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Dept. of Will You Listen to Yourself?

Thoughts Upon Seeing a Friend's Twitter Rant

Someone I'm very fond of has just posted thoughts about how they are not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. This person was a dedicated Bernie fan, and apparently is, much to my sad realization, one of those fans who will not vote for Hillary, despite Bernie's official endorsement.  

I chose not to engage on Twitter, not least because I'm already pushing the envelope of my semi-business Twitter account with the types of retweets and favorites I make public. A conversation about this would cross the line even further than I've already pushed it. 

So I'm bringing my thoughts here, via copying, pasting, and slightly amending a piece of commentary I posted before the last American presidential election.
I don't think the person in question pays much attention to LJ/DW these days, but I need to say what I have to say somewhere. 

**** **** ****

Voting matters. It always matters. 

Make a choice, even if it is the lesser of two evils. Often "the lesser of two evils" turns out to be one of two things - "better than one expected," or "helping keep the greater of two evils out." In either case, your vote is important.

Voting matters. It always matters.

A political meme that still inexplicably enjoys some coin puts forth the idea that a) one's vote doesn't count and b) one's vote is important enough to be withheld from the ballot box as a form of protest.

The illogic inherent between the front and back end of that message is staggering.

If you want to sound like some first year Business Communications major/French Lit minor trying to impress a potential roll in the hay with your world-weary political sophistication, go ahead and believe it. (If you are a Business Comm/French Lit student and understand the stupidity of that little conceit, my apologies.) If, on the other hand, you're an adult ....

You think that by withholding your vote, you'll make "them" listen? 

You fool. 

The only person who pays attention to an "unvote" is the campaign strategist for the winning candidate; she's the one who's glad her opponent's candidate was the beneficiary of every single unvote not in the ballot box.

And this year, who is the person happiest for the unvotes for Hillary? It's not Bernie. It's the fascist who would wreck this country.

You call yourself a progressive, but you turn on the progressive you backed when he makes the pragmatic decision that was, surely, far harder for him to make than for you to contemplate? Then you weren't really that much of a supporter, were you? 

Also, no, withholding your vote from the Democratic candidate won't make the Democratic apparatchiks take you or your views seriously. They may laugh as loudly as the clown-car fascist. 

If I hear one more iteration of "Voting for the lesser of two evils is voting for evil," I swear I will scream. Voting for the lesser of two evils is voting for the lesser of two evils - because the greater evil is greater, and will scour your soul far more badly than the lesser will.

If you look hard enough at any candidate, no matter how good, you're apt to find something at which you can point and say "EVIL!" So your argument is, frankly, an invalid and slightly sophomoric one. Pragmatism; it's a thing, and it is not, merely by definition, evil. Nor is idealism, merely by definition, good.

 Voting matters. It always matters.

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/416104.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
a_phoenixdragon
Jul. 13th, 2016 04:35 am (UTC)
Thisthisthis...doubly pisses me off because a lot of people died for the right to vote. you may be upset that Bernie didn't make it. I loved Bernie myself. But I know what I won't get what he was pushing for...not right away. But those ideals are on the table. To belittle all that he championed for by saying it doesn't matter now that he is not in the running...the sense that does NOT make!! The table he laid out would get cleared, chopped into kindling and used to warm the backsides of billionaires if we let Trump take over. I'm not thrilled with Hillary. But she is definitely 'lesser of two evils' and a little less evil (though more corporatist than I would like), than three quarters of teh 'normal' and 'centerist' Republicans out there. To not vote is not only irresponsible, it is like the stupid tantrum of a spoiled child. Unlike the spoiled child, we don't risk ONLY getting a spanking and being sent to bed without dinner. We will get a full on whipping, get driven like slaves with NO bedtime and go without the next several years worth of dinners.

Vote Hillary if you want a more stable country. Bernie will. Grow up and be a damned adult. Or ask Britain what they thought of their 'stay at home or throw a voting tantrum' and how well it worked out for THEM.

UGH.

*HUGS*

Edited at 2016-07-13 04:48 am (UTC)
kaffyr
Jul. 25th, 2016 03:46 am (UTC)
My dear, I forgot that I hadn't responded to you; you know that you and I agree about this so very much. I loved your comment about the table Bernie laid being chopped to kindling to warm the asses of the GOP bastards.

Thanks for saying it beautifully.
elisi
Jul. 13th, 2016 06:19 am (UTC)
I would be MORE than happy to set up a trolling Twitter account. Saying something like...

'Donald Drumpf thanks you for your support! Let's build that wall, deport those muslims and make sure women know their place!'



