Consent to Tyranny: Voting in the USA - by Mark E. Smith
Five essays on the US electoral system.
After the 2000 election when the Supreme Court stopped the vote count and announced that there was no Constitutional requirement that the popular vote be counted, I, like many others, joined the election integrity movement to try to find ways to ensure that our votes would count. After six years of activism and research, I learned that the Supreme Court had been correct, and that not only was there no Constitutional requirement that the popular vote be counted, the US Constitution had vested power in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, as the third essay below explains. In other words, the United States is not a democracy, it is a Constitutional tyranny. So I stopped voting in 2006 and became an election boycott advocate. Finding myself banned from many liberal and progressive websites for urging people not to vote in sham elections, I started posting my essays here on my own website http://fubarandgrill.org The first essay below was written when Cindy Sheehan was running for office. Based largely on the experiences of John Conyers with regard to the Downing Street Memos, it is a response to those who think that independent or third party candidates might accomplish something by working within the current system, or that it is worth voting for local candidates.
The second essay was in response to a Democratic Party operative who was instrumental in co-opting Occupy San Diego away from direct democracy and channeling it into politics as usual. He and his vigilante cohorts were so brazen that on the 100th anniversary of the Free Speech Fight in San Diego, a historic event when anarchist Emma Goldman had been run out of town and Ben Reitman tortured for saying things like, "If voting could change anything, they'd make it illegal," these liberals stood on the same spot downtown and pretended to be advocates of free speech instead of the statists they are. I used these essays, particularly the fifth one, which explains why voting is the consent of the governed, as the basis for Occupy teach-ins, but my voice was almost entirely drowned out by the sheer numbers of political operatives registering voters for their particular causes or candidates. It was the fourth essay, which rebuts most of the common arguments for voting used by political operatives, and was written in response to one of those modern day vigilantes, that got more than six thousand views, which isn't bad for a tiny website with no more than a dozen regular readers.
And then a strange thing happened. Somebody posted that essay to a liberal website, the admins deleted it, somebody else asked where it had gone and posted a link to it on Fubar, and it got about four thousand more hits in a couple of weeks. So I decided, since this seems to be an idea whose time has come, to post my top five essays on voting in one place for convenient access. All may be freely reproduced in whole or in part, with or without accreditation. Enjoy and share! Below some of the essays is a link to where it was originally posted on Fubar, for those who might wish to look at the informative discussions which followed.
--Mark E. Smith
@fubarista on Twitter
The Fable of Lanova Messiah
Lanova Messiah is a hero of the peace movement here in Exxonia. Lanova's mother was tortured and killed by the corrupt dictator who is currently our country's President. Lanova has been arrested many times protesting the crimes of our government, most recently at the office of one Member of Parliament who had promised to help us remove our dictator from power, but has not, and at the office of another who is also from Lanova's own political party but is protecting the dictator instead of protecting the people. So it was with great joy that we learned that Lanova is running for Parliament herself.
Of course we know that if elected, Lanova would be a junior member with no seniority, but we are happy to have a chance to vote for someone who cares about peace as much as we do, and who we know to be incorruptible. We also know that Exxonian elections are rigged, but we think that Lanova has a good chance of winning anyway. The only candidates with a chance of winning the Presidential election are one from the dictator's political party and one from Lanova's own party, but both have consistently voted for everything the dictator wanted and, if elected, are committed to continuing the dictator's agenda of atrocities and crimes against humanity. So if the private corporations that really run our country, and that own and program the voting machines, want the two-party system to retain any credibility at all, they may allow Lanova to have a token and powerless seat in Parliament. From the point of view of the corporations, this might help allay the growing rebellion within the citizenry, and will put Lanova in a position where she can be more easily controlled.
Exxonia's two ruling parties are the Corrupt Party and the Not-As-Corrupt Party. Like most decent Exxonians, Lanova is a member of the Not-As-Corrupt Party, but will have to run as an independent in order to get her name on the ballot in the next election. Once elected, however, Lanova will be considered part of the Not-As-Corrupt Party's voting bloc, despite being nominally independent. The job of the Corrupt Party in Exxonian politics is to promote the agenda of war crimes and atrocities to further enrich the already wealthy elites. The job of the Not-As-Corrupt Party is to support the same criminal agenda, but not quite as fervently. In this way they can co-opt those citizens who oppose war crimes and prevent them from opposing the system by allowing them to cling to the illusion that change could come about from within the system itself. Only half of Exxonia's citizens, seeing that their only choice is between flagrant supporters of war crimes and less flagrant supporters of war crimes, reject this as an unreasonable choice and refuse to vote in our rigged elections at all.
