The first time I voted was the 2004 general election. I’ve been eligible to vote since 1998. I never stayed home on election day because of apathy or laziness. I avoided the ballot box because I sincerely believed our democracy was a sham. I believed that voting and participating in that sham was a form of acquiescence. If I were to make my way to the polling station and cast my vote for one of two equally loathsome candidates, each of them pre-purchased by their corporate contributors, I would essentially be capitulating to an election system that is dominated almost entirely by the interests of the wealthy few at the expense of the common good. If my loathsome candidate loses, and the other loathsome candidate starts two wars that morally and financially bankrupt the country, I’m complicit because I participated in, and therefore legitimized, that process. I believed that casting a vote in that system was ultimately casting a vote for that system. So I refused. But then Bush happened. And when it was time for his second term, I had a change of heart. The stakes were too high. Our country was moving irretrievably to the right. So I participated… desperately…and futilely.
And then came Barack Obama. Our savior. We were moths – we young voters – caught in the glow of his youthfulness and charisma. He was cool and different and “progressive.” He was promising us all this change. He was going to help us wrest the country from the ornery old rich men that had whipped and demoralized it for too long. Yes we could!
But we didn’t. Now, I don’t want to get into all the things Barack Obama hasn’t done. I know there’s a whole list of Democratic talking points about the things he has done. None of that has an impact on my decision not to vote for him. I’m basing this decision on two factors. The first is this: the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are helping coordinate the crackdowns on Occupy movements across the country. This is the Executive branch of the Federal Government. This is the branch of government over which President Obama has direct control. This is President Obama helping coordinate violent police raids of Occupy encampments all over the nation. This is President Obama violently suppressing the First Amendment rights of Occupy protesters. That’s what you vote for if you vote for Obama.
The second factor is that I believe the combination of a Republican presidency, Republican Congress, and Republican Supreme Court will do much more to galvanize and advance the Occupy movement. Some may find that to be soul-crushingly cynical, but I disagree. I think it’s a solid long-term strategy for challenging a corrupt system; one in which we use our opponent’s weakness against it (our opponent being unrestrained capitalism and its weakness being a greed-fueled disregard for economic justice and equality). I’m not saying we should support the other guy, whoever that might be (ahem-Mitt Romney). I couldn’t possibly word-fuck my way into a moral justification for voting Republican. What I am suggesting is that we should all just sit this one out, and do so in an obvious way. We should start “Block the Vote” campaigns. We should actively and publicly pledge to support no one for President. We can make t-shirts and bumper stickers. We can go door to door encouraging people not to vote for President.
Our fight is with rampant capitalism, economic inequality, and corporate control of government. We know that if the Republicans get to do it their way, they’ll continue to march even farther along that path. And with each step taken in that direction, our voices grow louder and our message becomes more immediate. Why settle for the few scraps the establishment liberals are willing to toss our way to shut us up when we can make this movement powerful enough to demand a seat at the table?