"Voting" with the Non-Voters

by Philip Greenspan

November 15, 2004   


(Swans - November 15, 2004)   As I predicted, my group, the eligible non-voters, far outnumbered the voters who chose Dubya. It wasn't much of a prediction -- it was a sure thing. Non-voters always outnumber the winning candidate.

The public has been indoctrinated to believe that voting is democracy; that citizens select the people who will chart the course and manage the country. Hogwash! Ultimate power is exercised by a hierarchy composed of corporate America and the wealthiest. Their huge contributions to both major parties insure their continual control irrespective of who wins.

Elections are an elaborate charade that diverts the public's attention while the elite pick their pockets. It is extremely successful, as almost everyone believes the fairytale that voters hold the power.

'The lesser of two evils' is a cliché repeated over and over and over again from one election to the next. There never seems to be a candidate that is enthusiastically supported by the public. But that's because the system was designed that way. If the elite are to retain power, candidates of both major parties must be approved by them. Accordingly those candidates cannot and will not pursue the interests of the public.

Those who are aware of the elite's power and refuse to buy in to their slick game feel the solution is to choose a principled third party candidate who cannot be controlled or bought off. Third parties have come and gone. None ever won the presidency or a small chunk of the Senate or House. No third party during the entire history of the country was able to make much of a dent.

The best showing occurred when the Republican Party split and Teddy Roosevelt, a former president, decided to run for a third term as the candidate of the Bull Moose Party. He had been a very popular president and his party's platform had an attractive agenda that garnered broad support. It included direct election of senators; creation of an initiative, referendum and recall process; woman's suffrage; child labor laws; and old-age pensions. He ran ahead of Taft, the Republican running for re-election, but got only 27.5 percent of the vote and 88 electors to Woodrow Wilson's 41.9 percent and 435 electors. Many other popular and well-financed third-party candidates tried but none came close to Roosevelt's figures.

Obstacles facing third parties are now greater than those of the past.

If a miracle were to happen and some charismatic chap arrived on the scene at a fortuitous time to captivate the electorate and win, those checks and balances, that we learned about in our civics classes would crush every proposal that the power elite disapproved of.

Voters who pick a third-party or write-in candidate know their choice will not make much of a splash. They vote to protest the existence of the Tweedle twins, Dee and Dum, on the top of the ballot.

Does that protest vote really have much effect? To the losing party it does, especially if it could have won had it captured those protest votes. But the power elite are quite content with many ineffective third parties. It gives the rigged system a more authentic appearance of democracy and provides more distractions from their furtive activities.

Every vote, whomever it is for, is a ratification of the established order. It implies that the voter approves of the system and will abide by its results. The system obviously stinks, but by utilizing it voters endorse it.

Why then do they bitch about the results? With an undemocratic system what results were they expecting? Their complaints should be directed against the system and not the parties or the candidates. The system is corrupt. It always was. It was created to keep the elite in power and that's what it has always done.

Loyal but dissatisfied citizens have tried to correct the deficiencies over the years. They have worked within the rotten system and have been successful after exerting major efforts over long periods of time while being harassed and abused.

Those progressive reforms listed above that were planks in the Bull Moose Party platform were eventually adopted. Wasn't that great? Doesn't that show that the system works?

It might seem so. But it is so corrupt that the reforms never seem to correct the problem. Suffrage has been extended to women, the young, minorities; and primaries have taken candidate selection away from the party bosses' smoke-filled rooms. Has the quality of candidates and elected leaders improved?

Legislation strongly favored by the public never gets enacted. Why? A special interest group turns thumbs down on it. Example: health care. In opposition are the HMO's, the insurance industry, and the medical establishment. How much moolah do you think they give the parties? Elected officials are well aware of what the public wants and puts on a show to convince the public that they are earnestly working for them. They set up committees and subcommittees; they hold hearings; they subpoena witnesses; they listen to all sides pro and con, the public and industry; they produce thousands of pages of reports; they confer, debate and compromise. And after all that noise, babble and hoopla they produce something that the generous industries are happy with and something that the media toadies can convince a desperate public is the health care they should get -- not an overwhelmingly supported socialized program like Canada's.

The results of their reforms make bad situations even worse. Recall the fanfare that greeted the McCain-Feingold-Cochran Campaign Reform Bill. Did it reduce excessive payoffs thrown at political candidates? Nope, this year's election reaped more payola than ever. Great reform!

The system can't be fixed with micro changes -- it needs a macro change. Throw the whole damn thing out and create a truly democratic arrangement.

How? Don't vote.

Join the largest party of all. A party that always outnumbers the winner's total. A party that not only rejects the two major parties but the edifice that supports them and the entire crooked system. It is time to throw out the bath water and Rosemary's baby as well.

Rather than expend time, effort and money on creating a third party to appeal to a small fraction of the electorate, it should be expended to keep more people from the polls.

Although the non-vote group is sizeable, that information does not get much disclosure. Articles analyzing elections often break down the results by various categories --gender, party, age, race, religion, etc. -- but the non-voters are rarely mentioned. How many times have you heard or read that Bush was the choice of half the electorate? Where were the non-voters in that calculation? His share was really about one-quarter.

Why is the existence of such a large block of people neglected by the news media? Is it because this great democratic society is humiliated that so many of its citizens have checked out of this most important ritual?

The establishment, desirous of reducing the non-voting percentage, continually urges the public to vote, claiming it's a civic responsibility. Baloney! That corrupt system must be replaced first. The establishment's humiliation should be augmented. How legitimate would an election seem if ample press coverage revealed that two-thirds or three-quarters did not take part?

Advertising campaigns advocating non-voting should be launched. Imaginative copy might induce discouraged voters that non-voting is the key they've been searching for. They will still be voting in an alternate way knowing that a non-vote is a vote against a corrupt undemocratic system!

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Published November 15, 2004
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