The overwhelming majority of Exxonians are unhappy with our government, but we show our displeasure by voting in rigged elections and by calling on our corrupt dictator and his lapdog Parliament to change their ways. We are a peaceful people with a relatively comfortable standard of living, and we are not given to violence. Of course we know that our government is a military superpower and one of the world's biggest arms dealers, so we can see how futile a violent revolution would be, even if we were to attempt one.
We Exxonians think of our Parliament as a sacred institution. This idea is perpetuated in the schools among the youngest children and is deeply ingrained. We revere the founders of our country who did not give us a mere dictatorship, but a dictatorship with the appearance of a democratic apparatus, Parliament, that had the possibility of being responsive to the people. We know that with one or two exceptions, all the Members of Parliament are wealthy elitists who can't be held accountable to their constituents, but we like to pretend that the rich aren't greedier and more corrupt than anyone else. We desperately need to believe that if Lanova is elected, and particularly if a handful of Lanova's colleagues are also elected, we will finally have achieved a real voice in government through our electoral process.
Deep in our hearts we know, of course, that our sacred institution of Parliament is really nothing more than a bureaucracy designed to shield the powerful from our grievances and our wrath. Like any bureaucracy, it has a hierarchy, a strict chain-of-command, complex procedures, and time-tested ways of dealing with troublemakers and insubordination. Facing the truth that our sacred institution is nothing more than a bureaucracy, however, would force us to accept the fact that we do not really have a voice in government, so this is something that we cannot do. We not only remain in deep denial with regard to this crucial issue, but we attack anyone who mentions it with the fury of those who have convinced themselves that a naked emperor is regally garbed.
Let's take a look at what Lanova will encounter in Parliament once elected. First of all there will be the complicated procedures that must be followed. For help in understanding and navigating these obstacles, Lanova will hire competent staff members who have made careers out of trying to work within these rocky channels. Naturally, it will never occur to such people to try to do away with the obstacles or to find ways to go around them, because then what would they do for a living? So Lanova will be taught about the proper procedures and how to follow them.
Lanova's first actions in Parliament, of course, will be similar to the actions that Lanova has taken as an ordinary citizen. She will attempt to speak out on the floor of the House of Commons, but will always be ruled out of order. She can then choose whether to confine her speeches to after hours sessions, where TV cameras will film her speaking to an empty room, or to continue attempting to speak out while the House is in session until she has been pronounced out of order, declared in contempt, and ushered from the floor by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Parliamentary Police and arrested enough times to justify having her removed from Parliament by reason of having a criminal record.
It is also possible that Lanova will decide to abide by the rules of Parliament and attempt to work within those rules to persuade Parliament to remove the dictator from power and to stop funding his war crimes. But being a freshman, Lanova will not have any important committee assignments or any seniority with which to qualify for such assignments, so Lanova's legislation is unlikely to ever make it out of committee and get to the floor for a vote so that she can discuss it without being arrested. Lanova will quickly become frustrated and realize that in order to accomplish anything, it is necessary to first have more power, which would mean remaining in Parliament so as to gain more seniority. In order to do this, it is necessary to raise vast amounts of campaign money, so instead of legislating, Lanova, like all other Members of Parliament, will have to spend almost every waking moment trying to raise funds instead of legislating. Lanova will therefore need more staff to read and brief her on legislation that has reached the floor, and to remind her when it is time to vote.
Lanova's office will quickly be bombarded by hordes of lobbyists trying to influence the way that Lanova votes, so even if Lanova intends to ignore them, it will be necessary to have more staff to deal with them. And since lobbyists can often make the fundraising process easier, it is likely that due to her need to gain more seniority so as to be able to accomplish anything, Lanova's staff will at least have to be courteous to the lobbyists. Lanova's capitol and district offices will also be besieged by constituents seeking her assistance with personal and community problems, so Lanova will need more staff to cope with constituents. Parliamentarians themselves, no matter how much they may care about their constituents, simply don't have the time to communicate with them other than in town meetings during campaign season. Without her staff, Lanova would be as hobbled as a prerevolutionary Chinese woman with bound feet. But given a large and dedicated staff, including both paid professionals and unpaid interns and volunteers, Lanova will be able to concentrate on raising money to stay in office and gain the seniority necessary to have the power to accomplish anything in Parliament.
As a fierce warrior for freedom and the child of a martyr, Lanova may seek to circumvent the bureaucratic procedures of Parliament. This will be seen, by the corporations that really run Exxonia, as troublemaking and insubordination, so they will instruct the leaders of Lanova's party to punish Lanova by removing whatever seniority she may have gained, or refusing to grant her the privileges to which such seniority usually entitles one. Lanova may be denied committee memberships, and her party can easily withhold support for her legislation and, by endorsing and financing her opponent, substantially increase the costs of her subsequent political campaigns. If Lanova wishes to remain in Parliament long enough to gain the power to accomplish anything, she will find herself having to submit to party discipline, at least to a limited extent. Lanova will never become her Party's leader in Parliament, of course, because only those who commit to not opposing the dictator can rise to that position.
After many terms in office, if she submits to party discipline, Lanova may find herself the powerful head of a powerful committee. But she will still not have the power to accomplish anything. Even if her committee has the votes to get legislation to the floor, there are unlikely to be enough votes in Parliament to pass it. And of course it could still be rejected by the upper body (the House of Lords), vetoed by the Dictator, or struck down as unconstitutional by the dictator's Council of Final Decisions, the highest law of the land from which there is no possible appeal. And if Lanova tries to subvert Parliament by carrying her appeals directly to the people, she would be removed from her committee chairmanship by her party's leadership, she would no longer have subpoena power, and she would have to hold her hearings in a basement broom closet instead of in a grand committee hearing room. If she persisted, she might even be assassinated or "suicided." But by then the dictator will have died or have been replaced with another dictator, and a new generation of idealists will be getting themselves arrested sitting in at Lanova's office, trying to force her to fulfill her promises to do that which it is impossible to do by working within our bureaucratic system.
But these are things that we dare not think about. So we in Exxonia are overjoyed at Lanova's decision to run for Parliament. We are sending her money, volunteering to work for her campaign, and those fortunate enough to live in her district will have the privilege of voting for her, whether or not their votes are actually counted. We are grateful that we live in a free country with a democratic Parliament, and that we have such patriots as Lanova to represent us.
Lanova Messiah for Parliament! Viva Lanova! Long live the democratic Republic of Exxonia!
The Value of Voting
During a long discussion on one of his forums, long-term Democratic Party organizer and former Democrat Congressional candidate Ray Lutz accused me of being opposed to voting. This was my response:
A democratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the people. That's the dictionary definition and even Ray agreed to it.
An undemocratic system of government is one in which power is vested in the hands of the government. That government could be a dictatorship, a monarchy, a plutocracy, an oligarchy, or even a pseudo-democracy, but if power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, the system does not meet the definition of a democratic form of government.
In a democratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the people, voting is the most precious right of all, as it is the way that the people exercise the power vested in them, either directly by voting on issues, budgets, and policies, or indirectly by voting for representatives who are obligated to represent their constituents and can be directly recalled by the people at any time that they fail to represent the people who elected them.
In an undemocratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people, voting is totally worthless and a waste of time, as the people do not have power and the government doesn't have to count their votes, can miscount and/or ignore their votes, can overrule the popular vote, and elected representatives are not obligated to represent their constituents but can represent their personal beliefs or philosophies, their big donors, or whatever they wish, and cannot be held accountable as long as they continue in office, which is the only time that people need them to represent the interests of the people.
In an undemocratic form of government, voters can hope that their votes might be counted, can hope that their elected officials might represent them, but have no power to ensure that their votes are counted or that their elected officials actually represent them.
The system makes all the difference. As an analogy, breathing is a good thing and we humans couldn't survive without being able to breathe. But underwater or in a toxic environment filled with lethal gas, breathing can bring about death more quickly than holding one's breath and trying to escape. Breathing isn't always a good thing, it is only a good thing in an environment with oxygen suitable for human life.
The same is true of voting. In a democratic system, voting is precious and essential. In an undemocratic system, it can be fatal, as it can allow the destruction of the economy, military adventurism, obstacles to basic human rights such as jobs, education, food, clothing, shelter, and health care, and other tragic consequences of allowing government to exercise uncontrolled power rather than vesting power in the hands of the people.
Most people in the US today are opposed to our government's ongoing wars of aggression. Even those who are uninformed and uneducated, who aren't aware that historically, the way that most empires fell was because they became militarily overextended, sense that there is something wrong with spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars while basic domestic needs go unmet. But because we do not have a democratic system of government, we have no power to end the wars. The best we can do is vote for candidates we hope might end the wars, but if, like Obama, they expand the wars instead of ending them, there is nothing we can do about it because our government has the power to start or end wars and we do not. If wars were on the ballot, it could only be as a nonbinding referendum, as there is no Constitutional way to force the government to obey the will of the people. The Constitution vested power in the government rather than in the hands of the people.
