Let’s start with this simple question: with which of the following statements do you most agree?
- The American political system works just fine, exactly the way it is. The only meaningful question is which one of the two major parties is better qualified to run it.
- The American political system is seriously flawed. I wish there were some way to fix it, and make government more representative of – and accountable to – the voters. I wish I had more choices.
- The American political system is broken, period. I no longer wish to participate in it, because as far as I’m concerned, they’re all crooks.
If you agree with the first option, then your course of action over the next couple of weeks is clear: pick the candidate(s) that you like, and then work like hell to get them elected. Get on the phones, send in donations, knock on doors, talk to your neighbors, stop by the local party HQ of your choice and get involved. You will make new friends, get to know some great people, and make a significant contribution to your community.
And you may stop reading at this point, because the rest of this essay is not intended for you. (Let’s take a brief pause while those folks leave.)
Alright. Here we are. For whatever reason, you have realized that the present system does not address your concerns, respond to your needs, or represent your interests in any meaningful way. Either you’d like to make some changes, or you’ve already given up.
So what do you do?
If you tune out, and stay home on Election Day as a protest, I’m afraid I have bad news: the System doesn’t care. As far as the System is concerned, a person who stays away out of antipathy is indistinguishable from one who stays away out of apathy… and the System chooses to interpret your nonparticipation not as protest, but as PERMISSION to keep doing exactly what it’s been doing.
In other words: a boycott is actually a vote for business as usual.
But if you hold your nose and vote for the “lesser evil,” the System also takes that as permission to continue as before. So what can you do when none of the choices make sense?
Simple: VOTE OTHER.
Through the magic of the write-in ballot, you do actually have the freedom to vote for ANYONE, if you don’t like either of the major candidates. So imagine this scenario: What if, in some major election (and it doesn’t have to be the Presidential one, by the way – could be House, or Senate, or Governor), the major parties COMBINED failed to garner a majority of the votes? (“The Republican got 23%, the Democrat got 21%, but the remaining 56% went to other candidates…”)
I believe that such a result would get the attention of the real power brokers in this country, the folks that pull the strings not only of both parties but of the broadcast media that try to manage our discussions and tell us what to think. And it would begin to open the way to what I think we really need in this country: a true, functional, multiparty democracy.
So, if you find yourself presented with unacceptable choices, don’t sit it out. Get in there and VOTE OTHER – either vote for some provided third-party or independent option, or write in SOMEONE else – and please note, it could be ANYONE else (even yourself!).
Stop by voteotherproject.wordpress.com to get more information, and sign the “VOTE OTHER” pledge. If enough people can make the required mental leap, we could change the way this country works.