Election Day: Can Democracy Be Saved? Vote! Stay Involved!

via kristen_a on Flickr.

If you haven’t already done so, stop reading this and go vote. Seriously. I’ll wait. This post will be here when you get back.

At the Presidential level, our election has come down to a corporatist hack who ran his earlier primary campaign as a progressive only to govern as a power-mad accumulator of executive powers while doling out “Get Out of Jail Free” cards to torturers and banksters running against a vulture capitalist who didn’t even pretend to disclose how he avoided his patriotic duty to pay taxes and surrounded himself with many of the failed neocon warmongers of the previous administration. Yes, there is the route of the protest vote shouted into the abyss, as well, but there will be the mathematical argument to be made later showing how protest votes enabled the eventual corrupt winner.

The act of voting itself is particularly endangered during this cycle. We have hints that hinky software may be in place, just waiting for the Ohio Secretary of State to flip enough votes to put his guy over the top. We have Florida’s Governor and legislature doing everything they can to suppress the votes of those with whom they disagree. We have reports of “poll watchers” ready to be deployed to minority precincts with the aim to suppress more votes by folks who aren’t white and conservative.

Despite all that, we still have people braving lines hours long to cast their votes. There are still millions who believe there is something in this democracy thing where the citizens get a real voice at the ballot box. As long as that belief persists in such large numbers, there is still hope that it can be turned around.

I don’t pretend to have the answers for how we can get back to a democracy that functions more fully for the benefit of the people. Corporations and the wealthy right now have a free run of a fixed economy that is slanted to funnel money to them and feed the rest of the country on the crumbs. Until our Congress is forced to put into place a tax scheme that levels the playing field instead of tilting it to the powerful, that picture simply won’t change.

But that is one leveraging point. Every single member of the House is up for re-election every two years. My district will finally be ridding itself of the blight of Cliff Stearns, who lost in the primary this year. I’m hoping that JR Gaillot will pull an upset of Ted Yoho as large as Yoho’s upset of Stearns was, but if he doesn’t, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to spend a lot of time over the coming two years documenting and doing everything I can to broadcast the failings of our new Tea Party congressman.

And that’s where you can have some fun, too. Congress has a dismal approval rating and yet individual members of Congress are always overwhelming favorites to win re-election. Perhaps if we all spend more time documenting and broadcasting the individual failures of our own congresscritters we can start to turn the tide and voters will begin to associate the failings of Congress with their own representative. Make your representative own the failure that is Congress.

Pay attention to what is going on. Write letters to the editor, pointing out the failings in real time. Show just how craven these “representatives” are and do your best to create huge problems for them to overcome in their next quest for re-election. You will still be battling the huge money advantage that incumbents have, but by investing time now and throughout the coming term, you just might gain critical leverage that will be hard to overcome with a late barrage of cash and negative advertising.

19 replies
  1. wilfred says:

    This is silly. The best option is to recognize that party politics has failed – a vote for either of these blowhard scumbags is to wallow in pereptual failure.

    A better option is to ignore, to not dignify an election between a corporatist hack and vulture capitalist with the last right left in a democracy. Better to put one’s time, energy and intention in the creation of a real, winnable alternative. The more we participate in farce, the more tragic we become. Enough already.

  2. wilfred says:

    It’s not about a vote for an individual, it’s about making the committment to an alternative rather than continuing with a disgraceful if/then, either/or binary politics that continually rubs people’s faces in the very shit they say they abhor.

    Go ahead.

  3. rosalind says:

    ‘Several Houston Texans players — past and present — are banding together today to make sure their local senior citizens don’t get screwed out of their right to vote …TMZ has learned.

    Former Texans offensive lineman Chester Pitts has organized a group of his gigantic NFL friends to help shuttle seniors in the Houston area to their local polling place.

    “Having the chance to vote is one of the greatest privileges we have as Americans, that we have the right to vote and our vote does count. And that’s why I really feel like if there’s anything I can do to help, whichever way they happen to vote, I should do it.”‘


  4. lefty665 says:

    A vote against “severely and profoundly evil” is not necessarily a vote to ratify merely “lesser evil”. If you are in a swing state like I am, please do not help inflict Mittens on the whole damn country.

