Monday, May 12, 2014

My Future As A Voter In 'merica

Pawel Kuczynski
If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it.
-Mark Twain

For the past couple years I have been in a self imposed mental wrestling match focused on the question: To vote, or not to vote.  Until recently, I have always been an advocate of voting in the United States, and elsewhere, and felt that it was a responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to, at the very least, vote.  I also used to look at voting as a form of protest since I have always lived in a intensely pro-republican neck of the woods, and I have always been at odds with the Republican Party policies in general, which put me at odds with many party line voters around me including friends and family.  Most the local issues and local political races I voted for never made it very far politically, but it was a form of protest, right?  Protest voting makes you feel better for a short period of time, but eventually reality settles back in and the oligarchies that rule the political process, and many governments world-wide, become the central problem one focuses on, instead of local or national politics.

At this moment in time, I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to vote in elections.  Due to how US elections are conducted now-a-days the viable candidates that eventually make it to the ballot are suspect of being in someone's pocket due to deals they made to get campaign money prior to being elected.  I have come to believe that the US political process is illegitimate at this point in time, and to vote would make me feel like I am legitimizing a corrupt system.  There are too many broken promises, empty speeches, spin, gerrymandering, and corruption in politics for us to take it seriously anymore.  The press enables corruption by acting sheepish toward candidates and political subjects, and merely repeat what they are told without challenging who is telling them what they report.

The political capital that candidates believe they earn by being elected is really bought and paid for by those who can afford to manipulate our media and political system for their own benefit.  In addition, this political capital that they use to support their arguments publicly is based on an electorate that barely comes out to vote.  Voter turn out is so low now that the political capital argument actually works against them since less than a third of eligible voters actually voted for them.  The rest stayed home, voted for the other candidates, or never registered.  Candidates can afford to ignore popular opinion to an unacceptable degree now.  However, many of these problems have always been a problem in politics to some degree, a politician telling lies to get elected goes back to the days of Plato.  However, this last presidential election really impacted me psychologically, and others I know, and the disingenuous speeches, empty promises and mandates, are too much for me to accept anymore.  As an anti-war voter who voted for Obama twice, I was shocked when I watched him take a 180 degree turn after he won his second campaign, and I personally felt very betrayed, and angry, at the deceit used to gain political power, and my naivety in choosing to support the party and the man politically.

After Buckley v. Valeo in the mid 70's removed limits on expenditures and set the precedent that getting elected is more about money now than politics, spending on elections skyrocketed.  If this situation wasn't bad enough, Citizen's United, and the recent McCutcheon case, has open the floodgates of money from the rich and powerful to the politicians pockets.  Now, the U.S. oligarchy is in full swing.  As a result of these Supreme Court decisions made by neoconservative shills, and the intervention in our politics by rich families like the Koch brothers, fund raising is a politician's primary job as opposed to governing.  The toxic prid-pro-quo atmosphere that currently exists is the result of influential lobbyists developing connections between organizations they represent, and our congressional representatives.

I have also noticed that the ballot propositions that come out every couple years are increasingly riddled with deliberately vague language, or alternatively archaic legaleze many struggle to understand.  The debate for a proposition printed in the official voter information guide I receive in the mail in California prior to elections usually contradicts the opposing side's facts, and vice-versa, and uses disingenuous points to persuade voters.  Researching online is dubious because the only sites covering the info are the ones proposing or combating the proposition.  Some sites are created anonymously, and do not cite references for quotes or other data they provide.  This problem can be solved by news organizations if they weren't owned by the same companies lobbying against, or for, the propositions in question.  If gridlock wasn't such a problem then propositions wouldn't be needed to complete needed legislation.  My point is, there are too many corrupt institutions at every level for our democracy to function adequately.

Year after year it is reported that electronic voting machines can be easily hacked, and seem less secure than traditional punch cards used to be.  The American nationalistic media bias is also warping voters minds to an extreme degree, especially when it comes to international diplomatic affairs, international aid, monetary policy, and our militaristic adventures abroad with servicemen and highly paid mercenary contractors.  All these factors result in Americans supporting the same parties year after year.  Much of this becomes obvious if you read international news on a regular basis, and get out of the polarized propaganda bubble you have been placed in.  Those who choose to stay in the flock do so because there is some cheap comfort in ignorance.

The political system is corrupt, so why participate in it intellectually anymore.  When all we can talk about is propaganda and flat out lies, then all we can conclude is we are lying to ourselves.  So much for the Shakespeare maxim, "This above all, to thine own self be true."

I once joined the Green Party to be just another head in the crowd that didn't want to vote for Democrats, or Republicans, but felt the party wasn't going anywhere, and as a result I wasn't either.  Especially when the press and important televised debate forums censor dissident voices by excluding front runners from parties that aren't Democrat or Republican.  I don't see a difference between not voting, and voting for a third party that gets routinely censored.

This does not mean I am walking away from politics, voting isn't all we can do politically.  There are still some ways to remain politically involved, and make a small difference in local, regional, national, and international politics.  Letter writing campaigns, tweeting, facebooking, blogging, talking to people, protests, phone calling, etc. are all valid means of participation, and I have seen results materialize from those types of actions quite often as opposed to voting.

Testimony from one computer programmer that it is very possible to rig elections, and he was hired to do it.

A documentary named Hacking Democracy was shown on HBO that explained how voting machines have been rigged.

In 2016 during the Arizona democratic primary, polling locations saw suspicious activity as well:

Hearing on how vote rigging happened in Chicago during the 2016 Primary:

Example of how easy it is to hack a voting machine:

Evidence the election is called before it begins: