Seriously. Go Vote!

Eric ClaptonI’m not sure Eric Clapton is the greatest guitar player ever. I can think of a number of other guitar “gods” that seem in his class (Carlos Santana and Lindsey Buckingham, to name just two). But I am pretty sure the late (great!) George Carlin was without peer. I can’t think of anyone else who lasted longer (50 years!), worked harder, gave us so many classic bits or been more consistently good. He died in 2008, at 71, having done his 14th HBO special just four months earlier.

I thought he went through an angry period (the 1990s, maybe?) where he seemed to lash out indiscriminately at everything and everyone. He seemed a little less funny to me then, but he was never really wrong… just angry. I only ever really disagreed with him once.

And that was on his view that you shouldn’t vote.

He had a bit about how you bought into the process by voting and lost any right to complain about the result. You only had the right to complain if you didn’t vote.

George Carlin way back

Way Back When!

You could object to the process only if you didn’t participate, otherwise you had to accept the outcome without objection.

Comedy relies on a certain truth value (or as Stephen Colbert would put it: truthiness — a wonderful neologism), and right off the bat, Carlin’s assertion doesn’t work for me. Even the first time I heard it, many years ago, my brain went, “Whoa. Hang on there! That’s not right.”

And when your brain does that, it spoils the joke — it stops being funny.

What magnifies what you might think is a minor point is that Carlin has, from the beginning, been precisely aligned with the idea of a fundamental right to complain. It’s a freedom we have here that he held near and dear to his being.

All comedians hold that as a core principle. It’s what makes comedy so precious.

That’s what sets alarm bells ringing when Saint George asserts that anyone could lose the right to complain. Your brain goes, “Uhm… George? Almost every other word you’ve ever said disagrees with that.”

At least mine does.

George Carlin recentOnce you take that away as preposterous, he’s got no other reason to not vote.

It is one thing to agree to a process so that an incredibly varied group of people with widely conflicting goals can somehow move things forward. It is quite another to suggest you can’t criticize the process or the outcome.

It makes as much sense as arguing you can’t criticize something from the outside, that you have to be inside, participating, to have the right to criticize. (In some ways, that’s actually a more supportable argument.)

The whole thing is eerily similar to, “America. Love it or leave it!” It’s anti-Carlin!

Which — at least for my USAnian friends — brings me to my point:


Go vote!

And complain if you don’t like the process. Or the result.

Complain loudly. Or make a joke.

I VotedThat’s our right.

People died for it, you know. Or got beaten. Or jailed.

It’s important.

So go vote!

Our friends at WordPress also want you to go vote, and they’ve whipped up a neat tool to help. Here’s the tool:

Pass it on! To include it in your own post, just stick the following into your post:

[ voter info tool ]

(But, do it without the spaces I inserted for readability!) You can get more info here:

2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

And now, here’s George!!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

40 responses to “Seriously. Go Vote!

  • Doobster418

    Great post, Wyrd. I completely agree with everything you wrote, including feeling a little put off by Carlin’s rant on voting. I saw him in person about a month before he died and he was as sharp as ever. His death was a real loss.

  • dianasschwenk

    I agree with you on principle and you make a mighty good argument to support your view, Smitty!

    I drag my butt out there to vote in every election now.

    But there were times in the past, however, that I didn’t vote because when my choice boils down to voting for the least offensive candidate, I kinda lose heart… Please don’t YELL at me! 😉

    Diana xo

    • Wyrd Smythe

      No yelling necessary. We were all young and foolish once. You vote now, and that’s what matters! (I agree, though. Voting year after year for the “least worst” is really discouraging.)

  • Hariod Brawn

    There’s an emergent group of (primarily) young people here in Britain that’s both politically aware and yet whose members are refusing to vote. They have my sympathies; they are disenfranchised, and the 2 or 3 electable options of our ‘first past the post’ system propose nothing but maintaining the status quo – why would the disenfranchised vote for that?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I can sympathize with the sentiment. The problem for me is I dislike the other options more. Going along voiceless with the status quo is so not my style. I accept having only one voice, but I want it heard. I suppose if you truly believe all possible outcomes are equal, then voting wouldn’t matter, but I think it’s still important to show up and participate. They do say “showing up” is one of the foundations of a good life.

