2006/11/04

If you vote, vote Green

Voting is awkward for every radical. You can cast your ballot and implicitly register a vote of confidence in a system that is deeply undemocratic. Or you can abstain and be counted as one of the "apathetic" half of the population who doesn't vote. If you do vote, you get to choose between a big-money Democrat who might win or a third-party candidate whose voters barely register in the statistics.

The amount of time progressives waste debating these choices is already far too great, so I won't belabor my point. If you feel you have to vote for Democrats, go ahead - but check the polls first and if your Democrat has a solid lead, don't waste your vote. Vote Green. Send the Democrats a message and help build a real progressive electoral alternative.

I haven't changed my mind about electoral politics - I think it's a waste of time for progressives unless they use the elections to organize locally and for longer-term battles. Right now the left is too weak to waste its energy in an electoral system that is rigged against it. There are some key issues worth working on - campaign finance reform and instant runoff voting would immediately increase the power of progressives. But until we can boast popular support and financial power, in the guise of grassroots organizations and democratic businesses, voting is going to remain awkward.

2 comments:

Chris said...

yes. and the many campaigns that plead for people to "just get out there and vote" are ridiculous. is this the attitude of startled elites who worry that the veneer of participatory democracy is wearing thin? there's no point in getting people out there to "just vote" if they're likely to vote for the wrong candidates (assuming that any of them are "right.")

Patrick said...

That's all euphemistic, Chris, because it allows campaigns to get around some FEC restrictions. You can do voter turnout work with that message, but you only talk to the people who are likely to support your candidate. E.g., when I turned out Dems in South Milwaukee 2 years ago, I went through multiple precincts but only knocked on the doors of "identified" likely Democratic voters - people already on our rolls as registered Dems, members of labor unions (which was big in that working-class area), etc. It's amazing (somewhat horrifying, actually) how much specificity you can get from demographic data, and this approach is the basis of all of the independent turnout operations done by both Dems and Republicans.