A person who is very dear to me recently expressed a commonly held misconception about our political system, to wit; “They’re all thieves. No matter who gets in they do what they’re told by the big money boys. None of them are going to make any difference to me since they’ll both be stealing as much as they can.”
This “six of one half a dozen of the other” is certainly an understandable conclusion to come to, particularly in the current climate of “corporations are people.” This thinking sidelines many otherwise intelligent people and keeps them from voting in the mistaken belief that their vote will not make any difference.
If elections were all about money this might be a reasonable approach, but elections are not really about money. Elections are about freedom, and if you don’t believe me, just look around at the countries without elections or with fully corrupted ones. They are countries without freedom.
It is only natural and normal for those who, by dint of talent, work, or inheritance are in command of great wealth, to take steps to protect and increase that wealth and the power that it can buy in any system. To the elite, the security of their wealth is paramount among their interests. Second to security is their ability to increase their holdings and their value which often means looking for ways to reduce expenses, often wages and commissions.
History offers example after example of what happens when the elites amass enough power to disregard the will of the people: unions are busted, self-help organizations are painted as treasonous, and the lives of the wealthy move ever further away from the lives of the populace.
Here in America the battle between privileged money and the rest of us has been going on since the birth of the Constitution and gains against economic repression are hard to come by. In addition, when gains are made they are immediately put under attack by reactionary forces. By looking around the world we can see countries in every level of social development from repression of all political activity, through active revolution to political battles being fought with words and organizations. Politics will never be peaceful, but arguments are better than civil wars.
The forces of reaction promulgate the idea of “a pox on both houses” because even at their best, the elite cannot muster 51 percent of the populace without lots of lies on the one hand and wedge issues on the other.
A healthy society would include all its members in its plans and budgets. A healthy economy would start with the concept of “first we all eat and have a secure place to raise our families” and would make its decisions based on that premise. This is not going to happen among humans since very few people are able to include “we all” in their thinking. This being the case, we need non-lethal methods of settling our differences and the vote is the most powerful of the peaceful weapons.
America has always contained a significant group of people for whom liberty and freedom are the foremost desires, and though the road is never easy since the other side has most of the money, many gains have been made which make life in America so desirable to outsiders. But gains can be lost through flagging interest and repeated assault.
This current election could not have offered a clearer choice between the forces of reaction who would dismantle many of the gains of the past 60 years (women’s choice, regulated markets, international reasonableness) against the best spokesman for the needs of the population as a whole for a generation.
I vote because citizenship and organization offers the most workable way forward to a world of peace and plenty. This election I voted out of fear of losing what we have gained so far.