Vote Not To Vote

My computer is broken so my posting is even less often than usual. Right now I am at the local branch of the Multnomah County Library, where I have 25 more minutes to use the internet. However, seeing as now the election race has begun, because now there are actual tangible machinations occurring rather than the boring and recycled rhetoric of campaigns, I thought I should give my usual spiel.

I DO NOT VOTE FOR PRESIDENT. This is a logical, political decision, and I feel that all of the people (being, the large majority of the population) who disagree with me should deeply consider their own choices in light of the logic that I have used to make my choice. In other words, I'm right, you're wrong, and everyone should listen to me.


I disagree with large aspects of Slavoji Zizek's philosophy for deep, critical and academic reasons that are boring to anyone who doesn't read 20th Century Continental philosophy or Leftist psychoanalysis for fun. However, an analogy that he used to describe America's justification of the Iraq War is quite apt, amusing (as much as such a subject could be), and quite applicable to other situations of similar lapses of logic in favor of ideology. It is called, "The Story of the Borrowed Kettle." It is a joke, which I will paraphrase here:

A man goes to see his neighbor, bringing with him his kettle, now broken, which the neighbor has just finished borrowing. When he confronts the neighbor, the neighbor rebuffs him, telling him it is not his fault for three reasons, first, he returned the kettle in one piece, second, it was broken when it was lent to him, and third, he never borrowed the kettle in the first place.

I don't tell jokes very well. But, the point is that the neighbor has been caught in a lie because in his effort to give overwhelming evidence to his point, he has contradicted his other evidence, three times over.

This is the same sort of flawed logic that people use when they make the decision to vote, and when they argue with me that I am wrong not to vote.

My proposition: the statistical effect of my vote, in our election system, is an insult to the ideals of a governance by the people. Furthermore, the parties are corrupt, political corporations that should probably be run out of town on a rail, if not tried for crimes. And lastly, the idea that any particular candidate could ever inspire my confidence in a state like the United States of America is against what I have come to identify as political truths, any sort of human/natural/ecological justice, and my own life in particular.

The counter-arguments come thick and fast. And the "kettle" rears its ugly, broken spout.

First Kettle, as poured by the typical liberal, fan of American democracy:

1. My vote does make a difference.

2. My vote doesn't make a difference, but if everyone else thought as I did, then one vote would make a difference.

3. Votes don't make a difference at all, but I should vote anyway as some sort of "citizen's duty". Kind of like a pledge of allegiance.

How can any of these three be, seeing as they all contradict each other? And furthermore, they all contradict the statistical fact that one vote does not count. One of my favorite citations for this fact is a book called To Vote or Not to Vote, the authors of which I cannot remember right now. It goes into deep analysis of all the bizarre probabilities that could potentially come into play and shows that no, in fact, a person's vote, among a category of choices, does not matter. They, however, maintain the 3rd option listed above, that despite this statistical fact, it is an important national ceremony of some sort.

There are additional kettles. One regards the candidates. I think that there is can be no candidate for president, under whom I would feel comfortable living as subject. But even for those candidates that I think should be president, under the logic that my vote boycott will not eliminate the executive branch and therefore there should be a person who can do the least harm in the office, the choice to vote for a candidate does not in any way cause a candidate that you wish to be elected. It is false choice, a horrible compromise, that is endlessly cooked down until you have to choose between Shitty A and Shitty B.

Here's the Kettle:

1. Of the two, nominated, major party candidates, one will be a good president.

2. Neither of the two major party candidates are great picks. Therefore, one should vote for a third party candidate, in the spirit of democracy.

3. Voting for a third party or otherwise minority-appeal candidate "throws a vote away". Therefore, you should vote for the candidate that you hate least, that might have a chance.

The way this kettle works is that it attempts to tell me that what my logical pick is, is the person who has already been picked. Regardless of what my political opinions are, it tell me the best place to look for my selection is to see what everyone else has already selected. How is this "My Choice, 2008"?

There are other kettles as well, but my internet time is almost up.

I would like to direct anyone who thinks that they are going to vote, who still isn't sold on the second kettle, to peruse this Democracy Now! interview with Alan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos. They talk about what you are really voting for: not the candidates, but the advisers. And the advisers are the same people already fucking over politics: the ones responsible for war, environmental degradation, and death. So enjoy voting for Obama, losers. I hope you feel good when you do it, like you have the spirit of hope. Because no matter what you do, they've already won.


Anonymous said...

this is pretentious + ignorant.

Adam Rothstein said...

1. Good argument. Takes you out of the ignorant category.

2. Thank you for having the fortitude to stand by your statements by posting your name. This removes you from pretentious category.

3. In general, thanks for taking the time to post a comment. I can tell from your use of the "+" sign, that you really took a long time to think about what I wrote, and therefore, took a similar amount of time in crafting an intelligent response. Is it possible, that you work/volunteer for a campaign? Perhaps Obama? Because your ability to utilize short buzzwords should really make you invaluable to supporting such a similarly well-reasoned and well-explained effort. Better yet, you could volunteer for Rock the Vote. Because you Rocked the Blog Comment, dick!

4. Also, thanks for adding to my argument. In considering the flaws in the logical arguments for a person to vote, I forgot to mention the people who are incapable of providing any argument whatsoever, and simply vote, because hey, you gotta be stupid not to vote, 'cause voting is good. People like 'anonymous' here, that fill up the discourse with such pointless and meaningless accusations. Anonymous says, "Hillary would be a good president." Anonymous says, "Citizenship is important." Anonymous says, "Obama has the best healthcare platform." Anonymous says, "I believe the words that come out of candidate's mouths." Thank you anonymous, everyone has now lost 7 seconds from their life that they will never get back.