Monday, October 06, 2008

Vote Like It's Your Duty

I wear my political leanings on my sleeve and on my blogroll, but the truth of the matter is in any other system than the one we have, I would most likely be an independent. I understand many of the arguments conservatives make on some issues, and I happen to greatly admire a number of conservatives I know. I think I'm right about most issues, but the truth of the matter is I think it's not as important that you get it 100% right each time as it is that you participate in the process. In my opinion, not voting is not an option. Ever. It's a dereliction of civic duty, and if I were in charge it would be legally punishable just as skipping out on jury duty is.

Craig Ferguson had this wonderful rant a few weeks ago in which he mocked all the efforts to making voting "sexy." You know, the "Rock the Vote" style efforts to persuade folks to drag their sorry asses out of bed early one day every four years and earn the right to call themselves Americans. I completely agree with Ferguson on this. Selling the vote is the wrong approach. Voting is not a lifestyle accessory. It's not a status symbol or membership. It's not supposed to be fun or easy. It's a duty. You do it.

I've heard all the lame, lazy arguments for why people don't register and vote: The system is corrupt. There are no real choices. This isn't a real democracy. Not voting is my way of protesting. My vote doesn't matter anyway. My candidates never win. Boo hoo. Poor you. Something you do doesn't instantly gratify you. Implicit in the "my vote won't change anything" argument is the notion that their vote should count more than other people's do. If they truly believe that they should run for office and represent the rest of us on legislative matters. Otherwise they're deluded and anti-democratic.

I know it's popular to conclude that those who don't vote, don't have a right to complain. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do think those who don't vote are so stupid that whatever it is they complain about isn't worth paying any heed to anyway. The one real opportunity they have to impact how things get done, however tiny that impact may be, and they willingly forego it? Why should anyone take their complaints seriously. They're a joke.

Every election cycle some candidate will claim that this is the most important election of our lifetime. Not since the Great Depression has that been actually as true as it is now in my opinion. Not voting this November is simply unconscionable.

Register.

Vote.

For those artworld political junkies out there, be sure to check out PollTrack. Artnet.com explains:
As if we needed more proof that the art world was eagerly watching the current elections, two of the art world’s most indefatigable political forces, SoHo art dealer Ronald Feldman and curator and art historian Maurice Berger, have launched Polltrack.com, a new website designed to track the contemporary political campaigns, interpret the results of the many polls of voters, and predict the results of the elections.

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voting is just one part of the process. Staying informed is another. It is very difficult to stay informed when the media try very hard to trivialize the issues or distort them.

To vote without information is not helpful to the system. To not vote when you know what's happening really is worse.
ml

10/06/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

an uninformed vote is just noise. Noise is chaotic. i like noise as net as the last parson in line, but yeah, the media is noisy right now.

Yo could blame th epoliticized reporting of Fox News, or the reaction to it at MSNBC or the like - but whos fault is it really?

People get bored hearing the same thing over and over - if news is entertainment - and for many people it is - then it has to be sexy.

The Economist is hard to take - really dry yo need milk, if you have any - and if you can afford the Economist then you probably have organic grass fed whole milk from the farm you own shares in.

But what of the Koolaide drinking masses - many of them lactose intolerant?

No, I'm thinking thirst is quenchable in so many ways, and to reduce voting to some moral duty wthout entrtainment value - without social consequences at both the micro and macro level - then no, voting isnt worth much more than a bucket of warm spit.

10/06/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous jason said...

but I do think those who don't vote are so stupid that whatever it is they complain about isn't worth paying any heed to anyway.

Not your most thoughtful moment, Edward. I realize I'm in the minority here, and most people will probably find this to be either stupid or naive, but some of us don't vote because we think it's a horrible idea to have rulers of any kind, period.

Or, there are others who don't vote on pacifist or anti-militarist grounds, because they realize that a vote for any Presidential candidate is a vote for state violence and militarism.

And to many, it's not even apparent which candidate would be the "lesser of two evils" if one were to vote that way (consider, for example, Christopher Hitchens' quasi-endorsement of Obama as the anti-Pakistan, "more bitter and protracted war" candidate).

Of course, to not vote, and then not do anything at all instead, is self-defeating, if not lazy. But I understand why so many Americans feel disempowered by the electoral process -- it's not difficult to see that the political system is stacked against individuals and in favor of corporate interests, and there's no candidate they can vote for that either has the desire (Obama, McCain) or ability (third parties) to change that.

10/06/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Voting is just one part of the process. Staying informed is another.

I agree, but think it's a bit of a chicken-or-an-egg situation. In other words, I think the more you vote, the more you actually take the time to stay informed.

some of us don't vote because we think it's a horrible idea to have rulers of any kind, period.

Well, you anarchists should found your own country somewhere, prove to the world that it can work, and then work to spread that form of society around the globe. No, wait...that won't work...spreading ideas takes organization. Organization requires at least temporary hierarchy. Temporary hierarchy requires temporary leadership...hmmm...seems doomed to failure, the "shining city of anarchy spreading its self-evident wisdom" model.

You could try to just spread it here, but don't take it personally when I insist they throw you in jail.