I do not oppose voting any more than I oppose breathing. I oppose voting only when it occurs within an undemocratic form of government, thus legitimizing an undemocratic form of government and consenting to be governed undemocratically, just as I oppose breathing only when in a toxic or anaerobic environment where breathing can be fatal. Just as I would want to try to help anyone trapped in a toxic or anaerobic environment hold their breath until they could escape, I want to try to help people trapped in an undemocratic form of government withhold their votes until they can escape. If I tell a drowning person to hold their breath until they can get their head above water, I am not condemning breathing. If I tell people not to vote until they have a democratic form of government, I am not condemning voting. In both cases, I am trying to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to promote the general welfare.
The Counterrevolutionary Constitution
We've all been taught in school that the Founders of the United States of America fought a revolution that freed the colony from British rule. That much is true. They even drew up a list of complaints to explain why that revolution was necessary, which was published as The Declaration of Independence. In it they clearly enumerated the instances of tyranny that the colonists would no longer passively endure, but also laid out the principles of democracy they wished to establish:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
The lie we were taught to believe is that the Constitution of the United States of America established such a government and was the legitimate result and continuation of the revolution. It was not. It was a counterrevolutionary document and it totally betrayed the revolution.
It was not at all self-evident to the Framers that all men are created equal. In the Constitution they counted some men as equal but others as only three fifths persons. This was done to placate the slave-holding states into ratifying the Constitution.1
The Framers not only didn't secure the unalienable rights of Blacks to liberty, but denied those rights by allowing slavery, which is the opposite of liberty, to continue.
Although the Founders stated clearly that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, the new Constitution didn't bother to ask for the consent of the majority of the governed. Blacks, Native Americans, indentured servants, women, and landless workers were certainly to be governed under the new Constitution, but they were not granted the right to vote. White male landowners were allowed to vote, but to ensure that the United States would be a plutocracy where those who owned the country ruled it, even their votes were not granted the decisive role they would have in a democracy. They were prohibited from voting for Senators or for President and Vice-President, and the Constitution made Congress, not citizens, the sole "Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members...." There was no guarantee that the popular vote even had to be counted, no less taken into account, and it could be overridden by the Electoral College, Congress, or the Supreme Court.
The revolution, fought to establish equality and democracy, had been betrayed by a Constitution that condoned inequality and established a plutocracy.
But the Framers didn't stop there. In their counterrevolutionary zeal, and against the wishes of Thomas Jefferson and other delegates, they gave an unelected body, the Supreme Court, the power to made decisions that could not be appealed. Such totalitarian power in the hands of unelected people is contrary to the most basic principles of democracy. This was exactly the sort of power that King George had and that the colonists revolted against. They were able to, and frequently did, petition the king for redress of grievances, but they had no vote in his decisions and his edicts could not be appealed. In establishing the Supreme Court, the Framers once again betrayed the revolution and established an undemocratic distribution of power that the Founders had shed blood to rid us of.
There are many more examples, some of which I've mentioned in my other writings, but these should suffice to demonstrate that the Constitution of the United States of America was a counterrevolutionary document and a betrayal of the democratic principles set out in the Declaration of Independence.
1. Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification, by David Waldstreicher
You've Got to Stop Voting
The most common activist strategies, such as street demonstrations, protests, etc., rarely seem to bring about any change in government. There is only one nonviolent tactic that has been proven to work. Recently I asked the new president of a local activist group that had banned me from speaking, if I would be allowed to speak under the new leadership. I explained that I'm an election boycott advocate. The reply I got was:
"So my question is - how does NOT voting change anything? I can see actually writing in someone you believe in - but not voting simply is giving up."
I decided to answer the question as thoroughly as I could. Here's what I wrote, which I'm posting here with the person's name removed:
South Africa endured many years of violence under the Apartheid regime. Many people and countries worldwide boycotted Apartheid, but the US government insisted on supporting the Apartheid regime, saying that while the US abhorred Apartheid, the regime was the legitimate government of South Africa. Then the Apartheid regime held another election. No more than 7% of South Africans voted. Suddenly everything changed. No longer could the US or anyone else say that the Apartheid regime had the consent of the governed. That was when the regime began to make concessions. Suddenly the ANC, formerly considered to be a terrorist group trying to overthrow a legitimate government, became freedom fighters against an illegitimate government. It made all the difference in the world, something that decades more of violence could never have done.
