Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Will Be Assimilated

I confess! I'm more brainwashed than I like to admit.

Voting today went smoothly enough, but then I went in early. Instead of voting at the courthouse a few blocks from my apartment, I now have to vote in one of the dorms a mile away. What they're going to do for parking as things get busier, I can't imagine. (I rode my bicycle.) But the line was still fairly short when I got there, and I was done and out in fifteen or twenty minutes.

I liked John Caruso's post yesterday on the "protest vote" meme:
I've always wondered: just how does this "protest voting" work? When I get to the polling place should I say, "Just so you'll know, I'll only be casting a protest vote today, not a real one" and they'll respond with "Oh! Ok. Well, here's your protest ballot. You can take it to a booth and, oh, I don't know, fill it out or do origami with it or whatever gives you a thrill, and then when you're done we'll throw it in that pit over there, urinate and defecate on it, and set it on fire. If you have any questions, go to hell and see if anyone there cares. Oh, and please return the crayon when you're done. Thanks for protest voting!"

(Why, yes, this is a pet peeve of mine. How could you tell?)

I don't see the need to affix belittling adjectives to people's choices. I guess I could call the votes of those who stick to the Republicans and Democrats "blinkered votes" or "limited votes" or "corporate-approved votes", but I don't. And I suppose I could call the votes of people who stay faithful to their principles and vote for the candidate they truly prefer "free-thinking votes" or "honest votes" or "courageous votes", but I usually prefer not to say that out loud.

I think there's something to be said, if someone talks derisively to you about "protest voting," for calling their vote "blinkered" or "corporate-approved." And I'd go further and point out that both presidential candidates this year are promising to bring "change" to Washington and to America, so couldn't it be called a "protest" vote even if you vote for McBama or O'Cain?

But enough sniping. At last this interminable campaign is over, or nearly so. It'll all be over once the voting machines have been hacked. And I did not slight the other races on the ballot. There were Congressional, state, and local candidates to winnow. When it came time to decide what to do with the Presidential button, though, I hesitated. Someone somewhere (on a blog yesterday, but I don't have time to track the link now) had said he would write in Eugene Victor Debs for President, an interesting protest vote if there ever was one, for all sorts of reasons, including Debs's Hoosier origins. My finger hesitated over the write-in button, but in the end I decided to waste my vote.

I voted for a candidate who wants to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which means many more innocent people are going to die; wants to increase the size of the army; wants to escalate the conflict in Afghanistan; would like to attack Iran and Pakistan and who knows where else; promises to continue the embargo against Cuba and badmouths popular democratic movements elsewhere in Latin America;has pledged continuing support for Israel's brutal policies; agrees that Social Security is in crisis and probably will try to privatize it if elected; has no solution to America’s healthcare problems except more corporate subsidies; talks about extending offshore drilling and nuclear power; voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act and for telecom immunity under FISA; voted for the Bush-Paulson giveaway, and still professes his faith in “free markets” and “free trade.”

Why? Partly because I think it would be interesting if Indiana's electoral votes were go to a Democrat for the first time in decades; partly because it will be fun to attack Obama as he shows his true right-wing colors while being able to say that I voted for him rather than McCain; partly because force of habit made it too hard for me to go outside the two-party prison. (I did vote for Nader in 2000, though.) A wasted vote, in short. A vote against O'Cain, not for McBama. An acknowledgment that, contrary to the propaganda I've been hearing about how the vote is the power Americans were given to direct their government, real change in this country has taken place not only outside the ballot box but outside the official political machinery: the Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, the gay movement, the antiwar movements. Now I have to find out what else to do.