On the Non-Existence of the Lesser Evil

The winds of the blogodrome are converging, as they must in the year-and-a-half before a presidential election, on the question of why anyone should bother voting at all. For the next 15 months, expect the party hacks to be shrieking nonsensically about how you must vote and for one of the two major parties (depending on the hack).

The majority of people will ignore them because 1. it’s illegal for them to vote or 2. they understand that their vote doesn’t matter.

Glenn Greenwald has noticed that presidential candidates typically end up substantially identical.

The reality is that both parties’ voters, early on in the process, like to flirt with candidates who present themselves as ideologues, but ultimately choose establishment-approved, establishment-serving functionaries . . . The two-party system and these presidential campaigns are virtually guaranteed — by design — to produce palatable faces who perpetuate the status quo, placate the citizenry, and dutifully serve the nation’s most powerful factions.

He’s in some kind of back-and-forth with a party hack who is upset that Glenn won’t admit that Obama is, at least, much better than whatever the republican alternative was/will be. For the details, I commend you to the much more erudite and pants-pissingly hilarious IOZ.

This excellent article tracks the essential continuity of policy and details a number of the personnel choices that have stripped out the moderate elements of the current regime and replaced/supplemented them with legacy right-wing advisers and staff.

The view, in spite of the evidence, that one’s party’s candidate is at least better than the opposition party’s candidate is entirely illusory. As a non-partisan (in the sense that I was first a green, then apolitical, and now anti-political), I have watched the actions of government without elation or disappointment based on my investment in the parties. The first president of my majority, Bill Clinton, stripped down social programs, starved 500,000 Iraqi children–with his secretary of state chiming in that is was worth itwantonly bombed civilian populations in the Balkans, and deregulated global capital.

These were the actions required by the system that created and promoted Bill Clinton. If Bob Dole had been president, the prerogatives would have been the same. Anything these men couldn’t do that needed doing would be done over their objection or by their successor. It’s the bias built into ego-identification with a political party that leads to the belief that Clinton was a peace loving socialist and Bob Dole would have been a financially frugal hawk.

The George W. Bush regime were a pack of especially detestable war criminals. Why though, does anyone imagine that President Al Gore would have been able to do anything differently than Bush? We see that the Bush policies are favored by existing concentrations of capital–they been continued and expanded by a democrat’s administration. How would Al Gore have denied global capital their garrisons in the Middle East; their contracts for arms, logistics, security and infrastructure; and their ability to create sink-holes for wealth that the United States government have been trying to fill for 10 years?

I posit it could well have been far worse, in fact, had Al Gore been president on 9/11. At least there were somevoices of dissent when already achitected global war and domestic surveillance was being executed. Who would have been marching in opposition to Al Gore’s “defense” of the United States? Judging by the anti-war movement under Obama, very few. And when those few were disappeared, who would track them down? Would the ACLU even have received enough funding to continue its existence?

Only Nixon could go to China, as they say. Only Nixon could start the EPA, OSHA, the Clean Air Act, the Consumer Products Safety Board. It takes Clinton and now Obama to impose “austerity measures” and dismantle the social safety net. Republicans grow government and raise taxes, Democrats start wars and build prisons.

This is a caricature of the parties, of course. There are numerous exceptions, which is ultimately the point. The actions taken by these two parties only appear different when viewed through the American Political Narrative. When viewed as though a single party with a single purpose had a monopoly of power, one four year span is indistinguishable from another.

I know I’m way past being a broken record this point: the narrative of political back and forth in this country is purposeful. It’s supposed to be impossible to argue that a democrat is more of a warmonger than a republican, or that a republican is less tough on crime than a democrat. There are always alot of ins, outs, and what-have-yous that allow wonkish weaseling to bullshit its way around the obvious contradictions in the two-party narrative.

We have been trained from early childhood to believe that the choices we make in the voting booth drive the direction of our society. We interpret events, with the assistance of everyone around us and the mainstream media, to assign substantive political differences to individual politicians that simply do not exist. The voters have zero influence or control over the course of events via their engagement with the political system. They are either aligned with the preexisting desires of capital, in which case, they will see “their side” winning; or they are opposed, and will see their policy desires warped and twisted if not ignored outright.

    • Devin Lenda
    • September 5th, 2011

    I remember going to the arcade as a boy and, lacking the funds to play, I’d work the controls as the computer ran through its scenes, imagining I was in control. If you push up, every once in a while the character goes up and you’ve confirmed that you’re at least having some effect, so you have a reason to keep playing. Eventually, I understood my role relative to the machine, which is why I don’t vote.

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