    I could not vote for Obama (again) and face myself in the mirror. I quit shaving so I don’t hurt myself.

    Here’s my reward, the last of the New Deal on the lame duck killing room floor. “Obama would push for fiscal cliff deal” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/05/obama-fiscal-cliff_n_2080331.html

    Please vote today. Then, exercise the right to assemble and the obligation to petition now and in ’13 like your life depends on it. It worked for us in the ’60’s, maybe that lightning can strike again.

    Hundreds of thousands on the Mall, the chant might update to something like “1,2,3,4 we don’t want you fat cat whores. 5,6,7,8 organize to reform the state.”


  5. Eric Hodgdon says:

    You’ve got it right.

    Can Democracy be saved?
    It’s already dead.
    Voters rubber stamp who will be the latest crop of Dictators, big and small.

    Public Law 62-5 in 1929 ended the weak democracy we had.
    See http://www.thirty-thousand.org for details.

    And, building on the increases should be new regional capitols in 7 places around the country to replace the current Congress.

  6. Steven Walcott says:

    Just voted for Jill Stein in New York State. Wrote in Mickey Mouse instead of voting for Kirsten Gillibrand, creature of Wall Street. Wrote in ‘Empty Seat’ for Hakeem Jefferies, who is an up and coming New York State liar who’s trying to smile his way into Congress.

    Wasn’t very satisfying at all, but if more folks start goin in there and voice what a sham this whole show is maybe something might change.

  7. rg says:

    Speaking of “Stay Involved”, does anyone know why the last cartoon from Pat Oliphant on Yahoo News was Sept. 12th. Has something happened to him?

  8. Jose Rios says:

    The Carter center said venazuela’s “dictatorship” as the us likes to say had fantastic voting systems, I wonder how our “exceptionalism” will work out…I voted for Jill stein since I have to vote (I’m in Cali & voted to repeal the death penalty & many others) I voted for stein mostly in the name of awlaki & obamas other victims (can’t vote for a murderer I’m sorry &romney would do the same) so yeah then I got a burrito…that’s democracy right? :(

  9. Bill Michtom says:

    I’m in between on the voting question. While I voted for Stein, I don’t think a vote at the presidential level means much. As to the corporate duopoly, Obama/Mitt, we still get shit.

    Downtown ticket/local offices can make a difference, especially in terms of LGBT & women’s rights.

    I strongly agree w/ Jim on keeping people informed on our CCritters. Here in Oregon, the delegation is fairly liberal and they’re still supporting “free” trade, so making those crimes obvious could, at least, start making them think twice.

  10. joanneleon says:

    @wilfred: I agree with you, wilfred. It’s rare that I disagree with Jim but I do this time disagree with him and really don’t like the attitude either.

    Whether or not I choose to do it, there are good reasons to do the protest vote this year and those reasons are not as simplistic as the so called leading progressive voices (who do a great job at investigating and writing about the egregious acts but continue to enable this party anyway) boil it all down to, especially when they live in non-swing states.

    And this whole argument about how people who vote third party are really casting a vote for Romney? That’s just bullshit. The reason that the Dems lost votes this year is that they crossed a line so serious and so blazing red that some of us cannot pull that lever, just can’t. It’s not the fault of the voters if they can’t bring themselves to vote for war criminals. That’s the most absurd argument I have ever heard, and I’ve heard it from a lot of people who should f’ing know better.

  11. bsbafflesbrains says:

    @joanneleon: Stein was quoting Eugene Debs “I would rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don’t want and get it”. Seems to say it all. Another quote was “If everyone who said ‘I would vote for Stein if she had a chance to win’ would actually vote for her she would have a chance.”

  12. phred says:

    “… there is the route of the protest vote shouted into the abyss…”

    I would just like to point out that I voted FOR Stein. This election I did not vote AGAINST anyone. I voted for politicians I support (wrote in None of the Above, where there was no one I wished to support), voted for or against ballot questions on their merits.

    In short, I did not protest a thing. I voted for my preferred choices.

    This fact seems to elude people and I just wanted to make it clear. That in addition to choosing between the lesser of two evils and making a protest vote, there is also the choice to vote one’s preferences, even if it takes a write-in vote to do it.