      The alternatives are revolution and going elsewhere. Between the opiates of church and goods, revolution doesn’t seem likely (which almost seems a pity). Which leaves going elsewhere. I’m fine with that, too. I know how to farm and hunt and build shelter. I’ve had hermit visions since I was in high school.

      Heh. I suppose it’s like some really heavy, depressing, but brave, blog post… clicking [Like] doesn’t seem right somehow. Some systems do have ‘thumbs-up’ and ‘thumbs-down’ voting. What we need is a [Yeah, whatever] button. And for those not willing to declare themselves either way, the [Hmm, interesting] button.

      • Hariod Brawn

        I accept having only one voice, but I want it heard.

        The irony is, that by voting say, Democrat or Republican, or in my case over here, Tory (yuk!) or Labour, our voices are not really heard or listened to; they are instead taken for granted as being compliant to whatever ensues. The electoral systems are rigged so as not grant any power to the minorities, which is probably where you and I stand.

        It’s increasingly the case that the silent voice of the non-voter is the one that’s in fact being heard. The big fear amongst those who would perpetuate the status quo, and thus cling to power, is that they fail to receive a credible endorsement from the electorate. It’s therefore ironic then, that not voting could ultimately induce more change than voting.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I would agree there are biases against minority voters, but I won’t go so far as to claim rigged. Voting is a rare time when voices can be equal. You can complain to your local politicians all you want, but the local power structure has a louder voice. But some election day, all the money and power in the world can’t prevent someone from being voted out. At least in theory. It has the potential to be very useful, but it depends on people actually using it.

        The idea behind, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” is a great one. Problem is another truth: “If you build it, they will come.” I fear that if we abdicate our role, the system won’t shut down for lack of participation — it will sail on steered by the few still on board.

      • Hariod Brawn

        By ‘rigged’, I primarily mean the utter impossibility of gaining any traction as a political movement without massive corporate and private funding. You also have the absence, in many countries, of any form of proportional representation, thereby effectively excluding minority interests from any truly democratic process. Further to this, you have covert shenanigans such as have been experienced in recent years here in England (Gerrymandering) and in Florida with Jeb Bush’s meddling:

        “I fear that if we abdicate our role, the system won’t shut down for lack of participation — it will sail on steered by the few still on board.”

        That is the situation in which passive rebellion, or non-compliance is necessary. The ‘Occupy’ movement had a lot of potential, though ultimately it was smashed by force due to not having gained a critical momentum. Still, if it were to re-emerge in future with a significant increase in support – politics is a numbers game – then the authorities would be in a sticky position. Chris Hedges is worth looking into on all this sort of thing, as you may know:

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, I think we’re on the same page. I use ‘rigged’ more to mean legally actionable tactics and ‘biased’ to mean all the nasty — yet legal — stuff. And the legal stuff is bad enough.

        It doesn’t have to be that ‘money wins elections.’ There have been a few examples recently. The potential exists to vote the bastards out. “We the people” are just too busy getting the government we deserve. We’re the problem — we’re also the solution.

        As for the Occupy folks… I dunno… they kind of imploded under their own “let’s have a revolution party” weight exactly as I figured they would from the beginning. Everything is an “event” now, and few have any interest in sticking with anything when the next one comes along.

        It’s been depressing to watch how quickly things fade from public consciousness as the Next New Thing comes along.

      • Hariod Brawn

        I’m not sure if I recognise the “let’s have a revolution party” part of your statement. As I see it, the stated goals (such as they exist) are in the main neither anarchic nor non-democratic. They were and are a call for fairness in corporate taxation, enforceable legislation on anti-corruption measures in corporate and institutional governance, and outlawing the pernicious cross-fertilisation of those two vested interests, with more specific demands being made of financial institutions such as regards high-frequency trading and tighter regulatory control of banks. Perhaps one might consider that revolutionary were it ever to come about? I don’t know W.S., though I rather wish that it would.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The emphasis is on “party.” The OWS movements collapsed under lack of leadership and vision (same thing, really) and the tendency to turn the process into a party — witness all the booths set up to take advantage of the situation. Capitalism in the small by a band dedicated to taking down capitalism in the large.

