Well, it’s only appropriate that today, on Halloween, I discuss voting. Voting this year is, first of all, scary as hell. Secondly, it involves people dressing up as something they are not, a practice all-too-familiar to anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to candidates and their empty promises to appease would-be voters. Third, this election involves both tricks for most of us (ie, everyone other than the economic elite) and treats for the candidates and the people they really represent (ie, the economic elite).
Having said that, I think that Noam Chomsky has the most poignant election comments yet, in his interview with Amy Goodman where he discusses his position on this election:
I took exactly the position I took in 2000, namely, the election is a marginal affair, it should not distract us from the serious work of changing the society, and the culture and the institutions, creating a democratic culture. That’s what you work on. You can’t ignore the election. It’s there. But it’s designed as a method of essentially marginalizing the population. There’s a huge propaganda campaign to get people to focus on these personalized extravaganzas, and make them think “That’s politics.” Well, it isn’t. That’s a marginal part of politics, and here, a very marginal part. So the main thing is keep on with your work. You can’t ignore it. You should spend five minutes, maybe, thinking about what you should do. In that five minute, you should recognize there is some difference between the two groups contending for power, and one of them happens to be really extremist, and very dangerous, and it’s already caused plenty of trouble and could cause plenty more. The other is bad, but less extremist and less dangerous. So in that five minutes that you devote to the topic, you should come to the rational conclusion, if it’s a swing state, keep the worst guys out. If it’s another state, do what you feel like. It’s the same thing I said in 2000 during the five minutes of time I spent on it.
My own thinking is similar. My ultimate belief is that The System™ is broken, and voting cannot change that given the bipolar political culture in america. For my own ideals about what good government would be to come to pass, a revolution is required. I know, I know. Be careful what you ask for. But given this, it makes sense for me to look at voting from a “damage control” perspective, and from this perspective, a vote for Kerry would most likely reduce the amount of damage done.
Bottom line, this is going to be an interesting election and aftermath. After the 2000 electile dysfunction, there is precedent for the Republicans to steal votes and commit massive, systematic fraud. In 2000, no one stood up to challenge them; I am of course reminded of the footage of Gore joking in the Senate floor while he hands power over to the Republicans from Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 movie.
This year, the Democrats are paying attention, and the potential for public outrage over election fraud is huge. The “anyone but Bush” crowd is motivated primarily by fear, and electoral fraud would stoke those fires of fear more than just about anything. But the Republicans are more entrenched, and because of the Democratic cowardice in 2000 they have legal precedent on their side. This country is more and more polarized, and the potential for near-civil-war conditions is huge.
I hope this works out with minimal violence. The next few days–and months–are going to be interesting.
On another note, I am completely suspicious of polls that are out. I do see quite a few Bush/Cheney signs, but literally NO ONE I hang out with is a Bush supporter. Believe me, I’ve tried to find one, because I am genuinely curious as to how anyone who uses their brain can support Bush. I really want to ask that question to a Bush supporter: “how can you support this guy?” And I haven’t been able to ask that of anyone.
So when I hear polls that say the race is about even, I am utterly suspicious. How are we to know that the “winner” of the election is really the winner? Just because CNN says so?
Bottom line, it’s impossible to tell.