In Cuba, when Fidel Castro's small, ragged, tired band were in the mountains, the dictator Batista held an election (at the suggestion of the US, by the way). Only 10% of the population voted. Realizing that he had lost the support of 90% of the country, Batista fled. Castro then, knowing that he had the support of 90% of the country, proceeded to bring about a true revolution.
In Haiti, when the US and US-sponsored regimes removed the most popular party from the ballot, in many places only 3% voted. The US had to intervene militarily, kidnap Aristide, and withhold aid after the earthquake to continue to control Haiti, but nobody familiar with the situation thought that the US-backed Haitian government had the consent of the governed or was legitimate.
Boycotting elections alone will not oust the oligarchy, but it is the only proven non-violent way to delegitimize a government.
A lot of people here are complaining about the Citizens United decision. Some want to amend the Constitution because there is no appeal from a Supreme Court decision (their edicts have the same weight as the Divine Right of Kings), but getting enough states to ratify is a long drawn out and not always successful process, as I'm sure you recall from the ERA. But suppose that the corporations spent ten to fifteen billion dollars on an election (they spent at least five billion on the last midterms, so that's not unreasonable) and almost nobody voted. Do you think their boards of directors would let them do it again?
Here are some of the most common canards that political party operatives use to argue against not voting:
1. Not voting is doing nothing.
If you're doing something wrong, or something that is self-destructive or hurting others, stopping might be a good idea. If delegating your power to people you can't hold accountable has resulted in the devastation of your economy, do you really want to keep doing it? If granting your authority to people you can't hold accountable has resulted in wars based on lies that have killed over a million innocent people, do you really want to keep doing it? If granting your consent of the governed to people you can't hold accountable has resulted in government operating on behalf of big corporations and the wealthy instead of on behalf of the people, do you really want to keep doing it?
2. If we don't vote the bad guys will win.
We've been voting. When did the good guys win? Besides, it is often hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Suppose Gore had won, and then died of a heart attack. Do you think the Democrats who voted for him would have been happy with Joe Lieberman as President? Besides, Gore actually did win the popular vote. The Supreme Court stopped the vote count and put Bush in office. So just because the good guys win doesn't mean that they get to take office. Kerry also won the popular vote, but before anyone could finish counting the votes, he had to break both his promises, that he wouldn't concede early and that he would ensure that every vote was counted, in order to get the bad guy back in office again. Our Constitution was written to ensure that those who owned the country would always rule it, so the popular vote can be overruled by the Electoral College, Congress, the Supreme Court, or by the winning candidate conceding, and is not the final say. Even if we had accurate, verifiable vote counts, and everyone who voted, voted for a good guy, it doesn't mean that good guy could take office unless the Electoral College, Congress, and the Supreme Court allowed it. Even then, the good guy might fear that the Security State might assassinate him they way they killed JFK, and either concede or stop being a good guy in order to survive. The Supreme Court, of course, has the Constitutional power to intervene on any pretext, and its decisions, no matter how unconstitutional, irrational, unprecedented, or even downright insane, can not be appealed, so they do have the final say.
3. If you don't vote, you can't complain.
What good does complaining do? When successive administrations of both parties tell you that they will not allow public opinion to influence policy decisions, you can complain all you want and it won't do you any good. But you don't need to vote to have the right to complain. The Declaration of Independence is a long list of complaints against a king by colonists who were not allowed to vote. The right to gripe is one of those unalienable rights that is not granted by governments or kings. If you're treated unjustly, you have the right to complain. A lot of people who voted for Obama are now angry with his policies and are complaining loudly. He couldn't care less.
4. It is a citizen's responsibility and civic duty to vote.
Only if the government holding the election has secured your civil and human rights. If it has not, if it has instead become destructive of your civil and human rights, "...it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." —Declaration of Independence
5. Your vote is your voice in government.
In a democratic form of government it would be. In a democratic form of government, such as a direct or participatory democracy, people can vote on things like budgets, wars, and other important issues, and have a voice in government. In our "representative" government, people can only vote for representatives who may or may not listen to them or act in their interests, and who cannot be held accountable during their terms of office, which is the only time they hold power and are needed to represent the interests of their constituents. Waiting until somebody has killed a million people in a war based on lies, destroyed the economy, and taken away your civil rights, and then trying to elect somebody else, is much too late because by then much of the damage cannot be undone and your grandchildren will still be paying for it.
