remind everyone in this country that we might still be able to have a democracy.

It’s not just going to happen. We have to think clearly about how we’re going to get there, and we can’t let our frustration get the best of us. The legal and political climate will be more favorable under Obama. I can’t say that they won’t jail us or beat us or try to marginalize us, but we know that Romney will be even more fascistic. How many times have you heard this $2 trillion increase to the military budget mentioned in these debates? How many more drones, how much more surveillance and policing of the U.S. and the rest of the world, can be bought with $2 trillion dollars? How many more bombs? How many more gigatons of carbon will Romney’s administration emit?

This is not about taking a stand against the two party system by not voting. If not voting had the slightest efficacy as protest against the voting system, then you’d think that 45 percent of eligible voters staying home every four years would have brought it all crumbling down by now.

David Foster Wallace said it best in an essay about the 2000 presidential campaign, “If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/72062302/David-Foster-Wallace-Up-Simba )

A staffer at Greenpeace told me that when he first came to work at that organization, he asked a veteran activist “How can I avoid the things we’re campaigning against?” and the older activist said “You can’t. That’s why we’re campaigning against them.” We are not being given the option to vote against the bad policies of the democratic party. At this particular moment, we functionally have a choice only between Romney and Obama.

I am not saying that Occupy needs to ally itself with the democratic party. One of the reasons why Occupy resonated so strongly with the American people is because it stood apart from the two-party system which everyone is so fed up with. I really believe that this movement has the potential to make that system obsolete. I acknowledge that it’s been a tough year for the movement, but every indicator predicts growth. I say simply “movement” here because this isn’t just about Occupy. The movement is global, and it is going to grow as the demographic preponderance of youth becomes more extreme, as population pressures and climate catastrophe stress the system and expose the failings of neo-liberalism, and as the internet empowers more and more people in the “developing world” with free education and the ability to organize in unprecedented ways.

Now is not the time for despair or fatalism – and that’s what this talk about abstaining as some kind of political statement strikes me as: petulant and fatalistic.

There is nothing hypocritical or contradictory about Occupiers voting for the democrats this time around – it doesn’t mean that Occupy supports the democratic party, but rather that a democratic administration will make for an easier stepping stone to truly revolutionary elections in 2014 and 2016 than would a republican one. We’ll have the time and the momentum to make it so we won’t have to compromise next time.



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[-] 2 points by MaryS (678) 7 years ago

Thank you for this post. I couldn't agree more. For 2016 - I will walk on my lips to Bernie Sanders office and beg him to run. Or whatever progressive I like, probably green party. In the meantime let's be sensible and use every strategy that protects OWS and gives it a good environment in which to grow.

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Agreed. Bernie for Pres. Grow OWS!

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 7 years ago

You know........how many people post on this board with one identity that are not here to push for name your candidate? Six? Seven? Of those six or seven, how many of them are registered voters? All of them. What is the traffic like on this site?

With whom are you (general) arguing with? It seems to me that all of this bullshit would be better if the same people that are laying it on thick here took it to the ground.

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 7 years ago

Sure, we all have complaints about Obama.
And we can act like a 9 year old who refuses to choose between
not eating peas or not eating carrots - and starves to death



[-] 2 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 7 years ago

Sorry this post didn't get any press. It sounds very practical in my opinion.

[-] 0 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

Thanks Jesse. I was hoping we could have a serious discussion about strategy, but nobody seems interested.

[-] 4 points by Builder (4202) 7 years ago

There are five other presidential candidates. Pick one of them.

[-] 3 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

That's my point - voting for a third party candidate for the presidency is, functionally, exactly as if you didn't vote at all. I'm sorry, but I don't think that a third party candidate getting even 5% of the vote would make any difference or prove any kind of "mandate". Yeah, there are third party candidates that I greatly prefer to Obama - but I can't make them president, no matter how hard I vote. Would we really be happy if we all voted for the Justice Party (or whoever) and then Romney won by a couple dozen votes? Can you really tell me that you wouldn't regret your vote if it could have been the difference?

[-] 3 points by Builder (4202) 7 years ago

The president is the puppet. The real election results are state-by-state.

Vote independent in every state, and no matter who is president, they will have to deal with an independent house and senate.

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

You got it right. If Obama ain't good enough I say protest and pull him to the policy that serves the 99%.

Not voting, Voting 3rd party is giving up.

I say fight! For the change that benefits the 99%.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 7 years ago

your opinion makes you a OWS traitor
and a real American
vote for what is best for America
not what makes you feel good

[-] 0 points by LetsGetReal (1420) from Grants, NM 7 years ago

IMO, Obama is so bad, that if my vote for Rocky Anderson turned out to be the one that decided the election, I'm fine with that. My conscience won't allow me to vote for Obamney.

[-] 1 points by shannonerhea (4) 7 years ago

this post makes me sick!!!!! OWS IS NOT POLITICALLY ALIGNED so if you'd like to be duped into the insane bullshit of a rigged selection do it autonomously and leave OWS out of it. Robamney = MURDER wake up its a fixed game ppl all the liberals will be bitching and moaning in a few weeks...

[-] 1 points by mymarkx (40) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

I no longer see the comment I wanted to reply to, so perhaps it was removed, but I'm posting my reply anyway, along with my comments on the original post:

You'd "rather be doing my civil disobedience under a regime that is at least slightly less likely to beat, jail or murder [you] for it?" You're opposed to direct democracy and believe that a regime is necessary, so you're going to vote for a regime that will beat, jail, or murder you, and hope that the other regime might have beaten, jailed, or murdered you more quickly?

It is fact that only one of the candidates backed by more than FIVE BILLION Wall Street dollars will win this sham of an "election." So however you vote, and whoever you vote for, you're not Occupying Wall Street, you're voting for Wall Street. When Occupy Wall Street was co-opted into Vote For Wall Street, it abandoned direct democracy and became nothing more than politics as usual--vote for Wall Street and then go out and let yourself be beaten, arrested, or even killed by the Wall Street regime that won the "election."

If nobody votes, there will be no winner in the election. Then nobody will have the power and authority vested in them by the Constitution and by the consent of the governed to beat, arrest, and even kill you. To indefinitely detain you or assassinate you without due process. Neither Obama nor Romney is going to give up that NDAA power. Not even if every single Occupier in the country gets themself beaten, arrested, or even killed.

If there was no such thing as not voting, the corporations wouldn't be spending over FIVE BILLION DOLLARS to finance the election and get out the vote.

Look, if you want a voice in government, voting for "representatives" to make your decisions for you won't do it. If we had a democratic form of government and there was some way to compel your representatives to represent their constituents instead of their big Wall Street donors, it would be different. But we won't get a democratic form of government by voting for tyranny.

Now Make Me Do It: The Mythical Apathy of the Electorate


Consent to Tyranny: Voting in the USA


Saying that there's no such thing as not voting is like saying that there's no such thing as OWS. Denial will get you nowhere. Withholding your consent from Wall Street rule would show that you understand that there's a difference between voting for Wall Street and opposing Wall Street, and that you are opposed to Wall Street. If you vote for Wall Street puppets in a Wall Street financed election, you're not Occupying Wall Street, not even if the government you vote for beats, arrests, or even kills you--you're voting your consent to be beaten, arrested, or killed.

Okay, I understand that you'd like to be slightly less beaten, slightly less arrested, and slightly less killed, and therefore, while you see no choice but to vote for somebody who will beat, arrest and kill you, you hope that your vote might actually be counted towards the candidate you hope might beat, arrest, and kill you less, and not flipped by the central tabulators owned by the private corporation in Spain that will tally this year's votes, to the candidate more likely to beat, arrest, and kill you.

Personally, I do not wish to be beaten, arrested, or killed at all, and I won't vote in the elections of any government that beats, arrests, and kills its own citizens for peacefully protesting. Not even in the hopes that my vote might be counted for somebody who would beat, arrest, and kill me slightly less. It's like wanting more benevolent slavemasters instead of wanting to abolish slavery. A more benevolent tyranny is still a tyranny and I want democracy.

A pity you don't.

[-] 1 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

The real irony of your position is that it's totally buying into the fetishization of voting as some grand moral gesture or civic duty or whatever - the same crap that's drilled into our heads in elementary school to convince us that we live in a democracy. My voting for Obama does not somehow magically legitimize the system. The basic flaw in your premise is that the basis of the system is voting, therefore we can undermine the system by not voting. The basis of the system is violence, money, and power, and there are ways to undermine those things but not voting isn't one of them.

The corporations are not spending all that money to get out the vote. Where did you get that idea? If anything, they're flooding both sides of the aisle with attack ads and negative campaigning, which have always been the best strategy to get people to not vote. You're playing right into their hands.