        Just look at the complex sentence you used to describe it (I’m not sure if you were being mocking or serious… no doubt the most informed members understood those goals, but a lot of them were there for the party — that’s why it faded away quietly without anything really happening — the party was over, time to move on to The Next Thing).

      • Hariod Brawn

        I wasn’t being sardonic W.S.; and actually, if you can condense even an inchoate political manifesto into a single sentence – not sure that I really did do that – then it at least most likely has the merit of being quite well-defined in its objectives!

        As to OWS activists turning their methods into a party, then judging by all the violence meted out to them and as evidenced widely on YouTube, then one has to say they have quite a perverse sense of how to enjoy themselves!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Here’s a manifesto people could get behind: ‘Reform Wall Street and Banking. Punish those who misused those things to gain billions.’ That pretty much was the original O.W.S. platform. If they could have stayed squarely on target, they might have accomplished something. For example, corporate taxes (let alone corporate identities) and high-frequency trading are certainly important issues, but weren’t part of the original package.

        One consequence of the social media component was too much input, too many voices. It’s a common internet reality: lots of authors, not many editors. It’s one thing to read 27 reviews of a restaurant; it’s quite another to boil 27 reviews down into a coherent policy.

        There’s a danger with any progressive movement. The very nature of progressives is being open to new input and other voices. Allowed to run unchecked the group runs the risk of becoming diffused and unguided (“like herding cats”). O.W.S. kind of evaporated under it’s own diffusion.

        Look at it this way, the Tea Party — another recent political movement — has members in Congress and has the Right scared into increasing conservatism. And they have a platform that’s… well, not entirely coherent. For all their energy and press and ‘advanced use of social media’ — for all that they have a better, more coherent idea — what exactly has the O.W.S. movement accomplished?

      • Hariod Brawn

        W.S., the two of us have a perfectly balanced degree of disagreement such that we can poke each other’s ideas around and yet be standing (almost) on the same ground – excellent!

        The London Occupy movement certainly acknowledged their lack of definition as regards alternative forms of governance, legislative changes and so on. They admitted they knew only that what we have is not working, and which in any case is self-evident, and they aimed to be a point of centrality around which those with expertise in various fields could come together and suggest ways forward – on the economy, the electoral system, the environment, and so forth. They were not saying ‘we have the answers’; they were saying ‘ we are looking for the answers’ and formed working groups in a bid to meet those ends. And that, to me, was both a sensible and appealing starting point. After all, those who were claiming to be in possession of the answers, and who had governed deploying them, had demonstrably failed, repeatedly.

        Occupy London were not, and never claimed to be, a political party with a manifesto and leadership – Occupy is a ‘movement’ not a party, it is a movement in public consciousness. And yes, perhaps your statement that it ‘evaporated under its own diffusion’ is partially true. Note though, that the movement coalesced once again in Hong Kong just recently: Occupy Central – a non-violent civil disobedience movement. As with OWS, OL was effectively evicted from public space using the force of the state, and which action was endorsed by political and corporate entities whose interests were threatened. The message is clear: ‘obey, or lose your rights’.

        And now to your question: ‘What exactly has the O.W.S. movement accomplished? I am very tempted to ask of you quite what your vote yesterday accomplished W.S. By the sounds of it, the answer is 2 years of stasis! Anyhow, I think it’s important to regard Occupy in global terms (so not just O.W.S.), and to understand it as a movement in political and social consciousness that as a collective may express disaffection with the status quo both through non-violent (notwithstanding anarchist ‘black bloc’ infiltrations) civil disobedience and through offering some sort of platform for new ideas which otherwise would be denied by the mainstream media. So far, this much has been achieved, and on every continent except Antarctica. There is more to come.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        They admitted they knew only that what we have is not working, and which in any case is self-evident…

        Which makes them precisely the same as most of us.