6. Just because things didn't work out the way we wanted last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, doesn't mean that they won't this time.
Some say that Einstein defined insanity as repeating the same experiment over and over and expecting different results.
7. If we don't vote, the Tea Party, the Breivik-types, and all the lunatics will, and they'll run the country.
They're a minority, no more than 10% at the very most. Of the approximately 50% of our electorate that votes, fewer than 10% vote for 3rd parties. The Apartheid regime in South Africa tried to seat the winning candidates after a successful election boycott where there was only a 7% turnout, but nobody thought they were legitimate or took them seriously.
8. You don't have the numbers to pull off an election boycott.
There are already more people who don't vote, who either don't think our government is relevant to them, don't think their vote matters, or don't think that anyone on the ballot would represent them or could, since anyone who represented the people would be a small minority with no seniority in government, than there are registered Democrats or Republicans. We have greater numbers than either major party, but they haven't given up so why should we?
9. People who don't vote are apathetic.
When you vote, you are granting your consent of the governed. That's what voting is all about. If you knowingly vote for people you can't hold accountable, it means that you don't really care what they do once they're in office. All you care about is your right to vote, not whether or not you will actually be represented or if the government will secure your rights. Prior to the '08 election, when Obama had already joined McCain in supporting the bailouts that most people opposed, and had expressed his intention to expand the war in Afghanistan, I begged every progressive peace activist I knew not to vote for bailouts and war. They didn't care and they voted for Obama anyway. That's apathy. But it's worse than that. Once I had learned how rigged our elections are, I started asking election integrity activists if they would still vote if the only federally approved voting mechanism was a flush toilet. About half just laughed and said that of course they wouldn't. But the other half got indignant and accused me of trying to take away their precious right to vote. When I finished asking everyone I could, I ran an online poll and got the same results. Half of all voters really are so apathetic that they don't care if their vote is flushed down a toilet, as long as they can vote. They really don't know the difference between a voice in government, and an uncounted or miscounted, unverifiable vote for somebody they can't hold accountable. They never bothered to find out what voting is supposed to be about and yet they think that they're not apathetic because they belong to a political party and vote.
10. If you don't vote, you're helping the other party.
No, *you* are. By voting for an opposition party, a third party, an independent, or even writing in None of the Above, Nobody, Mickey Mouse, your own name, or yo mama, you are granting your consent of the governed to be governed by whoever wins, not by the candidate you voted for. If there is a 50% turnout, the winning candidate can claim that 50% of the electorate had enough faith in the system to consent to their governance.
11. If we don't vote, our votes will never be counted and we'll have no leverage.
True, if we don't vote, our votes will never be counted. But how does hoping that our votes *might* *sometimes* be counted, provide leverage? The election just held in the UK had only a 32% turnout. Where people did vote at all, since UK votes actually have to be counted, they threw out major party candidates and voted for third parties (George Galloway's Respect Party for one, the Pirate Party for another) and in Edinburgh, a guy who ran dressed as a penguin, calling himself Professor Pongoo, got more votes than leading major party candidates. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/04/penguin-more-votes-lib-de... That's leverage, but it is only possible when the votes have to be counted and are verifiable. Those conditions do not apply in the US.
12. The choice is bullets or ballots, so it's a no-brainer.
The Department of Homeland Security has just used the authority that you delegated to the government when you voted, to purchase 450 million rounds of hollow-point ammunition that cannot be used in combat by law and therefore can only be used against US citizens. Your ballots authorized those bullets. There is a third option: not voting, not fighting, but simply withholding our consent. That has the result of delegitimizing a government that doesn't represent us and demonstrating that it does not have the consent of the governed. It is a legal, nonviolent, effective option called noncompliance. Noncompliance can take other forms, such as not paying taxes or creating alternative systems, but these cannot delegitimize a government. Since governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed," withholding our consent is the only way to nonviolently delegitimize a government that fails to represent us.
13. Evil people are spending millions of dollars on voter suppression to deny minorities the vote, and people have fought and died for the right to vote, so the vote must be valuable.
Nobody fought and died for an uncounted vote. While corporations do spend millions of dollars pushing through Voter ID laws and other voter suppression legislation, they spend billions of dollars funding election campaigns to get out the vote for the major parties so that they can claim the consent of the governed for their wholly-owned political puppets. If they didn't want people to vote, those proportions would be reversed and they'd be spending more suppressing the vote than getting out the vote. Voter suppression efforts are aimed at trying to fool the ignorant into thinking that just because somebody is trying to take their vote away from them, their uncounted, unverifiable votes for oligarchs who won't represent them, must be valuable.
