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P. Diddy and the rest of Hollywood swear up and down that voting is a big deal and that everyone who’s eligible to do so should register (or, should have, seeing as we’re past the deadline). If City Paper turns out to be one of those companies that gives its employees a break midday to hit the polls, I’m going to steal around the corner to North Sea for a pack of smokes, then I’m going to find myself a nice park bench and enjoy the cold. In other words, I’m not going to vote.
I’m boycotting the election because neither John McCain nor Barack Obama comes close to representing my interests. My ideal candidate would advocate for an immediate end to the drug war, legalization of gay marriage (not civil unions), the adoption of a flat consumption tax, and the dissolution of the DoE, DoT, DoI, FCC, FDA, ATF, DEA, and the IRS; and would veto every bill, regardless of add-ons, that sought to perpetuate any of the above. And I’d also expect him or her to have a withdrawal plan ready for activation by inauguration day.
Voting for Obama or McCain while knowing that neither would touch my agenda with a 10-foot hook would be a form of self-sabotage. And praising one candidate over another means ignoring the fact that Joe Biden is a chickenhawk covered in dove shit. That Sarah Palin is an eschatologically-driven dunce. And that Obama and McCain are both arrogant ladder-climbers who treat governance like an opportunity to gleefully try out their big ideas, rather than as a distasteful obligation. (Where’s the George Washington, “Do I have to?” ethos when we need it?)
And while I believe that having McCain and Palin in the White House would be a base defilement of the office of president, I’m not going to vote for Obama and Biden simply because their presence would be less of a defilement.
Once everyone tires of chastising me for abstaining, I can lord it over them when Obama or McCain fucks up, as politicians are wont to do. And I can point out, gleefully, that this is what voters get for participating in a system that favors two bloated, inconsistent, irrational parties—and treats everyone else like a bunch o’ kooks.
Why won’t I vote for a third party candidate?
Because voting for a candidate who has no chance of getting elected—even if he or she represents my interests—suggests that I believe statement voting can affect the system. And that would be plain silly. (If Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t win with the Bull Moose party, no third party candidate—under our current system—can.)
I want a run-off. Or a nation-wide write-in system. Or to choose our presidents by dice. All of these things would be better than what we have.
In anticipation of the people who will argue that allowing McCain and Palin to get elected will lead to at least four more years of Bush-like authoritarianism, I say don’t kid yourselves. Some of the most authoritarian laws of the last couple decades we’re supported by both parties: Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, DMCA, FISA, the PATRIOT Act, and now the Bailout Bill. Each and every one made it to the president’s desk with support from both parties.
And people who say that everyone should vote often omit that they’ve been deeply dissatisfied with politics for most of their adult lives, that this isn’t the first time they thought a candidate was going to change the world, and that they vote out of fear of what would happen if the other party made it to the White House. I, and the millions of Americans who can but won’t show up at the polls, refuse to join such a disillusioned group.