The Bikecast Episode #42: 70% of Citizenry Vote for Nobody–Landslide Victory!
Another election and another World Series in the books. The individual american has zero influence on the outcome of either event (unless you are on either roster or are a Diebold software developer). That’s not to say that we can’t derive some Bikecast value from a quick examination of last week’s events. First and foremost, participation was way up this election, meaning that almost 15% of the people in the united states get to say it’s their elected representative keeping the global prison system and war machine up and running. That’s a level of popular election of leadership on par with the mongol kahns and holy roman emperors.
The turnout, of course, doesn’t matter. 100% of people choosing to bomb foreigners doesn’t stop it from being evil, but the premise of our quirky brand of despotism is that the “majority rules.” It’s worth noting, therefore, that the super-majority did not participate. By any standard of democratic’ish governance (and america, if I recall my public schooling correctly, is supposed to be the non plus ultra of awesomeness when it comes to participatory government), the current government is illegitimate.
Even allowing the self-contradictory premise that it’s possible to give one group of people the right of absolute power over another as a just and sustainable means to solve social problems, to be ruled by the preferences of 15% is pretty fucking terrible.
I don’t want to go on too long allowing this premise. To do so is to bait the authoritarian who will solve our problems by adding more violence to the situation: if 29% of people isn’t enough to mandate a group of sociopaths to rule the world, let’s force people to vote! Then we can have 100% participation and everyone will be happy!
Leaving the cage of mainstream premises, something else popped onto my radar the other day. That’s x2012.us. Many anti-authoritarians are ambivalent towards electoral politics because they have “educational value.” That is to say, a Ralph Nader or Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich won’t ever win a presidential election, or even have a measurable effect in the legislature, but their political presence allows for exposure to non-mainstream ideas for people who are unaware of the positions the candidates represent.
x2012.us is calling for a boycott of the elections. I like the idea because it recasts the passive act of not voting as a positive act, boycotting. There’s no shortage of reasons to boycott the election, illegal wars, millions of political prisoners, wide scale disenfranchisement, boundless voting “irregularities” (a computerized voting system with proprietary software is insane enough to blow all 3rd world voting shenanigans away), state collusion with all manner of corporate theft and malfeasance, torture, draconian immigration policies, etc.
It would be (dreaming here, I know) a nice change of pace if the voter felt a little guilty about their compulsion to engage in the charade of representative government instead of trying to guilt the mathematically and practically (and ethically) minded among us into providing cover for the crimes of the ruling cadre.