        …they aimed to be a point of centrality around which those with expertise in various fields could come together and suggest ways forward…

        I agree it’s a lovely idea. Assuming for a moment that problem-solving unicorns exist, why would they harken to a banner so lacking in cohesion, coherence, leadership, funding or experience? I agree grassroots movements can sometimes change the world (e.g. temperance, civil rights). I think when they do, success comes from being focused on the target and the message. And they also often have iconic figures driving them.

        I agree also that Occupy Whatever is a social movement, not a political one — for me that’s part of the problem. Being social, it’s about itself in addition to whatever goals it pursues. As you suggest, it’s — by choice — a place as much as it’s a thing.

        I just don’t see a lot brought to the table, and some of what is brought is too narcisistic for my taste. It starts off as a reasonable thing. Due to social media it goes viral, becomes an “event” and has its 15 minutes. It becomes a party; it becomes about itself. Ultimately the party is over. In the end, nothing really changes. Some are glad they’ve “at least raised awareness.”

        Maybe it’s my cynicism, but I’ve seen this movie.

        As to my own vote, it’s a bare minimum of “doing my part.” It may be a drop in a bucket, but there exists a real potential to fill the bucket with sweet water. It’s a movie I’ve seen, too, but at least I’m one of the stagehands.

  • wakemenow

    Interesting conversation between you and Hariod Brawn there. Honestly, so far as the arguments raised between you two, I find myself siding with Hariod pretty much throughout on this one.

    O.W.S. may have been a lofty ideal lacking leadership and clearly-defined goals, but that’s precisely because it is a social movement aiming to get away from what we have now without really knowing exactly where to go from here. And who does know? I certainly don’t know, for one, though I take extreme issue with what’s been going on up to present in the political and corporate spheres (both in the U.S. and globally). But I do know that I don’t want to play this game anymore, not even keeping up pretenses. And that’s come to include voting now as well.

    So I didn’t vote in the midterm election. Thought about it a bunch. Ordered my absentee ballot with the intention of voting. But the choice of candidates was abysmal, like usual, and I said to hell with it.

    It’s like betting on horses in a race to nowhere. What some of us crave is a whole other way of organizing and managing life and living. And we’re not likely going to get that, but that doesn’t mean we’re better off playing the game.

    So I’m actually with George Carlin on this one, though that skit originally took me aback when I first heard it as well. But I think what he’s saying there is that this has become an exercise in futility where we’re clinging to the illusion of having a voice in political matters. I personally despise the Democratic and Republican parties about equally, so when I do vote it’s nearly always for third party candidates (which people then bitch about, claiming I’ve thrown my vote away or somehow deprived their preferred candidate). It’s gotten so stupid, so overran by corporate interests, that sticking to the “proper channels” is the least effective means in bringing about change.

    Want major corporations to change their ways? All they’ll respond to is money or being deprived of it. They have enough lobbying power to sway and essentially rig our political system to suit their interests, so begging our politicians to help put a harness of those mammoths is a waste of time by this point. Plus, any politician actually willing to try and do so wouldn’t make it on the ballot and most certainly wouldn’t be running on either the Democrat or Republican ticket. Won’t be allowed to happen. So the “viable” choices we’re presented with are already beholden to corporate interests right out the gate. I’m not going to play this game of choosing between the “lesser of two evils” when all we wind up with in the end is more evil.

    So people are trying to figure out a new way. The old-style political protests no longer work, as we found out. And I personally think a central problem here is expecting a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach to satisfying the masses. This centralized power scheme in and of itself is specially prone to corruption, as we’re also figuring out. So right about now we really do need to be exploring what alternatives might be possible, in the U.S. as well as everywhere else.

    People are always expecting folks to come with a complete and ready-to-wear alternative to what’s been constructed over time and grown to massive proportions, but no such single plan can be offered up and deemed feasible. I’m thinking we’d likely be better off pursuing several alternatives simultaneously, since it appears that letting systems get this big, this concentrated in the hands of a relative few, and this powerful is proving to be the greatest danger humanity has ever confronted.

    • Hariod Brawn

      Great points, well made – thank you.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      We’re getting into two different topics here — not voting and the Occupy Movement — and I don’t see them as the same thing. I vote because I’m a citizen and see it as my responsibility to participate in the society that — no matter how broken — does provide me with a pretty incredible life. I live in a society that, for all its flaws, is viewed with envy by most of the world. So maybe I’m pre-modern, but I’m glad to give back on things society considers my duty (like serving on a jury or voting). The vote is going to happen anyway — sitting outside only gives a stronger voice to those who participate.