  13. Jim White says:

    I didn’t expect much agreement on my comments about voting for other parties. I’d probably see things differently if I didn’t live in Florida and have the experience of the early Anderson vote.

    In 2000, there were enough Nader votes just in my county (one of 67) to flip Florida to Gore if those votes had been cast for him. Our world would have been entirely different than it is now if Al Gore had been President on September 11, 2001.

    And then there’s Anderson. He enabled Reagan to get into office. I was really too young during Watergate to get the full impact, so Reagan was my first venture into a President who openly flaunted the law and then taunted us when he got away with it. I despise my vote that helped enable this evil. I cringe when I think of the amount of evil unleashed in the world by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

    Not that I trust Democrats. In fact, there’s a good chance I’ll drop my party affiliation soon, and if I see a real alternative party getting going in a way that they can legitimately challenge the evils that are unleashed, I’ll gladly give all the money, time and effort I can to that cause. The Catch-22 is just in finding a way to get there in the current clusterfuck that is US politics.

    Until then, I’m going to continue calling out Obama and the rest of our political establishment for their crimes.

    I think of my position as political triage.

  14. joanneleon says:

    @Jim White: I’m going to stand up for the third party voters in 2000 too even though I was not one of them and I did vote for Gore and strongly wanted him to win. That argument about how the Nader voters are responsible for us getting Bush/Cheney, and for all the horrible things that happened after Bush/Cheney were elected has been thoroughly debunked.

    First, Gore *did* win Florida.

    Second, there is no validity to the assumption that any of those Nader voters had Gore as an alternative in mind or that enough of them did to make a difference. Some of them might have been disgruntled Republicans or Independents who never vote for Democrats.

    Third, a lot of Nader voters had strong reasons why they would not vote for Gore because of the things that he and Clinton were responsible for, such as NAFTA, an extremely destructive bill, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which set us up for the 2008 crash and depression, and other things, those are only two. Given the what we’ve seen from Obama and the Democratic party during these past four years, there is no guarantee that we would not *still* have ended up with the war in Iraq and the PATRIOT Act.

    And in general, this idea of blaming the voters instead of blaming the corrupt, destructive politicians is just bogus. People who are to the left of me have nobody remotely close to their core values. I’m not going to blame them for the stupidity and corruption and outright theft of elections. The blame lies squarely with the Democratic party who still pretend to be the party of the people because they have to in order to get elected. The leadership of the party — lie and lie and lie and they have no intention of being anything like the party described in their party platform. They are corrupt and owned. And as long as we just keep settling and enabling them with our votes, they will just keep getting worse. Why should they change? People keep voting for them as the lesser of two evils and refuse to stick their necks out and break away. It’s neverending downward spiral. There is NOTHING that is bad enough for some people to stop voting for them, that much is clear from the past four years, or the past fifteen years. Look what has been done by this party in the past fifteen years, and people just keep pulling those D levers and complaining about how they have no other choice. Meanwhile, look what this guy did with his mandate in 2008, and he had to worry about getting reelected then. This time he doesn’t ever have to worry about getting another vote in his life. If that’s what he did when he had to worry about his base, what will he do now?

  15. Bob Schacht says:

    w00t! My favorite result of the evening so far is that Elizabeth Warren is projected to win the Senate seat in Massachusetts! Only the presidential election is more important to me.

    Bob in AZ

  16. lefty665 says:

    OK folks, time to put on the pressure for Obama to stand for Democratic principles.

    The next 4 years begin now. Don’t let them be lost to lame ducks before they are even started.

    No “Grand Bargain” that depends on gutting SS, medicare and medicaid. Engage your Congressmen/women. Encourge Duckworth and Warren to get started early.

    No more caving. Ask not what Obama has to do to appease the Koch sucking dingbats. Make the Koch sucking dingbats ask what they have to do for their country.

    We’ve got 4 years experience of being discounted. Be loud, be proud and be in pols faces to do the right thing. Being Green’s not a substitute for working on them’s what are actually in office.

    “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains”, and your drones, and your disappearances, and your state secrets, and wall street uber alles, and and and…

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