Samantha Bee, horrified that majority of her viewers aren't registered voters, tries something


#41

In a literal sense: Yes, this really is something the US could vote itself out of. Technically speaking, nothing keeps you all from voting in better candidates in the primaries and then voting for those candidates in elections – that you do not is a social/psychological/education/culture/religion problem, not a legal one.

Of course, that’s much easier said than done - but “it’s bad” is not a good excuse to let it get worse.
(But damn, that 2-party FPTP system you’ve got is not great.)


#42

I agree with you that the issues of climate change, income inequality, and a racist, trigger-happy police force are huge problems. My point is that voting is one tool to combat those issues, but not the only tool - public resistance, civil disobedience, and even in some cases forms of non-violent sabotage can also be effective.

What methods besides these would you recommend that would be more effective to remedy the situation?


#43

You “agree…” yet you’re engaging in it, right now.

There is no “magic wand” we can wave that will instantaneously create some kind of ‘reversal of fortunes’ which takes the wealth, power & resources from the oppressors and gives it to the common people; we have to work with the tools that are at our disposal.

I won’t even deign to reply to the James H. Cone quote, as it’s not relevant to my point; the struggle for equality was and is more than just Martin and Malcolm and the different approaches they took.

But since we’re in the mood to quote iconic civil rights leaders:

Excellent question.


#44

I don’t know too much about the dynamics of voting in Delaware. I don’t know what gets people out to vote. It was really hot on election day, so we suspect a number of seniors stayed home in their air conditioning. Also, since it wasn’t a presidential primary, less people come out. We did have one Progressive candidate who was running for US Senate against a 30 year incumbent. People were hoping she’d be another Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So maybe she got some people to come out and vote.

The election to which I referenced was a primary, which is a sort of pre-election where voter pick which party candidate will appear on the ballot in the main election.

We have FPTP voting as well.

In Delaware we have closed primaries, so you can only vote in them if you are registered for a given political party. Since Delaware is mostly a Democrat state, most of the primary challengers were Democrats. So if you’re a registered Republican, then you really don’t get a say in who your representative will be until the main election. By that time, the asshole candidate may have already won the primary.


#45

I agree. You could also add to that list of tools things like prayer, healthy diets, and Broadway musicals. Because if we’re being honest, all of these things have some influence on struggles for social change. Nothing is completely useless, everything plays a part.

But if you heard Samantha Bee suggesting that the way to turn our society around was prayer, what would be your reaction? That’s my reaction when I hear people promoting voting.

There are so many, but you listed some good ones. The way I think about it, politics is not a special domain related to elections and representatives - that’s the pacifier we’ve been given to replace true politics, which is the organized exercise of power. We each exert power in many ways: Physically, through where we put our body and what we do to the things around us. Economically, through our labor and consumption patterns. Militarily, through who we direct violence against. Socially, through the way we treat people around us, the ideas we support or challenge when interacting with each other.

These are all forms of political engagement, and they are powerful because they come from your direct power as a person (inalienable, some might say). You have the power to work or not, to build something, to break something, to speak to those around you. Casting a vote into a bureaucratic system specifically designed to divorce you from your power isn’t nothing, but it’s so minor compared to the other forms of power you possess, you have to wonder why it’s being brought up so constantly and enthusiastically.


#46

Yes, absolutely. I get the feeling that you think I’m counseling apathy or despair - because these are often the motives assumed for people who don’t vote. It’s true that I’m apathetic about the electoral process, but I am far from apathetic about politics and social struggle. I often despair that politicians will ever fix our world, but I am far from hopeless about the potential for humanity to fix our world.

In fact, it’s partly because I am so hopeful and passionate about social change that I have this reaction to the electoral bureaucracy. We should absolutely work with whatever tools will give us the most power to radically change society, but I’m not interested in a blind positivity which says every approach is equally awesome. If you want to actually get something done, some tools are going to be powerful and some tools will be useless. Since the electoral system offers very little meaningful power, we should probably use different tools.


#47

If I wanted to talk people out of voting, I think I’d do what you’re doing. You didn’t offer any actual answers, just some vague word salad (“speak to those around you”? Huh?).

I was interested in what you had to say because I’m a big believer in not JUST voting. But you haven’t offered anything substantial. “Where we put our body”? Seriously?