      There is the option of a write-in of a pointed name (many still vote for Pat Paulson for President). The number of votes cast versus who those votes are cast for are two separate messages. Does a lack of votes reflect a disinterested public, a disenfranchised one, a busy one or one silently protesting? But lots of votes and still no votes for the key candidates, that’s a message that can’t be ignored. That’s the will of the people. And that’s a power we have guaranteed every election day, but it’s one we often fail to use.

      There’s nothing that stops the electorate from speaking with a clear loud voice. Imagine if all those OWS folks had found a candidate and spent their energy getting that person elected. (That’s exactly what the Tea Party did.) The presumption behind the Occupy Movement — any movement, really — is that enough folks want what it offers to make it a movement, a force for social change. Classic “build it and they will come.” Get the message out and folks will see its value and get on board.

      The Tea Party showed how a small group can be socially effective. The Occupy Movement showed the opposite. Both generated a lot of press and noise, but only the Tea Party has members in Congress and is truly shifting the social dialog. One key difference is that the T.P. offered a clear vision; the O.M. has no real vision other than rejecting the current one.

      This is the downfall of almost every revolution, whether it be quick and violent or slow and gradual. Revolution’s central theme is, “This sucks, let’s tear it down and rebuild.” The problem is, form follows function; large societies tend to have a necessary shape. When you go to rebuild one, you tend to fall into the old patterns because those patterns worked. Or rather worked least worst.

      So I look at the Tea Party and I’m horrified by their ignorance and platform but impressed by their ability to foment change. I look at the Occupy Movement and I like the message, but see all that youth and energy being spent almost completely ineffectively.

      It’s a problem progressives often seem to have compared to conservatives. The former tend to be less focused or cohesive. The “herding cats” syndrome. But the latter are good at marching in lockstep, which is very effective.

      I suppose we’ll just have to disagree on these. I vote because I feel it’s a duty and important. And, based on what I’ve seen, I don’t have much regard for the Occupy Movement. It reminds me a lot of the Hippie Nation from the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the same feelings and approaches.

      • wakemenow

        The Party was co-opted by the Koch brothers who threw their money behind it and turned it into something different than what was originally intended. I had hope for it initially, until they distorted it beyond recognition.

        And that’s always the way it goes. Takes money to be heard anymore, especially now with the campaign financing laws being as they are. We’re competing with corporate interests more than with our fellow citizens at this stage in the game.

        As you already know, I don’t identify as a progressive or even a liberal and have always considered myself more on the conservative end of the spectrum. But I can relate to plenty of their frustrations and their desire for a revolution. While I agree with you that there’s a problem with people venting about the status quo yet doing nothing to effectively change it, I’m not one of those out among the protestors in the OWS movement. I’ve turned my attention to the question of how to undermine corporate power, and it’s brought me to thinking about the need for an agrarian renaissance since becoming more self-sustaining is the only way to reduce and possibly someday eliminate our heavy reliance on corporate entities. And that very much is a social revolution rather than a political one, particularly at this point when that infrastructure is in need of being rebuilt.

        The concerns over my duty as a citizen bother me as they do you. But there does come a point where I had to lay down some of this guilt and to see the situation for the catch-22 that it is. I don’t hate this country, but I’d be foolish to only look at its benefits while ignoring its enormous costs foisted upon the people. Or, more accurately, that the people have taken upon themselves in thinking this was all needed, and thereby justified, in the name of “progress.”

        Didn’t say I’d never vote again. Just chose not to this time around. And honestly I don’t think it mattered much either way. This entire political system is rolling in a direction that I can’t follow in. Marching in lockstep, mindlessly believing oneself to be on the side that is righteous, seeing it as one’s goal and duty to squash the competitors, is what’s creating so many of these problems in the first place.

