Posted 7 months ago on Oct. 21, 2012, 3:56 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Transcending the Wedge Issue That Divides Democracy Activists: To Vote or Not to Vote?
Saturday, 20 October 2012 10:01 By Bruce E Levine, Counterpunch | Op-Ed
“I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? . . . You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.” —George Carlin
Many nonvoting democracy activists argue that participating in U.S. national elections only maintains the illusion of democracy, and so voting can become a wedge issue that undermines solidarity among voting and nonvoting activists on democracy battlefields beyond electoral politics.
The corporate media tries to persuade Americans that the problem with the U.S. political process is a lack of bipartisanship between the Democrats and the Republicans, but on the key democracy issues of our era—senseless wars, Wall Street bailouts, unprosecuted corporate criminals, and the surveillance state—there has been Democratic-Republican bipartisanship.
The real problem for those of us who care about democracy is the lack of bipartisanship between voter and nonvoter democracy activists who often flail out at one another, and then can’t come together on democracy battlefields where they actually have a chance to gain power and create something closer to democracy. U.S. Elections and Learned Helplessness
“If the Bush administration didn’t like somebody, they’d kidnap them and send them to torture chambers. If the Obama administration decides they don’t like somebody, they murder them.” — Noam Chomsky
When the Republicans win, Americans get senseless wars and corporate control. When the Democrats win, Americans get senseless wars and corporate control. Learned helplessness means a belief that no matter what one does or does not do, one cannot decrease one’s level of pain, and so one gives up trying. If a society’s electoral process promotes learned helplessness, it is not a democratic society.
While Mitt Romney is another Republican “senseless wars/corporate control” candidate, what is President Obama’s record here? Military spending under Obama, as a percentage of GDP, has been higher than it was during any year of the George W. Bush administration. And under Obama, there has not been a single prosecution of a high ranking Wall Street executive or any major financial firms for their criminal practices that helped produce a worldwide financial meltdown. There are differences between Romney and Obama, but not when it comes to democracy activists’ helplessness around stopping senseless wars and corporate control.
To extricate from learned helplessness, does it make sense to vote for a third party that opposes senseless wars and corporate control? Because of the power of money in the U.S. electoral process—even worse now because of Citizens United—third parties have no chance of winning. And so voting for a third party that opposes senseless wars and corporate control means that either the Democrats or the Republicans still win, and Americans continue to get senseless wars and corporate control. And more learned helplessness.
There is of course another choice—not voting at all. That’s the choice for 40 to 50 percent of Americans in presidential elections (and even more in off-years when the presidency is not contested). George Carlin’s case for not voting rings true for millions of Americans:
“Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. YOU DON’T. You have no choice. . . . Good honest hard-working people . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about them. They don’t give a fuck about you, they don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you. AT ALL. AT ALL. AT ALL.”
However, not voting doesn’t change the fact that the Democrats or Republicans still win, resulting in senseless wars and corporate control. The bottom line is that regardless of what we do or don’t do in the election booth, we continue to get senseless wars and corporate control.
Dropping One’s Arrogance about a Voting or Nonvoting Stance
Amnesty International Denounces Torture in California Prisons: an Interview with Tessa Murphy
Sunday, 21 October 2012 11:39 By Angola 3 News, Angola 3 News | Report
Unfortunately, getting the US to respect international law is not as clear-cut as the act of documenting human rights violations. Notably, The Edge of Endurance explains: “The USA has sought to limit the application of international human rights law in its conduct by entering reservations to article 7 of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and article 16 of the Convention against Torture as a condition of ratifying the treaties. The reservations state that the US considers itself bound by the articles only to the extent that ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ means the ‘cruel and unusual treatment or punishment’ prohibited under the US Constitution. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the USA to withdraw its reservations as defeating the object and purpose of the treaties in question and therefore incompatible with international law.”