ETA: 'Oh, and the Republican Party sends their regards. They are thrilled that 25 years worth of Hillary smears have become so ingrained that by now people don't even question them. Keep up the good work! We on our part will continue to do our best to fight against health care coverage, LGBT rights and black people. Here, have a gun!'

ETA2: Also, these posts:

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/06/dear-folks-who-supported-sanders-as-much-as-i-did-its-called-a-mirror-look-in-it

http://mirrorleaf.tumblr.com/post/145802244427/a-long-deep-breath-and-a-message-of-sanity-to

Edited at 2016-07-13 07:36 am (UTC)
wendymr
Jul. 13th, 2016 12:07 pm (UTC)
*applauds*
elisi
Jul. 13th, 2016 12:29 pm (UTC)
*curtsies*

Shorter version would be: 'Thus speaks privilege. (From your entitled rant I deduct that you are white, straight, and not poor.)'

Goodness knows that the Tories aren't a barrel of laughs, but looking at what the GOP are proposing... /o\
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
Augh; I agree so hard. I haven't dared watch either day of the GOP convention now underway (yes, it's taken me far too long to respond) because I'm afraid I might a) blow a gasket, b) go into hysterics, c) do both, and collapse in tears.
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:20 am (UTC)
It's taken so long for me to get back to everyone; my apologies! I wanted to tell you that the "Women! Know Your Limits!" was hilarious. Enraging, because we know that too many people still think this way, but hilarious. (I'm awful; I still haven't gotten around to reading the posts behind your other two links, but I will, I promise!)
wendymr
Jul. 13th, 2016 12:16 pm (UTC)
Hear hear.

Political purism does not win elections. Political purism does not bring about change, whether incremental or revolutionary. It only ends up as a spoiled-brat bumper sticker reading Don't blame me - I supported Bernie.

Quite apart from the fact that (a) Bernie endorsed Hillary and (b) a significant amount of his platform has been adopted by her campaign, if you don't vote, you don't get a say in the outcome. But if you don't vote, you are responsible for the outcome, if your vote could have prevented a reactionary, racist, misogynist, hate-filled regressive being elected.

All progressive change was won through some degree of compromise. All revolutionaries put away their weapons in the end and negotiated a settlement - which involved compromise. Was Mandela a purist? Was Walesa? Is Bernie?

I seriously hope that Bernie himself will be making these kind of points in his stump speeches for Hillary, especially on university campuses. It has never been more important to show up and vote, even if it is for the 'lesser of two evils'.

(I couldn't stand Blair's Labour Party in the UK, but I sure as hell was not going to stay at home and make it easier for the Tories to get in again).
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
Political purism does not win elections. Political purism does not bring about change, whether incremental or revolutionary. It only ends up as a spoiled-brat bumper sticker reading Don't blame me - I supported Bernie.

Absolutely. My friend's petulant response truly disappointed me; because the person is not normally illogical. I loved, and still love Bernie; I still think he'd make a better Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton, with whom I have serious problems. But as of now, I support her wholeheartedly. And, if people who vote for her are, like me, not pleased with her policies, then we have the responsibility of pushing her hard during her tenure, to do things right, and to be a better President than she might be without our pushing.
eve11
Jul. 13th, 2016 12:48 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I mean, if I were a moderate Republican (I think those still might exist somewhere, possibly), I don't think I'd be casting my vote behind Trump even if my candidate endorsed him. What do endorsements really mean? I mean some of them are not very resounding. And Bernie's in between a rock and a hard place because he definitely doesn't want Trump to win and he's probably being pressured like hell to unite the Democratic party. So, so what if he endorses Hillary? It doesn't mean he endorses her policies or anything like that, it just means he's anti-Trump. Half the country right now is terrified of Trump winning. Voting any way because you're terrified is indicative of failures already, and not very democratic.

If your vote really counts, you should vote for the person that you want to represent the country. Maybe Bernie has more in common with a Green party candidate or something. Don't not vote, but when it comes down to the douche or the turd sandwich because of an ingrained two-party system, you can see why people would be disenfranchised.

ETA: I guess what I'm saying is, I think approaching it from the "She's the only one to stop Trump" angle is going to be less productive than highlighting where she and Bernie have similar policies and trying to educate the person. Explain why Hillary should be their candidate in positive, not in "If we don't unite Trump wins and everyone suffers." Even if it's true. And of course not over Twitter, or even the Internet; it is too easy for people to not listen to words on a page, much harder when you're speaking face to face.

Edited at 2016-07-13 06:35 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Jul. 25th, 2016 03:23 am (UTC)
Voting any way because you're terrified is indicative of failures already, and not very democratic.