(Items #10, #11, and #12 were added on 5/5/2012, #13 on 5/8/2012, and were not sent with the original email)
I waited a couple of days, and when I got no response, wrote to ask why. This was the answer:
"I did not respond because I have nothing to add to your excellent feedback - one way or the other. All valid arguments for your case. But most of us, and I do admit to including myself, do not act on reason - we act on gut. That sort of makes you a lonely person? But courageous nonetheless. Keep speaking out."
In other words, it is saying that I'm right, but since it makes people feel uncomfortable, I still won't be allowed to speak. I have been speaking out for six years, but since most organizations are in some way political party, candidate, or electoral issue related, they will not allow me a forum. In fact, most activist organizations are non-profit corporations themselves, so when they claim to be opposing corporate rule or specific corporate actions, it appears that they have an inherent conflict of interest.
"...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." --Declaration of Independence
Ever get the feeling that your government is screwing you? Legally, of course, that's something that it is not allowed to do unless you give your consent. Without your consent it isn't a consensual relationship and becomes rape. So my question is, did you give your consent or not?
"Of course not," my friends tell me indignantly. "Why would we consent to having our own jobs outsourced, our homes fraudulently foreclosed, our children's futures mortgaged to pay for wars based on lies, big corporations poisoning our food and water, and law enforcement pepper-spraying, beating, and arresting us for peaceful protests?"
"I don't know why you'd consent to things like that," I tell them, "but I'm not so much concerned about your reasoning--I just want to know if you did or did not give your consent."
"No!" they answer angrily. "We did not consent!"
And I hear their echoes everywhere I go.
"We did not consent!" shout the activists and protesters.
"We did not consent!" scream the progressives and regressives.
"We did not consent!" holler the downsized, outsourced, and foreclosed, young and old.
I hear them, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. If they didn't consent, how could things like this have happened? What if they actually had consented but are now ashamed of it and are trying to frame a perfectly innocent government for rape?
Now I'm not talking about implied consent, I'm talking about affirmative consent. Not just the failure to resist or to say no, but the act of saying, "Yes! I want it! Screw me! Take me for everything I've got! I'm yours!"
You see, our government may be aggressive abroad, but here at home it is not a rapist. It always asks you clearly and politely if you want to be screwed. And the process in which it asks is called the electoral system. Every four years our government asks us if we want to be screwed, and every four years we say yes. It even holds off-year elections every two years, and in most places citizens are asked to give their consent, at least to being screwed by state and local government, every year or several times a year.
"But we didn't say yes," people tell me. "We voted no!"
Ah, but we have secret vote counting in this country, so how can you prove that you said no? When votes are counted in secret it is the same as when intercourse takes place behind closed doors. It's your word against theirs and they say that you said yes.
"No," they tell me, "it so happens that the whole thing was caught on videotape and we can prove that we said no." And sure enough, there are CD ROMS with the poll tapes, the register books, and the actual ballots, proving that the citizens did not consent. But alas, the statute of limitations1 has run out and it is much too late to file charges now.
"Why didn't you bring this evidence forward at the time?" I ask.
"Because it was withheld from us," they whine. "The government wouldn't let us have the proof until we'd spent years in court forcing them to release the records."
"You're telling me," I say, "that you had a few drinks with them, went up to their room, they asked you politely if you wanted to get screwed, and you said no, clearly and distinctly, but that they raped you anyway, and that when you tried to get the tapes to prove it, they wouldn't give them to you until it was too late for you to file charges?"
"Uh," they respond, "we thought that as long as there was a verifiable record of what happened, it would be perfectly safe."
If I hadn't seen the evidence with my own eyes, I don't think I'd believe that there had been any rape. People that dumb are so easily seduced that it isn't usually necessary to rape them. But I have seen the evidence and they were indeed raped.2
In 2000 the people clearly said no, but the Supreme Court didn't consider the evidence (the vote count, the illegal voter purges, the voter suppression, and the rigged ballots and voting machines) to be admissible, so an unelected President was installed against the express will of the people. That's rape. But by the time the government released the evidence, it was too late to do anything about it.
In 2004 the people again clearly said no, and this time one of the candidates had promised that he would ensure that they would be given an accurate record of the evidence, but at the last minute, he changed his mind. Once again the evidence was withheld and the unelected President was installed for a second term. And once again by the time the people were able to prove they'd been raped, it was too late to do anything about it and the damage could not be repaired.
