Vote. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s something.

If you’ve got friends who think they’re “protesting” by not voting, send them this from the Young Turks:

And while we’re on the subject, let’s address the “Both parties are owned by Wall Street” or “neither party represents me” argument: It’s true. There’s lots of stuff I want out of government that neither party is even proposing: single-payer health care, ending the perpetual war, reining in the NSA, enforcing the antitrust laws,  … I could go on.

What that proves isn’t that voting doesn’t matter, but that voting is not enough. In addition to voting, we need to be educating ourselves and our friends, challenging cultural assumptions, mobilizing support around an agenda for more radical change, launching primary challenges to get better Democrats on the ballot, pushing better forms of voting (like instant runoff) and more.

We need to use the political process, and we need a movement like Occupy … plus whatever else you can think of. Not one or the other. Both.

Not voting isn’t a protest, it’s a retreat. Not voting means abandoning the small amount of power the system allots you.

You have a choice tomorrow. There’s one party with a way-too-small response to global warming, and another that that says climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy; one party that keeps the perpetual war simmering reluctantly, and another that would eagerly boil it over; one party that sells out to Wall Street on certain key issues, and another that is 100% owned and operated by Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry; one party with a half-hearted response to economic inequality, and another working to increase inequality; one party that won’t stand up to the theocrats, and another that stands with them. In the near term, one or the other is going to control the government. Which should it be?

Would I like a different choice? Sure I would. But in the meantime I’m going to make the choice I have. Because this one’s simple: Do you want more Ruth Bader Ginsburgs on the Supreme Court or more Anthony Scalias? That decision is going to be made by voters. So don’t you want to be a voter?

Vote. It’s not nearly enough. But it’s something.

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  • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

    It’s not even “something” if you can’t verify that your vote was counted correctly. With computerized voting machines of any variety, there is NO way to verify this. Even with hand-counted paper ballots, you can’t verify that the votes were counted accurately if you don’t get to oversee the process, or if there’s a space in-between the ballot-collection and the ballot-counting where the ballots disappear from the oversight of the public (as in the recent referendum in Scotland).

    • weeklysift  On November 3, 2014 at 8:32 am

      But if you don’t vote, they don’t even have to cheat.

      • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 8:57 am

        Let’s examine that…
        a) if you DO vote, and your vote gets flipped to the opponent of whom you voted for, it’ll appear that you voted against your own best interests, which is how the corporate-owned mass media spin the “results;”
        b) if you don’t vote–AND NOBODY ELSE VOTES (except of course the candidates themselves & their families & buddies & cronies), then the vote count in any given polling place will be something absurd like, maybe, 120 – 86 (IF THAT!), which speaks volumes for the validity of our electoral process, and I’d really like to see how the corporate-owned mass media spin THAT one. Particularly if non-voting observers videorecord who goes in and out of the polling places, and those images can be analyzed to figure out how those people relate to the candidates.

    • Kurt Griffith  On November 3, 2014 at 9:11 am

      “if you don’t vote–AND NOBODY ELSE VOTES”

      Charming idea, but the Radical Right is very motivated and DOES vote, regardless if they have been manipulated to vote against their economic interests and curtailing their own liberties. It is the Progressive and Democratic side that is discouraged, disillusioned and frustrated, and this is BEFORE shameless GOP efforts at voter suppression. – which will proven to be SUCCESSFUL, in close races.

      • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 9:20 am

        The question here is this: is there really a Radical Right which votes against its own economic interests, or are those votes which the corporate-owned media TELL us were by the Radical Right actually Democratic votes which were flipped? Many polls suggest that the vast majority of Americans want progress….

      • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

        It’s very useful to those who benefit from the status quo to be able to suggest that liberals/progressives can’t get anywhere because there’s a large bloc of “radical right” voters who are bound to vote contrary to their own economic interests… another way to divide-and-conquer the 99%

      • weeklysift  On November 3, 2014 at 10:38 am

        Vote-flipping is an interesting theory, but I’m not seeing any of the the stuff I’d expect to see if it were true. I’d expect to see, for example, the outcome of elections depend heavily on what kind of voting system a state had, rather than being relatively consistent from region to region. In supposedly red states, you wouldn’t be able to figure out who all the red voters were, rather than meeting them everywhere. And so on.

      • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 11:04 am

        “…interesting theory?” I just googled “vote flipping proof” and got 16,300,000 hits.
        Q: why would anyone want to BELIEVE that the official vote-count is valid w/out being able to PROVE that it is? Why should voting be faith-based? Why shouldn’t it be a question of FACT?

      • jeherendeen  On November 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

        If the Young Turks were REALLY progressive, they wouldn’t be on the air. (So much for our vaunted Freedom of Speech.)

  • Luzbelitx  On November 3, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Great article!

    It does remind me of our own representation crisis in Argentina in 2001. There was even a slogan “Que se vayan todos” (“May they all leave”).

    It was tragic. Since the traditionally popular party (the one who would resemble the Democrats) had been co-opted by the neoliberal right, no one trusted anyone anymore. (I also see similar processes going on in some European countries, like Spain and France).

    Of course all contexts are different, and the situation in the US is hardly like the one in Argentina in 2001 or even in today’s Europe.

    But, as I see it, “voting is not enough, but it’s something” is true in all those scenarios.

    Maybe even: “voting is not enough, but it’s necessary”.

    We (people anywhere in the world) need to vote. AND we need to get to work. Urgently. Otherwise it will never be enough.

  • SamuraiArtGuy  On November 3, 2014 at 8:59 am

    “…primary challenges to get better Democrats on the ballot”

    If there were better Democrats on the ballot, I’d probably still BE one. I went Independent after we moved, frustrated with the political cowardice, cluelessness and utter lack of leadership and statesmanship and incessant whining for money, without the slightest evidence of any platform beyond “Vote for us, we’re lame, but they’re insane.” That’s not a platform, it’s a CHEER and it STINKS.

    If you want to motivate the Democratic base and to influence Independents from not staying home in droves, give us something to vote FOR, beyond voting against the GOP. We already know they stink, but bring something to the table for the love of God, Apple Pie and puppies!

    Make no mistake, I will be voting tomorrow, and in lieu of attractive Independent candidates, generally lean Democrat. I do agree that a government that is nominally functional, is more able to address the issues facing the nation and our species than under the control of a party that seems determined to tear it down for their owners.

    But there IS a perverse voice in the back of the head whispering, “let the wookie win.”

    Even this morning on “Morning Joe” was that a GOP victory would be the best thing for the Democratic Party and the country. A little accountability would be appropriate, “no more excuses” according to Joe. “Do you want to run the country, or do you want to run your mouth?”

    Or given a chance to REALLY frak things up, maybe the citizenry will take a clue-by-four upside the head and wake up and take our gorram COUNTRY back. And yes, more than voting… or not voting.

  • Sam  On November 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

    We also should be working to change the way that campaigns are funded. People in congress spend 30-60% of their time raising money, which means they are distracted from what they were elected to do – govern the country – and also too focused on the small number of people who make large contributions. Lawrence Lessig (among others) has done lots of good work in this area. Mayday PAC ( is supporting candidates in several races around the country. Their website has info about which candidates support campaign finance reform. They also had a video contest, which produced one of the most fun political ads that I’ve ever seen (for a race in Iowa).


  • By Little by Little | The Weekly Sift on November 3, 2014 at 11:15 am

    […] week’s featured posts are “Vote. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s something.” and “The Case for Voting […]

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