I wish I could vote. I'm informed all too often that I'm avoiding
the American way should I not vote. I'm told voting produces a patriotic tingle of joy, that it's a privilege and that I'm dishonoring all the brave soldiers who fought for my freedom. How dare I commit the sin of not voting. I may as well dismiss apple pie as toxic and motherhood as immoral.
Why don't you vote?
Well for starters, the constitution, a faulty, out of touch document that rationalizes violence, blatantly states in Article I, Section 8 and Article II, Section 2 that the president shall be "commander in chief of the Army and Navy" or with Obama, the Nobel Peace laureate, "drone-bomber in chief." Yes, sorry to disappoint all the adamant Obama supporters out there.
Time after time, each president is sworn in to "protect," "defend," and even defer to the constitution. America has demonstrated how we are by definition insane -- doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I prefer the trite adage, "If something doesn't work, try something else." So in that sense, it really doesn't matter who is elected because the president will always have that power, engineered from the White House, to justify violence and war-making. As a growing believer in the power of pacifism and ruinous nature of violence, I cannot allow myself to vote. Voting means transferring power and approving of military violence -- whether the killing of uncountable civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan or the loss of American soldiers -- as a viable means of conflict resolution. Voting guarantees our violent course continues, waging wars like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan that can't be won, explained, or afforded. Until nonviolent conflict resolution finds a place in the constitution and in the hearts of politicians, sanctioning violence will always be the go-to option for handling disputes.
But no candidate is perfect! Just vote for the lesser of two evils!
I think of the NFL rule change that moved kickoffs from the 35 yard line to the 40 yard line when I hear this plead. So by limiting the frequency of kickoffs, there's a smaller chance that players will become concussed, right? The result of the rule change? Players still get concussed. My point: even the lesser of two evils is still pretty evil.
I don't settle for a lesser evil. I strive for the best. Ranking evils to me is like deciding if I rather die by drowning or getting stabbed. In 1956, W.E.B. DuBois wrote:
"I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no 'two evils' exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and will be elected despite all I can do or say."
What about third party candidates?
Yes, what about them? Where are they? Why couldn't we see Libertarian Gary Johnson call out Obama in 2012 for failing to close Guantanamo? Would it be so bad if we saw the Greens' Jill Stein criticize Obama and Romney for hardly addressing the growing homeless rate or prison reform? Would it be so bad if we saw the Socialists' Stewart Alexander confront Romney for calling 47 percent of American's parasites? We don't have a two-party political system after all. The spewing lies and evasions of Trump and Clinton are unchallenged as well. Mark Dutter, Robert Dionisio, Jeremiah Pent, Lynn Kahn and Daniel Zutler have all come out against the two-party system. Why haven't we heard of these third party candidates again?
I'd like to mention that we spend over $800 billion annually on the military and security programs. Except for Carl Sagan, that number is too large to make sense of. Let's break it down. It's $27,000 a second. $27,000 a second. $27,000 a second. Someone please stop me. $27,000 a second. That's a whopping $108,000 going to the military in just four seconds. If I'm lucky and make $2,000 at my summer job, then I've made 7.4% of the spending that goes to the military in one second. But enough with numbers. Our bloated military funding affirms MLK's 1967 judgement that "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [is] my own government" and "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Gosh, I love MLK.
But not voting won't solve anything! You have to make your voice heard!
Pushing a button once every four years is really doing your part, huh? I wish I could buy into the simplicity of that. Also, why wait that long to make your voice heard? I may not vote for political candidates, but I still vote. I vote everyday. I vote where I spend my time and money, our two most important assets. I vote for me. I vote for you. Instead of voting for presidents, I find ways to increase peace and decrease violence, getting involved in what I can to make a difference because all lasting social reform necessary for creating a peaceful society starts from below, not above.
I promise you that by not voting, I will not let you down.
I've encountered two kinds of supporters of voting. The first kind don't really want me to just vote; they want me to vote for the candidate they like, the candidate they are voting for. If God forbid I want to vote for another candidate than my friends then I distance myself from them even more.
The second kind are in my face telling me to "vote!" You don't even care who I vote for. It's just important that I vote? Is that what you're saying? This type of thinking gives me a bigger headache than watching a show on Bravo. My vote is putting someone in charge of our whole nation. How can anyone be expected to vote or be capable of voting on something that grand when all you tell them is to "vote!"?
If someone can provide me with proof that voting has made the U.S. government less militaristic and more humane, I might reconsider. I'm still waiting for that proof.
Nonvoters avoid being suckered into believing that presidential elections -- shows
fueled by two candidates who over-promise and under-deliver- - are
democracy in the making.
You're just trying to be different.
You have to be different to make a difference.