Why Vote?

As the November elections loom closer, many liberals have cast doubts about Obama’s chance to really affect change in the next four years. To progressives, Romney is a non-decision, but Obama is looked at by some as the “lesser of two evils” as no third party candidate will really have a chance. It has been said, “if voting could change anything, it would be illegal” and I fear that may be true. I am so skeptical of any candidate at this point, even with Obama touting the Buffet Rule, that I find myself listening to W.E.B. DuBois, who had true words all the way back in 1956:

…I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state.

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev [First Secretary of the Soviet Union], this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest.

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

Powerful. I’m not trying to cast too negative of a tone here. There are other things we can do besides vote. Feel powerless? Don’t. Look at Egypt, look at the Middle East. Look at yourself! Change can come from within, regardless of who is in “power.” For more resources and ideas, see CrimethInc’s Voting Tools. You can also order your own “Vote Here” stickers to place above the receptacle (trash can, toilet, compost bin) of your choice!