In any movement, we can say that there are expressive actions and instrumental actions. Expressive actions are those which affirm and express our beliefs and are a kind of communication. If you go to a rally with ten thousand other people and you're shouting out your opinions, that's an expressive action.

Expressive actions are an important part of growing the movement, but we also need strategic, targeted, instrumental actions which leverage people power against specific things. Not voting may make you feel like a rebel or like you're outside of the system somehow, but in reality it's a purely self-expressive action that makes you feel good but doesn't have the slightest instrumental effect.

It doesn't even make sense to talk about somehow convincing every person in this country to not vote, but it makes even less sense to somehow suggest that the system would crumble to dust as a result.

[-] 1 points by mymarkx (40) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

The basis of the system is indeed, "violence, money, and power," but the system can only call itself a democratic form of government that represents the will of the people, if people vote.

You don"t have to convince everyone not to vote. In Italy's recent election voter turnout decreased by only 20%, dropping from 67% in the previous election to only 47% in this one. Yet that caused both the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/world/europe/low-turnout-for-sicily-elections.html?_r=1&;; and FOX News http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/10/29/protest-party-does-well-in-sicily-election-turnout-down-sharply/ to admit that the majority of Italians no longer support their government and also led international lenders to lower the Italian government's credit rating. That was a successful election boycott and that's how it can be effective.

I never said the system would crumble to dust, but I have said that an election boycott would bring about changes that over a hundred years of voting haven't accomplished.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 7 years ago

Non-voters don't vote because the options available won't allow significant change. Non-voters need something that will allow their voting to make a difference http://occupywallst.org/forum/freeda-template/ .

FreeDA http://occupywallst.org/forum/free-democracy-amendment/ can make its mark in the next two years just as the Tea Party made its mark two years ago and with that, FreeDA can become mainstream in four years to truly bring about needed change.

[-] 1 points by hazencage (58) 7 years ago

How could you not be happy with the bailout? Not only did it save millions of jobs but some of those loans actually helped pay off some debt or cut even.

[-] 2 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

I think the financial crisis could have been a perfect moment to realize that debt is a construct and that we could simply forgive debts. At the very least, since taxpayer money saved the banks, I think that taxpayers should have become owners of the banks.

[-] 1 points by hazencage (58) 7 years ago

Bailouts are the routine thing to do during a financial crisis in not just this country but other countries as well. They have worked every time, and therefore why should society move away from a proven method? sure, perhaps the banks could have been broken up afterwards, but society wouldn't even had that option if the bailouts were never pass!

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 7 years ago

how many times have you heard $2 trillion increase to the military budget mentioned in these debates?


[-] 1 points by darrenlobo (204) 7 years ago

There are too many reasons not to vote. If you really want change you'll have to get people to stop identifying with the govt. Voting is the biggest legitimizer it has. That's why we have to stop voting. No election is going to get us out of this mess.



[-] 3 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

How do you expect not voting to make any kind of difference? Listen, I'd love it if this we "Seeing" by Jose Saramago and the whole country would send in blank ballots and the government would go crazy in response (great book by a nobel winner, check it out), but that's not how it works. The establishment is thrilled when you get jaded and decide not to vote.

Gosh, it's as if you didn't even read the original post. When did I even begin to make the point that an election is going to get us out of this mess? Hard work and lots of uncompromising activism and civil disobedience are going to get us out of this mess - but I'd rather be doing my civil disobedience under a regime that is at least slightly less likely to beat, jail or murder me for it.

[-] 0 points by darrenlobo (204) 7 years ago

I read your post. You still think that better govts can be elected. You restate that in your comment.

Let me go more in depth. I agree that civil disobedience is the answer. It will only work when people are mentally separated form the govt. Voting works in the other direction, legitimizing govt. Advocating voting & civil disobedience is trying to go in 2 directions at once. Matter of fact, voting keeps people out of activism since they think they've done their duty & are now of the hook. This has got to end. Stop voting. The establishment isn't thrilled by nonvoting. They hate it. Why do you think they go to such lengths to promote voting?

[-] 2 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

Listen, I really get where you're coming from here. It might not seem like it, but I'm very much an anarchist. The power of states and governments is based in violence, and I believe in nonviolence and the possibility of building a world which isn't ruled by it. But we're not going to get there by shutting our eyes to the realities of the world we live in. We have to use absolutely every tool available to us, and we have to use those tools rationally and strategically.

I try to avoid any kind of dogmatic thinking when it comes to politics, and to me, the rejection of voting as a tactic seems like a dogmatic response instead of a strategic one.