        Call it naivety on my part if you must, but it’s an actual moral dilemma for me. Others can and will obviously do as they wish and I’m not trying to force anybody else’s hand here, only my own. Right or wrong, it’s where I now stand.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Sure, no doubt the Koch money gave the Tea Party a faster ride. But people still vote their own minds. The Tea Party captured those minds with a clear message and plan. The Occupy Movement offered media moments of people having a protest party in the park, no clear goal, and no real plan.

        It’s not surprising the Tea Party has been successful. It’s depressing to me that progressive groups, time after time, seem to lack the coherence and cohesion of conservative groups. Their strength — questioning minds open to new ideas and ways of thinking — in this case acts against them.

        I don’t understand why a generation that centers on social media wouldn’t have serious political leverage. I also think social media can severely undercut the power of money in politics. The ease of creating, publishing and exchanging music today is a big threat to record company empires. The ease of videos threatens movie and cable empires. The whole “going viral” thing implies a mechanism of extreme social power — the ability to reach people in geometrically increasing numbers.

        Even knowledge-seeking is increasingly crowd-sourced. Q&A sites abound. Given the high connectivity of social networks, the ease of making video, the brilliance of some of the people involved… why isn’t there a huge, powerful movement going on? Why (and I’ve been asking this since, like, the 1980s if not earlier) hasn’t real revolution of some kind not gone viral? Why hasn’t all the growing discontent (which dates back to the 1960s) boiled over?

        The disenfranchisement of people from politics, science, knowledge seems to go hand-in-hand. People increasingly decouple from a world they don’t understand and can’t control. Everyone wants change, but no one seems to know what to do. The thing is, I’m not sure sitting it out will result in change — or, if it does, that the change will be desirable.

        The numbers aren’t all in yet, but this midterm election may have had record low turnout, and the results were (to my eye) unfortunate. It seems to highlight the importance of voting.

      • wakemenow

        I’m not personally convinced major change can even be brought about at this point. And I’m not sure how we’d accomplish bringing it about if it were possible. Partly because, yes, we have a million and one conflicting views out here and seem nearly incapable of coming together on even just a few simple principles. But simple principles alone likely won’t even help us to overhaul this system since that’s not offering an alternative functional model that many will accept as feasible. And around and around we go. It’s not for a lack of trying to politically come together.

        As mentioned to you before, I feel rather obsolete. The future is not mine. I chose not to have children and am trying to accept that what’s to come is part of the process apparently needed for humans to learn the lessons on why centralized power schemes are a bad idea. Or maybe the majority of people want this because they feel (and indeed are) so dependent on the current setup. Well, I can’t live with it and pretend that it’s all right, but I also can’t see a way for people to come together en masse to change it. That’s why I speak of my dream of communities severing off and going their own ways, because at least small groups of people are capable of working together whereas whole populations obviously are not. It’s a pipe dream on my part, I know, but it’s all I’ve got at this stage in the game. I’m having to give up on a lot of this and to back away from the political routes of activism.

        Doesn’t mean I reject science or knowledge or exploration of ideas. Just had my fill already of all that is political, because the game is indeed so incredibly rigged now that all our disposable income combined in a pool couldn’t make a dent in going up against corporate lobbying monies. That’s become a fact. Change the laws, and they’re guaranteed to figure out loopholes. It’s like a massive game of whack-a-mole. The best any one person can strive for is to focus in very narrowly on one key area and try fighting there, but without some united vision we just wind up undermining one another time and time again. Yet a united vision doesn’t appear possible.

        So…is it any wonder that people try to tune out from that which appears beyond their control? Doesn’t it make more sense to focus in on what we do have direct control over in our lives? Seems that way to me. Beating my head against a brick wall for the rest of my life sounds like a pitiful existence. Too many apparently want it this way, or at least will tolerate it this way, and what can be done about that? We’ve tried talking to one another in an effort to “raise awareness” until we’re blue in the face. The problem is with power and how people become affiliated with and lose themselves in powerful groups and parties, believing theirs will eventually triumph in the end. But the triumph of those at the top of heap isn’t typically a triumph for the rest down below. People like to overlook this and insist in placing faith in political parties anyway, probably because they too are scared and so cling to the most powerful available in hope that this will somehow offer them protection and recognition going forward. I say that this all has become a big illusion.