In the 2008 election there was no need to meddle with the election. Since the only two candidates with any chance of winning had virtually identical voting records, agendas, and big donors, people could vote however they wanted and the result would be the same. So once again the government asked you politely if you wanted to get screwed, and once again you shmoozed with them, had a few drinks together, and then went into their voting booth and said no. And once again you're claiming that you were raped and that you didn't realize it until it was much too late to do anything about it.
And yet people still berate me when I suggest that they not go to the polls next time.
"If we don't vote, we can't complain," they say.
What good does complaining do?
"If we don't vote, the bad guys will win," they tell me.
Do the good guys win when they do vote?
"It's our civic duty and responsibility to vote," they claim.
In rigged elections with secret vote counts for candidates who can't be held accountable? Give me a break!
"This time it might be different," they say.
Really? Did we get a new Constitution that guaranteed us the right to have our votes counted and counted accurately? Did we abolish the Electoral College? Did we outlaw the optical scanners, electronic voting machines, and central tabulators the way that Germany's Supreme Court did because they conceal electoral processes from the public and are therefore incompatible with democracy? Did we establish publicly funded elections, equal ballot access, and restore the Fairness Doctrine to get corporate money out of politics so that third party candidates have a level playing field? Did we eliminate gerrymandered districts? Did we gain proportional representation? What's different this time?
"People who don't vote are apathetic," they say.
Who's more apathetic, people who don't care who governs them or how they're governed, or people who refuse to delegate their power to officials they can't hold accountable?
Well, the first time somebody tells me that they've been raped, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I will ask how it happened and if it seems to me that they were engaging in risky behavior, I'll suggest that they be more careful in the future.
The second time that somebody tells me they've been raped, and they explain that it happened in the exact same way because they ignored my advice, I begin to feel that they are at least partially to blame themselves.
But when it happens a third time and a fourth time, I have no more sympathy. Unless you enjoyed it the first few times, you wouldn't consent to allow it to happen again and again. So if you are one of the 99% who have been getting screwed, and particularly if you are one of the many who don't like what our government has been doing to us, but you are going to cast a ballot in 2012 granting your personal consent of the governed for them to keep screwing you, please try to understand that when you grant your consent, they have your explicit permission to screw you, so don't complain afterwards that you've been raped. That's not rape, that's consensual political intercourse, so don't come crying to me.
1. The "Statute of limitations" referred to above is the moment that a federal elected official is sworn into office. If it is possible to prove before then that an election was stolen, it is sometimes possible to get a recount or even a new election. Once they are sworn into office, merely proving that the election had been stolen is not sufficient to remove them from office. And since we don't have access to the audit logs of the central tabulators until an election has been certified, while federal officials have been sworn into office before their elections were certified, it is impossible to analyze the logs to prove that an election was stolen in time to prevent an official from being sworn in.
Constitutionally, once an elected federal official has been sworn in, the only way to remove them from office is by getting Congress to impeach them. Since the Democratic majority Congress at the time took impeachment of Bush and Cheney for Constitutional violations and crimes against humanity off the table and refused to even discuss it, the chances of Congress impeaching anyone is negligible. A Republican majority Congress might impeach a Democrat for politically partisan reasons, but a Democratic majority Congress is unlikely to impeach a Republican for any reason whatsoever.
2. The Evidence:
Votescam: The Stealing of America by James M and Kenneth F. Collier (paperback - December 1992)
Witness to a Crime: A Citizens' Audit of an American Election by Richard Hayes Phillips (Hardcover with CD ROM, Canterbury Press, March 2008)
How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (Paperback - Sep 21, 2005)
What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld, and Harvey Wasserman (Paperback - October 20, 2006)
Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election? by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld, and Harvey Wasserman (Paperback - May 30, 2005)
Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?: Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count by Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss (Paperback - June 19, 2006)
HACKED! High Tech Election Theft in America - 11 Experts Expose the Truth by Abbe Waldman Delozier and Vickie Karp (Paperback - Sep 5, 2006)
Irreparable Harm: The U.S. Supreme Court and The Decision That Made George W. Bush President by Renata Adler (Paperback - July 2004)
Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform by Mark Crispin Miller (Paperback - June 2007)
Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008 by Mark Crispin Miller (Paperback - April 1, 2008)
Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast (Paperback - April 2007)
Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition--1742-2004 by Tracy Campbell (Hardcover - September 22, 2005)
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