“The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek”
-Martin Luther King
Greetings, sisters, brothers, & others —
Today, I’m feeling just foolish enough to write an article addressing one of the most contentious & divisive questions of our day — should a person vote for the so-called “lesser evil” or should they not? I felt the need to address this after seeing Noam Chomsky’s 8-point justification of voting for the lesser evil. I never imagined until this morning that I’d be writing a counter-argument to Chomsky (as he is among my intellectual heroes) but I do disagree with him on this issue and — since it appears that none exist — I feel the need to offer a rebuttal.
To be clear, I do not wish to tell anyone how to vote. That is not the intent of this article — the intent of this article is to articulate the reasoning of a decision not to vote for the lesser evil. This is a decision which I believe many will make in November. It is also my hope that this article may help to foster understanding & respect between people making decisions that may be different from their friends, families, & communities.
Before I begin, I’d like to offer this link to Noam Chomsky’s 8-point argument in favor of voting for the lesser evil because it is the strongest case for “lesser-evil voting” that I know of. In this article, however, I shall be making the case that Chomsky has overlooked some of our fundamental objectives.
What do we want to accomplish by voting?
While reading over the endless & mostly un-productive debates between the Sanders’ supporters who will & won’t vote for Clinton, I noticed that there tends to be something lacking in the discussion which makes it very difficult to move forward — what’s missing is a clear statement of the desired outcome of voting & how voting supports our larger goals.
I hope I am not being too bold but I’d say that one of the fundamental demands of Sanders’ supporters is for leaders who are responsive — not to the 1% — but to the public. In other words, we’d like honest leaders, please! Though Berners tend to be united by a passion for economic, social, environmental, & racial justice, most strongly believe that the obstacle to achieving these goals is the simple fact that our politicians are literally paid not to do any of those things. That’s what we’ve referred to as “politics-as-usual” & that’s why a “political revolution” is called for. I’d say that the larger goal of the movement is to reject the bought-&-paid-for politicians & to install honest ones, instead.
Goal: To oust the political-elite who are beholden to corporate interests so that the state will be capable of responding meaningfully to the people’s issues, such as poverty, criminal justice reform, health-care, education, & income-inequality.
Can voting support our goal?
So long as meaningful alternatives to the two state-backed parties are struggling even to have their names on the ballot, the question remains whether voting can be of any use at all. If the purpose of voting is to win, then we appear to have only two choices — the candidate who meets behind closed doors with big business & big business itself. Both options seem counter-productive to us & yet to abstain doesn’t really help the situation, either — so, to put it lightly, we’re in a bit of a pickle.
Obviously, Drumpf will not do much good for anyone (except, perhaps, his wealthy chums) and, as a representative of the 1% himself, a GOP-vote seems to be unhelpful in our quest to overthrow the plutocrats.¹ But would Clinton really bring us nearer to our goal than Drumpf — or is it possible that a blue vote could be equally problematic?
It is a fact that Clinton has been hobnobbing with Drumpf & his business partners at ritzy parties for the last twenty years and it is also a fact that she arrogantly continues not to disclose the transcripts of her well-paid “speeches” to financial institutions like Goldman-Sachs & Deutsche Bank AG (which she made $21m from, between 2013-15!), even after saying she would “look into it.” Both Drumpf & Clinton are card-carrying members of the 1% — how can anyone believe that Clinton will regulate the companies which continue to make her rich & who’ve funded her presidential bid from the start?
How could those whose goal is “to oust the political-elite who are beholden to corporate interests” vote for a candidate who, as Secretary of State, hired Robert Hormats, former vice-chair of Goldman-Sachs to serve as Under Secretary of State? In precisely what way will electing Clinton over Drumpf further our objective of ridding our government of the plutocrats?
How We Will Lose by Voting Blue
If the vast majority of us cast our votes for Clinton in November, we will essentially be giving our consent to having our elections openly rigged. We will be saying, “yes, we will begrudgingly support whatever candidate you pick for us.” We will not elect the obvious wolf but we will knowingly elect a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing.
Of the many important things the 2016 democratic primaries have taught us, I’d argue that the most crucial lesson should be this — that our corrupted leaders, funded by the 1% & in collusion with the media, have designed the game so that they always win. Let me repeat that — we cannot win this game. In this game, there can only be one winner — & it isn’t us. What they’re saying to us is that we can either win by aligning ourselves with evil or lose by refusing. The rules don’t allow for any changes to themselves & they don’t allow for any other method of winning.