        A revolution isn’t coming. And if one does, God help us because we now live an age of individuals-gone-wild. You’re seeking a new order, which is all fine and good, but we’re confronting is a chaotic mess. Most people will cling to the order we have already in order to avoid the possible alternative, and that actually makes sense for anyone who values civilized functionality. Because too many out here only have eyes for expressing their suppressed power and have no use for a new order paradigm. These types have always existed, though I wonder if the problem hasn’t been exacerbated in most-modern times.

        Either way we slice it though, we wind up at a paradox. Rather than keep fighting it, I’ve taken to backing away and learning about it so far as I’m able. People don’t have to like that, but they don’t tend to like my political views either. So, it is what it is.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Well,… yes. That’s a huge load of concerns — all valid — and I’d agree with most of them to one extent or another. It’s possible an anarchical political structure — with power increasing locally — is a solution. The problem is that fragmentation is costly compared to centralization. Societies converge on large units because they’re much more efficient — “economies of scale.”

        But, yeah, there’s a problem with large groups of people agreeing. Even small groups — even pairs — won’t agree on every topic. Working for a common goal means compromising your specific goals — acting in concert — and I think social behavior and history show we’re capable of it. There’s an SF theme to the effect that (only) an alien invasion would unify all of Earth’s peoples — maybe it takes an “existential” threat.

        On the post’s main theme: People should still vote. One can always write in “Mickey Mouse” if all the candidates are unsupportable. Given the way things are going right now, one can at least vote against worse things happening.

        The recent midterms are a perfect example. I can’t believe the country really wants Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress. Assuming it doesn’t, then it’s lack of voter response that allowed it to happen, and right now — looking at a Red Congress — I’m having a hard time swallowing that.

        The alternative is that the vote really does reflect the true will of the country. Then — like it or not — that’s how it is. Part of the deal of living in a democracy is agreeing to go along with majority rule (which is exactly why it’s so important to show up for them). One can still criticize, even protest, of course — that’s also part of the deal. And in this case, the problem isn’t the process, it’s the people that are the problem! [cue Soylent Green clip]

        What scares me is that most of the people I hear disdaining voting are people who would seem prone to vote against the craziness. It’s like the Marching Morons theory for elections. The more rational people disdain elections, the less rational elections become.

      • wakemenow

        How much good do you figure writing in “Mickey Mouse” really does?

        I’m not convinced our votes are even being properly counted and been skeptical about this since the 2000 presidential election (actually voted for Gore in that one, then damn-near puked). But then again, I saw a lot of signs around here locally in support of the Republican candidates, and a TON of locals did vote, and yet the Republicans still won by a landslide. Not even a close race. Me voting for a 3rd-party candidate wouldn’t have helped tip the scale either way there.

        The process has become a problem, and yes, we the people are a problem now too, for a variety of reasons. If people want more rational votes to turn out to vote, then breaking out of this duopoly-dominated setup would likely go a long ways in encouraging them to do so. Otherwise people give up on it since they know either Democrats or Republicans are destined to win, and both parties suck. Yet most folks defend it being it this way tooth and nail. So…what else can be done? I don’t want to spend my whole life fighting against people, feeling gridlocked, when in the end it’s probably going to be more of the same regardless. Small wins here and there is all some of us hold out much hope for anymore, and even those wins can be and often enough are overturned a couple decades on down the road.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        A write-in seems to me to be a more clear message than not showing up. The lack of any vote could mean a lot of things: a protest, apathy, illness, chance. A write-in says “none of the above” and shows the citizen participated and voiced their opinion. So does voting for a third party candidate.

      • wakemenow

        Okay. I’ve thought it over more. And I’ve come to conclusion that you’re actually right on this one. Or at least partly so. Keeping the government in check in some sort of way is the duty of all citizens of a country. While I don’t place much faith in voting mattering much anymore, I will do so in the future and write in candidates if I must (but NOT cartoon characters — I do not see the point in that). Voting alone isn’t enough though. Much as I hate politics and all of the shenanigans involved there, I do acknowledge having certain political responsibilities as well as social and personal responsibilities when it comes to checking my government or at least registering my voice. It’s a minority voice that I doubt will make much difference, but it’s mine and I’m a citizen here.

