“I’m doing a campaign to encourage fellow Americans to consider not voting in the national election next month,” is what I’ve said on some surprise October occasions, following a knock at a door that was then opened (close to 50% thus far). Depending on their response or lack thereof, I commonly continue with the rhetoric that “by voting for either candidate you have to own what they do once they are in office” or the point that has been central to my argument, that “any vote—regardless of for whom— is a vote for the system that allows such corrupt, narrow, and elitist choices to get elected in the first place”.
Concurrently to my talking points, I’ve offered a copy of this flyer that has reasons listed for considering this no-vote alternative. Points such as disenfranchisement of the youth who have the most time left on this planet, yet no decision making power, is what I save when a high or grade schooler opens the door. Gerrymandering also came up once, but not yet the argument that prisoners should have, more than anyone, a right and need to have a say; a slippery issue is prisoners, perhaps analogous to taking sides with the Palestinians in that unending conflict, but nonetheless this hasn’t come up yet.
Generally, the discussions don’t focus on the flyer because of practical reasons (no one has chosen to read while an odd stranger stands there silently at their door watching them). The flyers have been what I lean on as my public speaking tries to grow out of its cocoon. Perhaps it was read later on, or thrown away—a fate unbeknownst to me. The depth of conversation that I had with three particular people (ranging over 30 minutes each) told me they at least would check out the flyer at some point. More importantly than that, it was nice for both of us to have the open political discussion that is so rare in this supposed democracy; so that has been refreshing. Several people felt they could open up to me about the things that annoyed or infuriated them, including the media, the constructed race tensions, political correctness, and the candidates of course. I got to introduce fears of mine that I had not considered at the time of the flyers’ mass printing: one candidate’s words and policies may cause a civil war; the other candidate’s words and policies will cause a world war; and both may cause both! Other natural tangents to our conversations have been on the option of third parties (being taken up by more than a few I have met). I have interjected at this point, somewhat of a reiteration, that “voting for a third party in a structurally two party system is voluntarily signing on for the system and agreeing to let it marginalize your voice further”. The canvassing I did at my college brought me in to contact with some third partiers as well as some asking, “what next: because really, what will not voting really accomplish?”. A good question, and feeling the necessity to give a quick response, I think I did well to the student by saying “growing our own food”. A point, perhaps a weak point, one that hasn’t yet arose in discussion, is: how to differentiate that one’s not voting should be interpreted by the authorities as the symbol of a person disgusted by the status quo and declaring themselves free of the responsibility of condoning government corruption, and a person who is merely apathetic. Not a central issue, but there is lots of room for ambiguity, and misappropriation of intent by the manipulators up on high.
Hopefully the above gives you some flavor of what we commoners are doing in this pen-ultimate month, and what some of our thoughts and reactions are to this continuing and upcoming shit show. There are still 3 weeks left and many doors to be knocked on until the nadir, and a November 9th Coalition for me (and you?) to promote in case it helps smooth out some of the hard landings that truly progressive (my definition probably is quite different than the amorphous term used by people who wear it as an identity) people will feel if they lock themselves in to electoral politics as being the be-all-and-end-all.
Say no more, &
Vote no more!
Voting is not zugzwang, though it is the legitimacy-thirsty oligarchs who like to force it, either culturally as mandatory or legally as compulsory.