So what should we do, now…?
We Should Break the Rules
By choosing to align with the “lesser evil,” we are accepting their rules and (at least, the last time I checked) that’s not really how revolutions work. The issue is not that we want more humane corporate-overlords or that we’d like to enjoy a more comfortable stay at the Oligarchy Motel — the issue, as I understand it, is that we fundamentally reject the idea that we should be ruled by wealthy elites who routinely override the people’s desire for environmental, economic, racial, & social justice. The “game” is not going to stop just because we whine about it — we must disrupt their game by actively breaking the rules.
There is a rule that you must vote for the less evil of two openly evil candidates — break that rule! Vote for the party whose candidate gives voice to your conscience — if millions of us do this, it will send an undeniable message that we are done playing.
There is a rule that change only happens during elections — break that rule! Get involved with organizations that are using direct action to change our world, like Democracy Spring. Take to the streets & protest the $#!% out of these elections! Disrupt both Drumpf’s & Killary’s campaign events with non-violent & humorous direct-action!
How We Will Win
With respect, I believe that Mr. Chomsky is wrong about how our movement will best move forward to victory — it would be a mistake for us to consent to the lesser evil, believing that the same evil which rigged the contest in broad daylight will somehow pave the way for us to succeed in future elections. The DNC believes that it can hold the country hostage with the threat of a Drumpf presidency in order to install its own plutocratic regime — to vote blue would not only positively reinforce these tactics, but it would bolster the influence of the DNC’s neoliberal ideology, fanning the flames of environmental destruction & economic exploitation.
Voting is not only, as Chomsky asserts in his paper, a mechanical action with discreet consequences — it is a statement about our intentions for the future. The English verb, “to vote,” actually derives from the Latin “votum,” which means both “promise” & “desire,” — as well as “prayer.” With our votes, we should make our collective desire for a better world known and, with our votes, we should make a promise to our rulers & to each other to work for a better world. Let our votes be a prayer for something other than evil.
Yes, voting is supposed to have an effect on election results — but it is also a message. In 2016, a blue vote sends the message that you accept their terms & intend to continue working toward your goals in the prison of party politics, which is precisely what Clinton’s donors are hoping to hear.
I hope we disappoint them…
To Sum It All Up
If we want to create an honest society, we will have to do so with honest methods — and that starts with being honest about what it is that we want, even if we don’t get it immediately. Mahatma Gandhi said,
“The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree — and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree… We reap exactly what we sow.”
I know that there are some who will say that ideas like that are just “metaphysical fluff” and that they don’t have any place in political science or revolutionary strategy — I disagree. It’s empirical — look at what Gandhi actually did. However you want to explain it, Gandhi had a profound & observably positive effect on the society around him, just as Martin Luther King would, later — and both of them asserted that, to successfully transform society, the means & methods we use must be “as pure as the ends we seek.”
There are those that will tear apart what I’ve said and argue that what I’m encouraging is overly-idealistic & impractical — they’re probably right. Just keep in mind that they would’ve said the same thing about a lot of activists and remember that the reality of the way things work is bigger than our ideas about it. In the end, all of you will make your own decisions, anyway. But I think we have a head and a heart, for a reason — be sure you make use of them both.
John Laurits #NotMeUs
Other Recent Articles by John Laurits
From the Heart of America: #NeverGiveUp (8/8) New!
#OurRevolutionContinues: The Path Forward (8/3) New!
The DNC Protests, Part One: Confusion or Sabotage? (7/30) New!
The “Democratic” National Convention (7/27)
We Are Not Defeated (7/26)
Democracy Spring Demonstration, July 25th
The Democratic Convention: #MarchForBernie (7/24)
The Game is Up — #DemExit & the #DNCLeaks (7/24)
About Prayers & Violence (7/17)
For a more complete list of John’s articles (& other cool stuff),
******Click HERE to visit “The News-Real”******
¹Plutocrat, noun, a person who rules with their wealth.
*How about a round of applause for Jacob Yona, the mastermind behind the images for these articles — you can check out the rest of his art at www.jacobyona.com!
**Also, you can follow John on Twitter @JohnLaurits & (if ye feel so inclined) you may support him by buying him a coffee HERE or you can…