Vote for Against!

Nails Nathan on votin’ USA

It was written of the comedian W.C. Fields that at a certain point in his life he no longer voted for anyone but chose to vote against.  He did not trust politicians, as many of us don’t, but he did at least weigh the pros and cons and vote against the one he thought was the bigger crook.  If that is what it takes, fair enough.  Take part in the energy.  This demands that a person actually study the options and make an educated choice instead of just throwing up one’s hands.

In 2016, America showed the whole world what privilege produces: the crazy and the lazy.  The people who voted for Donald Trump were the crazy ones, sure, but they only did what one expects them to do — vote for the person who would speak for their one key issue of interest, whether it was guns, anti-choice, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, or even just anti-brown people.  The right wingers only had to choose ONE issue and vote for Trump.  Easy to understand.

But the gut-wrenching responsibility came from left and the liberals.  A disturbing tide of apathy was excused by a supposed purity of idealism.  Each and every person seemed to think his or her viewpoint was unique and rare.  It was like a hipster nursing that craft beer at the bar, hoping someone will ask what he or she is drinking.  Then there will be a lecture about its qualities that are so much better and rarer than the common herd’s consumption.  But this political rejection of the vote by the left-leaning populace is not in the least bit unique.  Take a good look around the bar, and one will find a large percentage of the punters guzzling the same brew of precious craft idealism.   And it belches the same tired complaints.  “I don’t think I should have to choose the lesser of two evils.”  “The problem is that it is a two party system.”  “The electoral college is a joke, so why bother?  It’s not a true democracy.”  Or, it might just be that the Democratic candidate did something — “I heard” — that was questionable and didn’t turn out to be the embodiment of every Che Guevara t-shirt.  See, the Right Wing votes for only ONE issue, regardless of any egregious flaws in the candidate.  The Left demands only ONE issue to disagree with and will start spouting all the reasons why it is pointless to participate.

That is not idealism; that is just laziness.

And it is happening again.  In 2016, so many people were sure there was NO way that Trump could win.  Polls had been done showing Clinton leads.  Trump did badly in the debates, and the comedy Saturday Night Live was having a field day with how badly Trump handled himself.  Liberals were saying, “She’s obviously gonna win” with a huff of resignation instead of relief.  Yet it didn’t end up that way, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone, writers for South Park, had to scramble to re-write their cynical satire for the 2nd time for a president they were sure was not going to win (both the 1st Bush election and Trump’s election).  Now the same polls are showing Trump at a low, but the apathetic complaints about the vote have returned like persistent herpes.  The most recent one was on Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

Minhaj usually brings to light important issues of imbalance in society, but his recent show about the election trotted out the old privileged complaints: a horrific Trump and a milktoast like Biden.  Biden, in personality, is not especially inspiring.  That does not mean that he is unworthy.  The electoral process in America IS flawed and geared in a way that is not a true democracy.  Change is long overdue, and the ideas on the show like ranked voting might be ok if one can imagine a whole country being sold on the math of it.  Why not?  They do it in Australia.  The real problem is that the whole show presents the situation in a way that doesn’t reflect this election or the last election accurately: a political human candidate versus a lying, cheating, racist, sexist, egomaniac with no compassion.  Being a political candidate means standing before everyone and being judged for every single flaw in his in her past that can be found, and deciding hopefully that the person is worthy of leading the country better than the other(s).  It doesn’t mean one tosses the candidate in the bin for not being perfect.  However, Minhaj’s portrayal of Biden was a bit buffoonish, and that is all — easy to dismiss.

Minhaj predictably goes on to decry the two party system.  Again, this is a luxury complaint.  We already have four years of devastating bigotry, the ruin of international relations, and let us not forget the pandemic ushered in by disbanding the Obama era National Security Pandemic Response Team and its plan.  We already know this man is dangerous to humanity, and yet we are whining about wanting more parties to choose from.  For the sake of argument however, let us assume that a true multi-party system were in place in the next election.  Like trying to find a good New Years party, liberals will choose according to their disagreements with the atmosphere, wandering all night from apartment to apartment and probably finding something wrong in each of them, and the conservative will go to the huge fascist beer-bash in the ballroom getting as drunk as possible on bigotry, hatred of the poor, hatred of the left, hatred of Muslims, hatred of the right to choose, love of guns, etc.  Now imagine the vote is drawn from those parties.  This admittedly is quite a generalization, and perhaps unfair, but we are currently sitting in an acid bath and complaining about a lack of bubbles.