People not voting gave us President Trump. Why didn’t you prevent him by putting your body somewhere?


#48

I’d recommend a different argument. Voting arrives at specific measurable results. Prayer does not.


#49

It makes sense if you start from the unassailable axiomatic premise that voting is useless!


#50

- You could also add to that list of tools things like prayer, healthy diets, and Broadway musicals. Because if we’re being honest, all of these things have some influence on struggles for social change. Nothing is completely useless, everything plays a part.

I understand that you are being sarcastic here, but there is pretty substantial evidence that the democratic process has quantifiable impact on the lives of the citizenry. For example, the death toll in Puerto Rico due to the inaction of the Trump administration has reached estimates upwards of 3000 lives. Considering the incompetence of the current administration, it is not an unreasonable speculation that if someone else were in office the response would have been more effective, and lives might not have been lost needlessly. I could go on with other examples, but I think just this one disputes the claim that the electoral system has essentially the same effect as magical thinking.

The way I think about it, politics is not a special domain related to elections and representatives - that’s the pacifier we’ve been given to replace true politics…

I agree, and I am not arguing that political action should solely be under the purview of elected officials. However, elected officials as well as state propositions do have direct effects on people’s lives so I find it hard to believe that it would be more effective to ignore this area totally. Another example - in my sate of California, there was a proposition on the ballot that would have divided the into three regions with the Silicon Valley (and their tax dollars) cut off from the rest of the state. I voted against this insane legislation, along with the majority of Californians, and it did not pass. In this instance, I don’t see how another action other than voting would have been more effective in preventing this. Of course this is not always the case, but taking other forms of action in tandem, I fail to see how reducing one’s power in the electoral sphere equates to an overall increase of political power.

But if you heard Samantha Bee suggesting that the way to turn our society around was prayer, what would be your reaction? That’s my reaction when I hear people promoting voting.

Again, this is clearly a false equivalency, as the results of the electoral process have demonstrable effects on the lived lives of the citizens, and prayers do not. This is especially true the more localized the election. Yet another example- on my California primary ballot, along with the propositions were the Superior and Appellate court judges for the county in which I live. These are the people who preside over major local criminal cases and have a direct effect on people’s personal freedoms and the ways the laws are executed - right outside my door. It takes some time, but it’s worth researching these people. Some are competent, but others are really scary. Why would I not make an effort to prevent a bad judge from being put into power rather than do nothing and try to get them thrown out of office once they start ruining peoples lives?

Finally. I get the sense that you may be an advocate of some flavor of anarchy, which is fine, but a different conversation altogether. I will leave you with the hope that you reconsider voting - if even in only local elections - in ADDITION to other actions.


#51


#52

If you’re in a conversation, you have the power to speak your mind, and your interlocutor will have to think about what you say. If you’re in a public place, you have the power to hold up a sign with a slogan, and the people around will have to see it.

Yes, seriously.

This is a simplified way of thinking about how politicians gain power. As long as we believe in this kind of story, no amount of voting turnout will be able to transform society.

For one thing, I’m skeptical that SWIT would have saved everyone in Puerto Rico -
I think the American government is often very shitty with or without a reality TV star president.
But more importantly, the idea that voting isn’t useful shouldn’t be confused with the idea that voting has literally no effect on reality. The latter is demonstrably false, as you point out. It’s more a question of scope and scale.

Yeah, my bad, that was a confusing example. You can substitute “wearing white on labor day” or “listening to glam rock”, or any other arbitrary but not entirely insignificant gesture.

I actually never said that I don’t vote, nor that you shouldn’t vote. I just said that voting is useless, which I think is important for us all to recognize no matter what we decide to do personally.

But also I think it’s funny that, given we clearly disagree politically, you would encourage me to participate in a process which you believe has a powerful effect on molding society. Wouldn’t you rather I not vote, and leave the governance to you? Or maybe you’d rather I simply stop pointing out the uselessness of voting to impressionable people who might otherwise vote the way you prefer?

It’s weird when participation in electoral politics becomes a political end in itself, don’t you think?


#53

Why not both?

Your theories sound like saying the Warriors didn’t win two championships because they threw the ball through the basket more than the Cavaliers, but because they had better smiles. Without the smiles, the made baskets were useless.


#54

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.