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“Wasted” votes

Every four years, we have the same three choices: vote for the lesser evil out of fear of the supposed greater, vote for a third-party candidate who expresses your views better but has no chance of winning, and not voting. Once in a great while, it seems like we have the chance to vote for a major party candidate we think we really like (Clinton or Obama the first time around?), but they never fulfill their campaign promises — which, usually, were pretty vague to begin with.

During the 1996 Clinton vs Dole campaign, there was a great cartoon, which I still have somewhere: Dole is hitting someone on the head, shouting, “Hit him four times!” and Clinton is hitting the guy on the head, shouting, “Hit him 3½ times!” That’s pretty much your Republican-Democrat choice, and, if you live in a hotly contested state and that difference is significant to you, go for it. But either way, you’re still basically getting an actor hired to represent the imperialist corporatist state, not someone who will represent very many of your interests. (Yeah, I know, they may pick a Supreme Court Justice, who will also represent the corporatist state in either a “liberal” or conservative way.)

As you can probably tell, I’m sick of the first option, and, having the luxury of living in a Democratic state, I’m voting for Jill Stein and Cherie Honaker, the Pacific Green Party candidates. In fact, I’ve already mailed in my ballot. But it’s just an exercise, since under our current system, they not only don’t have a chance of being elected, they never even had a chance to put their platform before the electorate (Stein and Honaker were arrested for trying to get into the last presidential debate).

In this system, all votes are wasted (meaningless), because pretty much the same things are going to happen either way. I’ve seen the man (men) behind the curtain…In fact, the most meaningful option is probably to ignore the whole show and not vote. That’s not apathy or indifference — it’s a rejection of the whole charade.

Election Realities

Who’s most in touch with reality re: the upcoming election? Those who plan to vote for third party candidates (or ignore the election completely), or the majority who will vote for the lesser of two evils? Chris Hedges has an eloquent answer in his latest editorial.

How Do You Take Your Poison? by Chris Hedges, truthdig.com, 9-24-12

We will all swallow our cup of corporate poison. We can take it from nurse Romney, who will tell us not to whine and play the victim, or we can take it from nurse Obama, who will assure us that this hurts him even more than it hurts us, but one way or another the corporate hemlock will be shoved down our throats. The choice before us is how it will be administered. Corporate power, no matter who is running the ward after January 2013, is poised to carry out U.S. history’s most savage assault against the poor and the working class, not to mention the Earth’s ecosystem. And no one in power, no matter what the bedside manner, has any intention or ability to stop it.

If you insist on participating in the cash-drenched charade of a two-party democratic election at least be clear about what you are doing. You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. All the things that stand between us and utter destitution—Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America’s states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors—are about to be shredded by the corporate state…

The costs of our most basic needs, from food to education to health care, are at the same time being pushed upward with no control or regulation. Tuition and fees at four-year colleges climbed 300 percent between 1990 and 2011, fueling the college loan crisis that has left graduates, most of them underemployed or unemployed, with more than $1 trillion in debt. Health care costs over the same period have risen 150 percent. Food prices have climbed 10 percent since June, according to the World Bank. There are now 46.7 million U.S. citizens, and one in three children, who depend on food stamps. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under Obama has, meanwhile, expelled 1.5 million immigrants, a number that dwarfs deportations carried out by his Republican predecessor. And while we are being fleeced, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank has since 2008 doled out $16 trillion to national and global financial institutions and corporations.

Fiscal implosion is only a matter of time. And the corporate state is preparing. Obama’s assault on civil liberties has outpaced that of George W. Bush. The refusal to restore habeas corpus, the use of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act to justify the assassination of U.S. citizens, the passing of the FISA Amendments Act to monitor and eavesdrop on tens of millions of citizens without a warrant, the employment of the Espionage Act six times to threaten whistle-blowers inside the government with prison time, and the administration’s recent emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s permanent injunction of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act give you a hint of the shackles the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, intend to place on all those who contemplate dissent.

But perhaps the most egregious assault will be carried out by the fossil fuel industry. Obama, who presided over the repudiation of the Kyoto Accords and has done nothing to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, reversed 20 years of federal policy when he permitted the expansion of fracking and offshore drilling. And this acquiescence to big oil and big coal, no doubt useful in bringing in campaign funds, spells disaster for the planet. He has authorized drilling in federally protected lands, along the East Coast, Alaska and four miles off Florida’s Atlantic beaches. Candidate Obama in 2008 stood on the Florida coastline and vowed never to permit drilling there.

You get the point. Obama is not in charge. Romney would not be in charge. Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion…

You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.