Political Change Without Voting
It is perhaps pleasant to think that we accomplish true change
with our votes. And we all want some kind of political change.
Some of us might want a return to fiscal responsibility, or a
government that respects the rights of all humans. Yet many of
us feel like there is no hope with the candidates we get each
time there are national elections. We see the same institutionalized
corruption, and if there is change it seems that it is for the
Vote for the best of the choices offered, we are told. Voting
for the "lesser of evils" is what this means if we
truly dislike the options. Whichever candidate that is, it still
means we vote for what we don't want and for policies that go
against our values. Is there an alternative to this charade?
Withholding Votes for Political Change
I say just don't vote. There is no obligation to vote, and
no need nor use, especially when it means nothing more than giving
your assent to a government you don't want in the first place.
The argument that starts, "What if nobody voted..."
is just silliness and a distraction. There will always be millions
of voters for every lesser-of-evils election, so we won't run
out of "democracy."
So what does not voting accomplish? It doesn't do much by
itself, although a non-vote is at least a vote of no confidence
for the existing system, a statement of sorts. On the other hand,
if you also take a few other key actions, it sets up the conditions
for real change: A changing political culture.
People will vote anyhow remember, and the candidate who is
closest to the views of the populace will often win the race.
So rather than cast one little vote for a non-choice, why not
change the minds of those who do participate. With enough new
and better ideas out there, you may someday get a candidate that
actually represents your interests and values.
Of course changing the political climate sounds tough, but
it doesn't have to be. None of us has an obligation to spend
our time and money convincing others of better ideas. But if
we want to do something we can start with little steps, like
buying the books of those authors who represent your convictions,
and so encouraging and enabling them to write more. Good books
in the bookstores can go a long way towards changing people's
minds over the years.
You can also contribute to those causes that you believe in,
whether that's the communist party or a green party or the Libertarian
party. It makes a difference, even though we know there is no
chance of a third party getting a candidate elected as president
right now. What they do is bring up issues that the Democrats
and Republicans then feel obligated to address. This is better
than voting for candidates with bad ideas, and so encouraging
bad policies. Support good ideas and you at least help drag those
bad candidates in a good direction, even if it is just so they
get more votes.
The complete recipe for meaningful change: Spread good ideas,
support good ideas, consciously withhold support for "lesser"
choices, and vote only when there is a truly good candidate.
Get enough people to follow this plan and we might have more
candidates worth voting for.