Or, there are others who don't vote on pacifist or anti-militarist grounds,

or on religious grounds or on personal history grounds (Grandma got run over heading to the polls one day and I can't stand the idea of voting now) or on specific issues grounds (neither side supports gay marriage so I can't vote for either) or on any number of other childish grounds that boil down to "I won't participate until the system is stacked in my favor."

Sorry, Jason, but it does seem very stupid to me.

10/06/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With people being as uninformed as they are you want everyone to vote? I think it's our civic duty to be informed on the issues. I'm glad most people don't vote. It would just mean every four years all that would matter is who looked best on TV, had the best negative add campaign, and told people what they wanted to hear. Maybe if there was a test involved I wouldn't mind the idea.

Don't worry it will be multiple choice.

10/06/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I think this is the most important election in my lifetime, so I'll vote.

If you don't vote, don't complain about the outcome.

10/06/2008 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous jason said...

You could try to just spread it here, but don't take it personally when I insist they throw you in jail.

So you think people should be thrown in jail just for spreading their political beliefs? I knew I was asking for it, but Jesus, I think this even puts you to the right of Dick Cheney.

And I'm sorry you can't imagine social organizing without rulers, especially considering that so many forms of voluntary organization already exist.

10/06/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I think people should be jailed for trying to overturn the government, which is what I assumed you'd take to be my meaning. Sorry if that was unclear.

Voluntary organizations have hierarchies within them, though, Jason, and many eventually have supreme leaders (the more they organize across larger geographical areas). Those leaders often wield as much power as any head of state, but rarely own the responsibility that goes with that power. This is huge problem to my mind.

None of the voluntary organizations I know would have had the authority to coordinate the response to 9/11 that the city, state and Federal government had, for example.

The aftermath of the attacks, without that authority in place and recognized as such, might have been a very ugly brand of anarchy, as people tried to enter the rubble looking for their families or strike out against anyone they thought looked like a terrorist or decided this presented as good a reason as any other to loot their local electronics store. etc. etc. Who in a wholly volunteer system would be recognized as having the authority to stop them?

Moreover, during the aftermath of 9/11, government authorities knew all the while they were restoring order that they were being watched and would be held accountable for any abuses (for the most part).

If you can extrapolate convincingly how the structure used in voluntary organizations might one day go hand-in-hand with authority that's ultimately accountable to the people, I'd be happy to hear about it.

10/06/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

representative democracy is a problem - Id overthrow it in favor of a direct vote by the rabble - wed get someinteresting votes - a few cartoon characters, some actors, soccer moms, porn stars. And when these entities arrived at congress, they might spend their time arguing over pork barrel projects like amusement parks and pizza for lunch and stuff.

But what if these representatives were given credibility ratings based on their ability to play simulation of reality - a sort of flight simulator for reality? Why can;t we TEST ourrepresentatives in the first place? Call me a facist but some pigs don;t even know what scrapple is.

10/06/2008 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Hmm.. I understand what Jason means, and some of the greatest philosophers argued the same thing and they hardly are regarded as stupid. This said, I always vote, as much as I hate it. Maybe if it was Hitler VS Stalin I would not vote, but I don't really think that would still be an option. Lol!

I can understand withdrawing from jury duty. If a case is likely to go to death sentance, and someone doesn't support this system, then they probably don't want to witness someone being sent to death sentance (jury has little power over this). Also, mafia has so much hands in the justice system, it's laughable.



Cedric Casp

10/06/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Basically, all the places that make sense in America, that is the east and west border, and some parts of the north, vote Obama, and all the places where it's still cowboys and kkk, vote McCain (south and middle-of-the-road america). Florida is an almost surprising tie, but the demographics there have changed.


I'm dumbfounded that Louisiana don't vote Obama. Go figure. I thought they were highly deceived by Bush.

The middle of America looks like a circle of white men with their guns spread outwards, as they gaze with defiance to the menaces coming from the east and west.
If the sea levels rise, I bet they won't shed a tear.


Cedric Caspe

10/06/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I understand what Jason means, and some of the greatest philosophers argued the same thing and they hardly are regarded as stupid.

Argued what same thing exactly? Examples please.

I can understand withdrawing from jury duty. If a case is likely to go to death sentance, and someone doesn't support this system, then they probably don't want to witness someone being sent to death sentance (jury has little power over this).

Not a parallel sub-tangent IMO. Showing up for jury duty doesn't mean you'll be forced to serve on a case for which you can argue that you're not impartial, but you still have an obligation and important role to play by showing up and being there. If defendants knew no one was likely to show up for jury duty, they'd be less likely to cooperate with prosecutors.

10/06/2008 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

If someone who is misinformed votes who are we to judge?

Moreover, if we don't vote because we are above it philosophically, what gives us the right to judge whether or not someone else is voting for the wrong reason?

The right to vote empowers people with the ability to express their opinion in order to form a consensus. The Constitution gives us this right to vote without intimidation of how we should vote or think.