        So, good job in presenting your case.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh. My. God. You’re risking the universal alignment of the celestial spheres! What are you thinking, publicly changing your mind on the internet!! Don’t you know you’re supposed to cling to your opinions no matter what anyone says?! XD

        Kidding aside, thanks. And totally agree voting is just the beginning!

        My personal take is that right now it’s important to vote against the Republicans, so I’m forced to vote (mostly) Democratic, but write-in votes at least send a clear message: “None of the above bozos!” Not voting does send a message, too, but that message is ambiguous — it could also be apathy or lack of time.

      • wakemenow

        Yeah, figured I might implode after pressing “send” on that comment. hahaha

        I cannot in good faith vote for either Republicans or Democrats unless the individual in question is truly exceptional. This has been my stance for over 10 years and nothing’s altered it so far. So, it’ll be 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-party voting for me.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I understand.

        If it makes you feel any better, decades of rigorously subjective testing has confirmed that people who end up agreeing with me are totally far more intelligent, attractive and generally amazingly awesome than those who don’t. All my data confirms this! 😐

  • E.D.

    I agree:

    There is a big problem to giving a vote to those who you know are already corrupt and without pity for those at the bottom of the pile. No I don’t vote. Eve

    Wyrd Smythe:

    “I accept having only one voice, but I want it heard.”

    Hariod Brawn:

    “The irony is, that by voting say, Democrat or Republican, or in my case over here, Tory (yuk!) or Labour, our voices are not really heard or listened to; they are instead taken for granted as being compliant to whatever ensues. The electoral systems are rigged so as not grant any power to the minorities, which is probably where you and I stand.

    It’s increasingly the case that the silent voice of the non-voter is the one that’s in fact being heard. The big fear amongst those who would perpetuate the status quo, and thus cling to power, is that they fail to receive a credible endorsement from the electorate. It’s therefore ironic then, that not voting could ultimately induce more change than voting.”

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “There is a big problem to giving a vote to those who you know are already corrupt and without pity for those at the bottom of the pile.”

      Wait. Are you suggesting that only compassionate people should be allowed to vote? You do not support universal suffrage?

      (I edited your comment slightly to make it clear who you were quoting.)

      • E.D.

        Sorry, I have a real problem with word press comment boxes, and being tired, i messed up big time. Sorry. I meant to say, i don’t vote because I do not want to vote for those people or politicians or “would be” politicians, when I know they are corrupt. Why would anyone vote for people who are only out for their own interests..

        Might add, I have a feeling Hariod is of the same opinion from what I read in his comments on this topic.. Thanks again. Eve

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Okay, I understand and I can appreciate the sentiment. The problem I see is that society proceeds even when we turn our backs. The goal is trying to minimize the damage until something better comes along.

        I’m totally in favor of alternate paths. Participating in the current process doesn’t exclude me from doing other things, too. And it’s discouraging voting for the least worst, but I see participating as a duty. I can always write in a vote for Donald Duck if I just can’t vote for either candidate.

        There’s a saying about how a big part of life is showing up. I believe voting is part of showing up.

      • E.D.

        Perhaps in the States there is a need. The Republicans are imho a threat to the world, no doubt about it! The Dem/s are obviously the safer bet. The same does not apply to UK. The two parties are exactly the same, they do equal damage to the people. Not only do we have the two party system like you all do, but we also have the EU, and the on-going costs of paying for another bunch of politicians who do nothing for us.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yes, very true. A lot of the time I end up voting against the Republicans or Tea Party candidates rather than for anyone. The world is getting crazier to my eyes. The Ignorance Gap seems to be growing in both directions: the world is getting harder to understand and people aren’t trying as hard. Plus I know conservatives are better here at political effectiveness, so it’s important to fight that.

        I can’t speak to the politics of the U.K. Do you have the right to write in a candidate? Make your voice heard while still not giving a vote to any real candidate?

  • ~ Sadie ~

    Enjoyed the post Wyrd!! Working NaNoWriMo this month, and need to write tonight, but will be back to read all these comments – sometimes they are my fav part 🙂

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