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If Still in Doubt, Don't Vote

There's no point in helping to make things worse.

by James Leroy Wilson
October 28, 2004

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Well, it’s only five days away, unless the Administration decides to pull the plug on the election by manufacturing a Terror Alert. I’m sure a lot of people still haven’t made up their minds. I don’t mean that they haven’t made up their mind between Bush and Kerry - I’m sure, besides conflicted pro-life Democrats, almost everybody has.

Where there is indecision, it is due to the dissatisfaction with the two major candidates. The major issues of the campaign are not, as they should be: the Wars on Terror and Iraq, the Deficit, the growth of a Police State, and the looming Social Security insolvency. Not at all. This election is a referendum on George W. Bush the human being:

1. Is Bush a religious fanatic?

2. Is he stupid?

3. Is he heartless?

4. Is he delusional?

Framed this way, just about anybody else looks acceptable. Yet Kerry’s promises of more war and more spending - which are themselves delusional - do not enthuse the typical moderates and potential right-wing defectors. Meanwhile, Bush’s base is unhappy on a lot of fronts. The die-hards still excuse Bush by attacking Democrats and actually believe the “they hate us because of our freedom“ nonsense. But moderates who have voted Republican in the past out of sheer habit now have every right to question what they’re doing. The Old Right ideologues are all over the map. In the past, most swallowed hard and went back to the Republican Party. I don’t think as many will this time.

It comes down to the lesser of two evils question again. “I don’t like Kerry, but can’t support Bush“ (or vise-versa). One looks worse than the other, but either way, it seems that America is headed in the wrong direction.

There are two other options here. One is to vote for a third party candidate. This has been a recurring theme throughout the campaign season here at the Partial Observer. But I know how many think. People who scarcely agree with 60% of the Democratic or Republican platforms, will find one or two things about a minor party’s platform as an excuse not to vote for them. Another excuse is, “But they can’t win!” Most states, we are told, are already pretty well locked as to who’s going to win. That doesn’t stop Democrats in Nebraska or Republicans in New York from voting for their man, even though they have no chance. But it’s still their excuse to not vote for a third party.

Here would be my final plea on the third party question. If you believe that both Bush and Kerry will, on balance, be bad for our country, yet a third party’s platform would be, on balance, good for the country, then I recommend supporting that party. You have nothing to lose, and will not have your conscience bother you that you supported a candidate that you knew would lead our country in the wrong direction. You will acknowledge that, since both is bad, to decide which will be worse and which the “lesser evil” is a matter of guessing, not informed judgment. And you will have a chance to send a message of your anger to the two parties.

But if, for whatever reason, you don’t want to support a third party or write somebody’s name in, there’s the final, perhaps happiest alternative:

Don’t vote. And if some partisan fanatic asks if you voted, lie and say you did. It’s none of their business.

Now, there is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem with not voting. To not vote may indicate that you are happy with the process, and have confidence in whoever gets elected. On the other hand, to actually go to the polls can itself be interpreted as evidence that you believe in the system.

The only way around the conundrum is to liberate yourself from it. “I’m not going to vote for any of these creeps.” It’s not making a statement, it’s not a message that will register with the politicians. But it is a statement of liberation: I have no duty to support a hopelessly rigged and corrupt electoral system.

Many celebrities encourage people to vote. They won’t say for whom, just to vote. As if we have a religious duty to participate in the ritual, that beyond all the taxes and regulations we are crushed by, we must still bow down to the god American Democracy.

But politics is a satanic force. It is a replacement religion, a replacement ethics. It turns decent young people into killers, upright family men into obnoxious jerks. It makes young women with cool tastes in fashion and music look like brain-dead morons when they take to the streets waving signs. It ingrains old people with a breathtaking sense of entitlement. It excites racial tensions. It makes many people bitter and angry (can you tell?). It fosters a herd mentality and fosters sacrifice for abstract ideals, while it takes our attention away from the cares of family, work, and friends that actually make society better.

You do not have to pay tribute. You do not owe it to your country. There’s a difference between patriotism and consenting to this demonic process. The system was broken long ago, perhaps from the start. It’s not your fault. If you vote for a candidate you don’t believe in, not only will you knowingly help make things worse, you would officially consent to making things worse. Yes, if you break free from the moral and intellectual prison that is American politics, you may anger family and friends who want to remain in the prison. That’s their problem, not yours.

So if you don’t know who to vote for, don’t. It’s a perfectly reasonable, guilt-free choice.

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