In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel We, Orwell’s inspiration for 1984, the masses are gathered on the Day of Unanimity to cast their vote for The Benefactor’s re-election.  The event is supposed to merely be ceremonial, yet on the day a thousand hands are raised rejecting re-election.  They vote against.  The novel explores the concept of entropy and energy.  Those who remain committed to the status quo are the measure of entropy while those who vote against represent energy.  Those who echo Minhaj’s (and so many others’) viewpoint will suggest that the energy comes from their rejection of the system, yet it stems from a lack of action, an inertia which in fact ensures the status quo we have now.  A horrible status quo.  Change comes from activity, from hard work, not from merely complaining and sitting down on a fluffy chaise lounge where our principles keep us company.  In 2016, the expanse of entropy was like a fungus in a condemned home, and we were given a blight on any political accountability in America.

Some blamed the entropy on Russia’s interference, which is a rather sad excuse.  People took to the streets in protest, but remember despite all the supposed energy of protests and marches during Nixon’s presidency and more recently George W. Bush’s presidency, both of them were re-elected.  Nixon wasn’t taken down by the hippies; he was taken down by journalists and a political accountability to the American public that we have all but lost.  Tump has already done so much worse than Nixon.  Nixon used the intelligence community to spy on and undermine his political rivals while Trump attempted to coerce a foreign government to gain leverage over his political rival.  That is like moving from the FBI to the CIA.  And yet, this did not even put a dent in his power because these same liberals who didn’t go to the poll to vote for the president also failed to vote for all of their local leaders: senators, representatives, and even the lowly judge who will rule on the evictions and round ups of immigrants in their cities.  Now he touts delaying a national election.  And yet the fear of this demagogue hasn’t seemed to touch the apathy of the pure in spirit.   They still grumble about not getting the choice they want more than removing a Twitter tyrant.

The other common refrain is along the lines of those who live in a state like New York or California.  “Well, I live in a Blue State, so it will go to the democrat anyway.  I don’t need to vote.”  This is basically true due to the electoral college system.  A person can sit it out and watch the Democrat take the state.  Unfortunately, there is also a different kind of negative energy at work that extends beyond the state border.  In Charles Pearce’s book Idiot America, written in 2009, he examines the rise of the power of crank culture as mainstream through the internet.  Whether it is Fox news or a fraudulent meme, his premise continues to prove itself.  People once marginalized have a grip on society now simply via repetition in the modern mass media.  All one needs to have is a platform to repeat a theme, and whether or not it is falsehood, it becomes a kind of truth.  However, this goes both ways.  On the internet liberals in the Blue states shit all over the process, the system, and the Democratic candidate for being less than they want and say outright they will not vote.  What works for a liar like Trump also works for Trump when Minhaj feeds masses to share their disaffected lack of enthusiasm over and over and over.  “I live in a Blue State, so not only do I not have to vote, I can be as politically negative as I want to be without any true consequences.”

And let’s examine consequences.  Those who complain the most about the system, the process, and the lack of more political parties to choose from are too often white, educated, middle class people with jobs.  They are not likely to truly suffer detention in an immigration lock-up, end up evicted, be without health care due to unemployment, be victimized as someone LGBT, or be beaten by an emboldened racist cop.  These are just a few examples of the real damage Trump has ushered in that many of these people will not suffer.  Hassan Minaj is not white, but he is famous (and I imagine) wealthy.  It is disappointing that he and anyone else thinks it is ok to play the middle of the field if one claims to believe in human rights.  If one asks someone if he or she would vote for MLK sooner than Biden, what would the most likely response be?  Martin Luther King Jr. was an alleged philanderer.  What does one do with that information?  Is he better or worse than Biden?  It is fortunately hypothetical, but this coming election is not.  Living in the hypothetical allows entropy to fester under the guise of idealistic purity, and as a result too many good people (and the environment) suffers.  Biden may not be Yoda, but it is easy to agree that Trump is one of the most horrible things to happen on planet Earth.  This is like a child at the ice cream store who has a choice between Vanilla (boring and simple) and Turdcream and Tabasco.  The kid stamps his feet and screams he wants more choices right before the store closes.  Eat the damned Vanilla, ya spoiled brat, and then seriously work on getting the other better flavors tomorrow!  Let’s get Turdcream and Tabasco off the f><king menu!

Illustration by Nails Nathan

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