I've had it with the election, in the same way that everyone else has had it with the election. Except there's one difference. I'm not going to turn around and legitimize the election by following the tired adage that "you've GOTTA vote!"
If ever there was a time when Emma Goldman's assertion that "if voting could change anything it would be illegal" was true, it is now. Recent election cycles have become a make-up slathered sham designed by tacit agreement for the mutual benefit of the parties, the media, and the campaign contributors and against the american people. This election epitomises the trend. The manufactured drama, personality based, and down-to-the-wire nature of all electioneering since media houses and parties struck it rich on the 2000 election has disenfranchised the whole American populace. It has to stop and the best way to stop it is a boycott.
The automatic responses to vote boycotting: ie "if you don't vote then you have no right to complain" or "this is america, we're a democracy, vote damn it!" are stupid populist dogmas with no content that create a closed loop of system-legitimizing circular logic. The strongest indicator that our democracy is broken is low voter turn out. If you doubt this, simply think back to all the election reform discussion that used to happen in the 90's when turn out was less than 50%. So, the result that best represents the issue positions of disatisfied citizens who want our democratic process back more than anything else is a "no" vote. Any other vote legitimizes the process. Voters validate McCain's policies by pretending that Obama represents a real response to them (or vice versa, to keep a thin semblance of non-partisanship).
Speaking of thin semblances of non-partisanship, there's a local project that needs to be addressed here. My Vote Performs is In:Site's newest project of performance art encouraging voting at all of Milwuakee's polling places. I think this is a wonderful project, anything that will get local artists to work together for a political cause on a highly visible city-wide basis makes me very happy. I love In:Site, and Peggi Taylor is awesome. But there are a few things about My Vote Performs that, well-intentioned as it is, i've got a bone to pick with.
First, "non-partisan political art" is an oxymoron. The raison d'etre of political art is to express a political stance, if you take issues, ideologies, values and everything partisan out of politics, how can you not end up expressing only empty platitudes and trite aphorisms? I'm really very curious to see what the various groups Peggi has recruited present. My Vote Performs could have escaped this problem by recruiting a wide variety of different groups and encouraging them to express whatever they'd like, presenting Milwaukeeans with a plurality of distinct and impassioned views. This might get messy, but at least it'd contain truth and genuine feeling. Of course, doing such a thing in close proximity to polling places is illegal, and it would also likely result in nearly unified pro-Obama performances. He's obviously the favorite of most artists. McCain is anti-culture and pro-censorship, so this should be no surprise.
Second, raising the voter turn out by luring people to the polls, rather than by fixing our electoral system enables politicians and officials to skirt real reform. My Vote Performs is the local grass roots equivalent of MTV's Rock the Vote. These vote promotion campaigns support the unquestioned conclusion that low voter turn out results from apathy, not disgust. Thanks to such efforts we've reached a political climate where almost EVERYONE is disillusioned with politics, but we all feel compelled to participate.
5 days ago