Sep 23

Voter Boycott is a Misguided Strategy

A posting by Terri Lee on ZBlogs put forth a call to boycott the 2012 elections.   While I absolutely share the belief that there needs to be a culture of resistance and a challenge to corporate control of the two parties, I think an election boycott is not the correct strategy to achieve these goals.  To be clear, I am by no means putting Obama on a pedestal as the leader of a progressive movement and he has often pursued terrible policies.  He is a centrist Democrat as connected to corporate power as being president requires.

Nonetheless, I think a Romney presidency would be far worse in terms of the damage he would do to most Americans.  Paul Ryan’s plan to make Medicare a voucher system is guaranteed to shift medical costs to seniors.  While a single-payer system would be preferable, Obama’s health care reform does more than Romney would ever do to prevent insurance companies from denying claims to people with preexisting conditions.  Obama is far more likely to promote a government stimulus to the economy than Romney.

While in the long term I would like to see something like Participatory Economics replace capitalism and am fully aware that Obama is part of an unfair capitalist system, electing him will do less harm to average Americans.  There are other ways to build a culture of resistance, such as supporting worker cooperatives.

On another level, in 2008, only 57% of eligible voters voted in the presidential election.  That means 43% of the population was already boycotting the election.  Increasing that number is only useful if there is some other political or social activity for them to be engaged in, whether it be the union movement, worker co-op movement or anything else.



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  1. Ngawang Trinlay

    Good post. I have seen election boycotts before and I think the main purpose is to de-legitimize the election and, as a result, achieve some goal. But in this case this would not happen. As you mentioned, 47% already didn’t vote in the last election.

    1. Deborra Ann Low

      If our choices were between John Floyd Thomas or Ted Bundy I wonder if you’d still be weighing out which would do less harm to average Americans? Is there a point where the blood on Obama’s hands gets thick enough that it can’t be overlooked? And Mitt promises us more of the same murder and mayhem in our name. So tell me, is it really less harmful to ask average Americans to endorse the slaughter of human beings in exchange for “a government stimulus to the economy” ?

      1. Terri Lee

        Right on Debora Ann Low — the ‘choice’ is ‘no choice’ indeed. Our entire election system is fraudulent. On election day — STAY HOME as many are! Better yet — take it to the streets in protest!

    2. Terri Lee

      Greetings Ngawang. Well, there are numerous effective Election Boycotts taking place right now in other countries where they have had a positive effect. Most recently the Election Boycott in Belarus shut down the polls.

      Boycott 2012 is in full swing now and is on the move!

      There are numerous Boycott articles coming out and TV appearances in addition to the Boycott being all over social media.

      For more, please see: http://www.electionboycott2012.org

      And my updated Z space: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/TerriLee

      For example, here is Linh Dinh on PRESS TV: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/10/09/265673/us-elections-referendum-for-endless-war/

      1. Adam Weiss
        Adam Weiss

        I am deeply critical of our electoral system and I agree that electoral boycotts can be effective. In this comment you restated the example of the Belarus example, which I criticized on ZBlogs and which you ignore again. The reason the electoral boycott is a good tactics is because it has the support of the major opposition parties and was essentially called for by them. They have in Belarus what we do not yet have: a strong base of support for discrediting the election of the current party and a clear demand, which is free and fair elections instead of an authoritarian system. Moreover, they have a chance of achieving it. In the US there is no strong base of support for ditching our elections, the demand will not be met essentially until we have publicly financed electoral systems. In your other comment, you suggest people take to the streets. Protest is all well and good, but what is your goal in protesting? Do you have one? Or are you trying to take the moral high road so you can feel good about yourself?

  2. Adam Weiss
    Adam Weiss

    First, your hypothetical situation of two famed serial killers is just that, hypothetical. It has not bearing on the current reality. The question is not “Is Obama, as president, likely to do horrible things?” Obviously, yes. The real question, as stated in previous posts, here and on ZBlogs, is whether a Romney administration would do more harm. On the foreign policy front, I think Democrats and Republicans tend to be about equally as bad. The domestic front is different, however.

    Regarding asking “average Americans to endorse the slaughter of human beings,” surely we do far more endorsing of killing by paying taxes. If you have job, you are contributing to this slaughter, as am I. Are you asking average Americans to stop paying taxes and face severe financial hardship so they will stop endorsing slaughter? I don’t blame you if not, because these are tactical choices to be made, not statements to make us feel more moral.

    Government stimulus to the economy is not a tiny thing to be dismissed. An economy with more jobs means people can feed their families and not struggle as much paycheck to paycheck.

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  1. Ellsberg Piece and Voter Boycott Counter-Productiveness | Political Creativity

    […] is important to defeat Romney.  I post this as an elaboration on the back and forth on ZSpace and here that I had with Terri Lee, who supports a voter boycott.  I don’t think the number of people […]

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