I'm not sure that's at all the case. Certainly voting any way solely because you dislike the alternative has a long, long history in democratic societies, whether parliamentary or American-style.

In fact, there is no set of rules that states that one can only vote because of this or that, or that one cannot, or should not, vote against something or someone. I would argue that that is as much part of democracy as voting for something or someone.

I think considering voting in that manner to be reflective of some sort of failure simply generates more questions; whose failures are we talking about? Are we talking about a failure of a given party or a given candidate? Are we talking about a failure of the entire infrastructure of American democracy? I think that choosing not to vote would be a failure.

In fact, I think voting for the lesser of two evils is a worthwhile and honorable thing, not something to be dismissed with contempt, as too many purists would do.

If your vote really counts, you should vote for the person that you want to represent the country.

I think this sets up a false "if-then" argument.

Your vote counts. It counts in an imperfect world - in fact, it counts far more in an imperfect world than it might count in whatever any of us might agree could be a perfect world. It is precisely because we are living in an imperfect world, where we can't make those easy decisions - where we have to make the hard decisions - that your vote counts.

Your ETA makes some good tactical arguments in terms of convincing people. But I'm afraid that people who don't respond to the very logical "If we don't unite, Trump wins and everyone suffers" have already talked themselves into deciding that their chosen candidate and the other candidate have absolutely nothing in common, and won't respond to the logic of finding the positive similarities.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to use that tack; it just means it might be a hell of a lot harder than it should be.



Edited at 2016-07-25 03:25 am (UTC)
liadtbunny
Jul. 13th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC)
Politicians care more about targeting the groups who do vote, than those that don't, so votes do matter.

Also I don't have much sympathy who those who moan loudly about who got in when they didn't vote.
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:51 am (UTC)
Indeed. If you don't vote, please don't talk to me about how the people who voted were wrong to do so, which is what too much of the complaining hints at.
eaweek
Jul. 13th, 2016 03:53 pm (UTC)
Fantastic and eloquent as always, and I'm going to link to this post at my own LJ, just to boost the signal a bit more (though my flist is tiny and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir anyway).
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:53 am (UTC)
Thank you!
amberfocus
Jul. 13th, 2016 08:34 pm (UTC)
I don't get why people think the choice is Clinton or Trump or no one. There are other parties. If people can't stomach voting for either of those two evils, vote for one of the other parties who has a candidate that you don't think is evil. That's what I do. I get railed at by the "you're throwing your vote away" crowd, but I don't feel sick about who I'm voting for like they do and maybe one day enough people will do it so it will make a difference. I'm hoping this will actually be the year just because it is so bad, but I'm not holding my breath.
kaffyr
Jul. 25th, 2016 03:35 am (UTC)
I think you and I agree on the importance of voting, but find ourselves on the opposite sides of the discussion when it comes to voting for third party candidates.

It seems to me that this country has never been able to successfully maintain more than two parties at a time, with the exception of personality-driven efforts like Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose party, or Ross Perot's effort. That failure may be a result of an amalgam of things; the way your government was set up, the Electoral College, cultural suspicion of what people might view as the danger of multi-party systems that become locked into stasis by virtue of having too many parties - I'm not sure.

No matter what may have caused the situation, the political landscape will not, I'm afraid, be changed anytime soon - and that's not because not enough people vote for third parties. (In fact, I am more than half-convinced that the genius of American democracy is due in large part to the amount of flexibility - until now - within the tent of each party, allowing for people to see parts of their beliefs, at least, within the platforms of one or the other party. It's not as good a system as a multi-party system but, again, your system isn't built for multi-party set ups in the way that, say, parliamentary systems are.)

In the end, although we do differ on whether it's efficient or useful to vote outside the American two-party axis, we are united in how important it is to vote. The people who take their ball and go home to sulk are the ones I suspect both of us side-eye.
nucleosides
Jul. 15th, 2016 02:09 am (UTC)

As much as I'm a supporter of Bernie's, not voting for Hilary if she is indeed the Democratic candidate for presidency is just like actually voting for Trump.

kaffyr
Jul. 23rd, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC)
You speak truth. It's a hard truth, especially for folks, like you and me, who think that Bernie is, and would be, the better candidate - but now, especially after listening to some of Trump's acceptance speech, I am more convinced than ever that allowing him into the White House would mark the beginning of the end of the republic as we know it.
apostle_of_eris
Jul. 15th, 2016 12:00 pm (UTC)
My personal litmus test for Give Me Bernie or Give Me Death: If it doesn't give you pause that you sound like one of Karl Rove's sock puppets, you have nothing to say to me.
kaffyr
Jul. 20th, 2016 12:46 am (UTC)
::nods in agreement::
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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