How do voting and civil disobedience work in opposite directions? I don't think that voting keeps people from being truly activist because they think they've "done their duty". The people who feel that way aren't going to be activists either way.

Functionally, explain to me what real world benefits would accrue if everybody who cares about social change decided not to vote. Unless you can somehow manage to convince the warmongers and the elite from voting, it seems like a pretty good way to doom the movement.

I am not making the point that voting alone is going to solve any of our problems. Voting is a way of at least holding our ground so that we can advance the cause through other means.

[-] 2 points by Mooks (1985) 7 years ago

A lot of people have jobs, families, etc to deal with. They can't hit the pavement and go camp in a tent. I think if the influence of big money in our politics was removed voting would work just fine.

[-] 2 points by 99nproud (2697) 7 years ago

Your suggestions are counter productive and patently false. Republicans have said for 30 years (Wyrich) they they are better off with low turnout. We cannot reject any non violent tactic. We must pursue a duble edged effort. We must improve out inside (reform) game, and our outside (civil disobedience, protest) game. We must work together. We can do it. But we will not do it if we reject half of our supporters who believe in voting and fighting to move politicians to pass our agenda.


[-] 0 points by podman73 (-652) 7 years ago

There are other choices to vote for, so don't say Obama will do what you want this time. If you want the status quo then vote Obama . But don't come here and bitch about wanting change and voting status quo Obama or Romney.

[-] -1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Just because you ain't got the balls to fight and have chosen to give up, doesn'tmean everybody has.

Some must always fight! To the end. It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.

Go find a corner to crawl into, there is no honor in trying to get more people to give up.

Misery loves company I guess.

[-] 2 points by skifreekiwi (13) 7 years ago

I don't see any of these war metaphors as signifying any kind of coherent strategy or even opinion.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

That is your misfortune.

I believe when people do not vote, or vote 3rd party they have given up the fight for change.

I encourage everyone to vote and then protest all pols for change that benefits the 99%.

Understand that?

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 7 years ago

"vote 3rd party they have given up the fight for change"

This from an alleged "indie"...

What a pathetic excuse for democracy you are.

[-] -1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Who's trollin who? You can dish out the trolling but can't take it huh?

'sok I understand. My strength is overwhelming you.

I am registered independent. But I'm not so naive as to believe a 3rd party candidate can win the Presidency.

I WILL agitate for changes in theelection/campaign laws so that 3rd parties can break through but until then I gotta choose one ofthe 2 parties.

One of them will win. Who is so stupid they don't know that?


[-] 2 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

just called your self a troll

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

I know you are, but what am I!

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

......What this makes so sense

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago


[-] 2 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

and you dont even know what your talking about awesome

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Ah Bawa kawa pouse pouse

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

you really like John Lennon dont you

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Whatever. I recall John Lennon discouraging people from doing drugs.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

I don't recall any encouragement of others to do drugs, and it IS a low blow because that was a tiny part of his life, and not part of his legacy at all.

I do recall him encouraging people NOT to do drugs so Maybewe justhave a different perspective on him.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

its no big deal drugs are not bad when you can afford to take them

im a Beatles fanatic I've read every biography they all encouraged the releasing of the mind by drugs. Its not a bad thing to do LSD it even has some positive effects if only done once.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Every life has sadness, John Lennon certainly had his share but he also had great happiness, great excitement & much effort to make people aware of inequality & peace. And that is what makes him great.
The drug slur is a low blow, btw.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

He was good but he wasn't the greatest

the drug thing isnt a low blow he openly used drugs and encourage others to try it. This is a well know fact.

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago

Don't you.?

"war is over, if you want it"

"all we are saying is give peace a chance"

"imagine no religion/no country/no possessions"

"woman is the ni#@er ofthe world"

"When they've tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years

Then they expect you to pick a career

When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be"

"instant Karmas gonna get you"

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 7 years ago

I do i find his life sad. i do think that some of his idea made sense an others were LSD dreams

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 7 years ago

^point proven

[-] 0 points by VQkag2 (16478) 7 years ago



[-] -1 points by yobstreet (-575) 7 years ago

No such thing as not voting; you would like us to put this to the test?

[+] -5 points by TimMcGraw (50) 7 years ago

I've already voted for Romney. We have an early election here in Washington.

[-] 4 points by bensdad (8977) 7 years ago

I hope you never need an abortion, or medicare, or social security, or a supreme court that puts the people first