If we say "You are misinformed, you should note vote" then why can't we say "You are a minority, infirm, too old, a woman, black, purple, you should not vote"

It is the highest form of hubris to think that a housewife in Idaho is less informed than an artist in New Jersey. It may or may not be the case but who is to judge, who will we allow to screen out the "less informed"?

Who here really wants to tackle the current financial crisis? Why would you be any good at it? Are you willing to do the work? Are you willing to make an irrevocable decision which affects the lives of thousands?

We like to complain about our elected representatives, but in truth, most of us really do not want to be bothered with the daily job of running a city, state or country. We complain a lot, really bitch about it, but when push comes to shove you don't vote. Voting is the micro level of governing, if you don't vote why should I trust you?

10/06/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post George

10/06/2008 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

the housewife who votes for sarah palin because she's female is welcome to vote for her. But I dont think it amounts to a hill of beans.

And I would gladly work in politics, if it meant I could sip congnac and puff cigars with fellow plutocrats. Sounds like a nice life. WHat do they do all day (I mean when they arent puffing cigars and burning c-notes)?

10/06/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

That's so 19th century.

Politics, painting and the hunt, all pastimes of the rich landed class.

10/06/2008 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspe said...

I'm sure they are plenty fleshy quotes from the cynics, the skeptics, the epicurians, and
later the existentialists, most of whom were against any prescribed authority, and some
of the religious-inclined who believed authority was feeble rights against God. I would
have to check my library, as I haven't read anything about politics in a while. ;-)


It's too cliché to quote Diogenes or Nietzche, but these are some quotes I found on google against voting:




A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public life, if he is to survive for even a short time.

Plato



When voting started, democracy ended.

I think Aristippe of Cyrenus. Or Aristotle.



We should not say - I am an Athenian or I am a Roman but I am a Citizen of the Universe.

Marcus Aurelius



The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Sir Winston Churchill



Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

Benjamin Franklin



Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.

Henry David Thoreau


We should be similarly wary of accepting common opinions; we should judge them by the ways of reason not by popular vote.

Michel de Montaigne



The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.

Gustav Flaubert



They that live under the
government of Democracy, attribute all the inconvenience to that form of Commonwealth.

Thomas Hobbes



I'm sure others would do way better than me. I'm just bad with remembering quotes, but I know the topic individualism vs the social is one that comes up intermittently in Philo 101. Foucault talked so much against politics, that I forgot to what extent his opinion falls on vote.
But what am I doing here? My intention is not to say that I'm anti-vote, but just that I can understand reasoning behind that position. It is just that some opinions are so extreme that vote is simply out of the question. Malcolm X once said, it's not because I live in America that I'm an american. The whole social responsability is fallacious to some degree. I mean, if you are good with your neighbors you are probably doing a lot more for civilization than if you are going to vote. Who can judge them?


Regardless of if someone votes or not, the reason why this moment is specially tense is because the ballots are very tight between two movements. When a society has developed a better sense of commonality, the winning side is so obvious that voting becomes redundant. You are begging for people to vote because the moment is tense. But even if Obama wins, present America has a big problem in that it's being divided.


Cheers,

Cedric Caspe

10/06/2008 10:13:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Just vote you a-holes!

10/06/2008 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Henry Bateman said...

In contrast to America, Australia has compulsory democracy. All Australian citizens must vote in national and state elections.

It creates a very different dynamic in that expressing your desire not to vote is gonna cost you $50. All McCain has to do is create an atmosphere that plays to the undercurrent of racism by giving it an alternative name be it Muslim, lack of experience, domestic terrorist, Elitist, not like us etc etc, any excuse to stay home and he will win by default.
And he just may do it for Joe six pack ain't the brightest light in the harbor, he voted for GWB twice.
Is this election going to be the hat trick?

10/07/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

That's a keen observation from half-way around the world, Henry. Indeed, that is exactly what McCain is doing...playing the racism card. His running mate is worse, actually. She's 90% hate and 10% idiocy, and yet thousands and thousands seem enthralled by her.

All I can say is if those fans thought they survived the Bush fiasco just fine, the McCain-Palin administration will make that one look like a text example of reason and competency.

I honestly think, though, that my personal respect for the majority of my countrymen will be permanently damaged if they elect McCain.

10/07/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Balhatain said...

"I know it's popular to conclude that those who don't vote, don't have a right to complain. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do think those who don't vote are so stupid that whatever it is they complain about isn't worth paying any heed to anyway. The one real opportunity they have to impact how things get done, however tiny that impact may be, and they willingly forego it? Why should anyone take their complaints seriously. They're a joke."

If people have not made up their mind by now they probably won't. The right to not vote is just that, a right. If someone honestly can't decide who to vote for I don't see anything wrong with them not voting. That is... unless you want them voting on hype alone which is not really a good direction to take unless you figure it will help your candidates cause.

"Why should anyone take their complaints seriously. They're a joke."

If people pay their taxes they deserve to be heard regardless if they voted or not. Look at it that way.

10/07/2008 07:45:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"Look at it that way."

No.

10/07/2008 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous welcome to the party said...

Buildings are always erected by people. People are children of their blood, are members or their race. As blood speaks, so the people build

10/07/2008 09:12:00 PM  

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