To Vote or Not to Vote?

Why is that even a question?

Boycott the presidential election or vote for a 3rd party?

Voting for either Obama or Romney certainly won’t change what’s wrong with America.  The narrative provided to us by both parties and the media could make a professional propagandist blush.  There once was a time in advertising that saying something completely false, ridiculous, and untrue would be accepted as fact. Who remembers that Pepsodent had Irium in their toothpaste to fight tooth decay? A completely bogus claim as there ever was. There is no such thing as Irium.  Oh, what they could get away with back then!  Today, an advertisement that tries to pull that off would be as successful as the new Coke, and who knows what fines might be attached by the FCC.

In our political discourse we are at the mercy of Mad Men from the 60s who know they’re living in the 21st Century.  The lies spewing from candidates, elected officials and the media distort reality to such a degree that makes everything said questionable. Netanyahu might have his ACME bomb but what we’re getting is no less preposterous.  Makes one wonder if one should vote at all.

As Glen Greenwald pointed out in the second debate the main stream media perpetuates two particular myths.  One is that Social Security and Medicare are in danger of insolvency. The systems are solid. What’s happening is they are being robbed by other agencies, thus painting a picture of a fund permeated with holes.

The other on foreign policy is when asked about Iran, it’s on the presumption that it is a nuclear weapons threat to the region—farthest from the truth as most people not afraid to read from media sources other than the main stream’s, will tell you.

So is it worth voting this November? What will voting accomplish? Is it a responsibility, a privilege, a duty?  What if voting for either of the two only perpetuates the problems? We know it does and those who continue to vote for either of the two parties are as much responsible for their own demise as for those whom they elect. This is the practical argument for a boycott of the elections. Don’t participate in cutting your own throat.  As Malcolm X said, “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.”

We see Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate who is on the ballot in 85% of the states and mathematically and theoretically eligible for enough electoral votes to be elected. During the presidential food fight at Hofstra University she, and her running mate Cheri Honkala, were arrested for trying to be a part of the debate and chained to a chair for 8 hours.  Is there really much of a difference between Dr. Stein and Pussy Riot? Obama’s no Putin.  Yet.  But both systems are rigged enough to guarantee a victor for the 1%.

The debates were also notable for not asking the questions that truly reflect the angst of the American people. What is being done to help those who have been foreclosed upon and how will the criminals engaged in this economic cleansing be brought to justice?  How are we a country of laws when there is clearly a set of rules for the 1% and another for the rest of us? Obama likes to paint Romney with that brush and enough stupid American voters buy that argument.  How can we speak on behalf of those world-wide fighting for democracy when we support the brutal suppression of Occupiers and ‘Springers’ (as in the Arab Spring) in countries whose brutal governments are on our payroll? Why not a single question, or even a platform, on the very poor? They are invisible in this election!

This all argues for boycotting the election.  Why engage willingly in a racketeering enterprise where you are the victim?

However, for those who believe that the system is rigged and voting for Obama or Romney is self-destructive, yet want to engage in true expressions of political freedom, then getting behind political parties other than the Democrats and Republicans is a legitimate form of political expression. It can be revolutionary. It need not be violent.

Dr. Stein of the Green Party represents a softer version of capitalism, but also addresses the very issues mentioned above. She is probably the best known, at least her party is, and has a theoretical chance of winning.  But there are a number of other parties that are marginal in its numbers of constituents but altogether certainly represent a more radical approach to governing and policies that, incidentally, often reflect a majority of public opinion.  Stephen Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party advocates a workers’ vision of peace and equality in America and throughout the world, positions supported by many, as long as the bugaboo name is initially softened in conversation.  This country just isn’t there yet, where we support socialism with regards to social security, single payer, corporate accountability, etc. but afraid to speak its name.

There are many other parties and individuals out there who represent all spectrums of the political field.  There are other leftists parties as well as far right parties. Let them be out in the open, not having to fight state by state for ballot access. The FCC needs to do its job and provide citizen-taxpaying bandwidth to these different points of view, and equal to that of the two dominant parties.

So the choice remains: To vote or not to vote?

Myles Hoenig is a veteran of the Prince George's County Public School system in Maryland, USA. He's a long time activist for social justice. He lives in Baltimore. Read other articles by Myles.