Republican Party Advances in California...

James Devine jdevine at
Mon Oct 5 14:26:46 PDT 1998

I asked: >>And, more importantly, tell us what's _wrong_ with the alternative to the mug's game.<<

Brad answers:
>Nothing's wrong with it, if you think that there was no difference between:
>John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon

Hmm... the womanizing invader of Cuba vs. the sleaze-bag McCarthyite nut?

I could probably go through the list of all of the pairs of presidential candidates and remark on each, amplifying them, going beyond the above type of superficial comment.

But that would miss the point. I don't want to repeat my point, even though Brad ignored it, because it would be boring to do so. I'm sure Brad can look up my previous comment in his archives.

Insted, restate the issue: last time I checked, my vote doesn't count for anything. There are millions and millions of other voters. So a simple economic calculation indicates that the cost of voting (driving to the school nearby, getting out of the car, etc., risking being late to work) may exceed the benefit (having a 1/1,000,000 impact on the election -- at most). So by simple economic criteria, I shouldn't vote at all.

(An old friend, Ben Ward of UC-Berkeley Econ., used exactly that logic to justify not voting. BTW, is he still around?)

But I don't follow simple economic logic. (If I did, I'd be a sociopath.) People vote because it involves something larger than mere self-interest. Indeed, the fact that people vote is a major strike against the usual economic theory of human behavior, which assumes that everyone -- including Brad -- is totally individualistic.

I vote because I think it represents a possibility for making a political and ethical statement; it's part of actually believing that the people should be running the government rather than having a monarchy. Besides, in California the Right is always throwing up obnoxious propositions that must be voted against. Maybe if enough people vote against them, the Right will stop doing it. Maybe they'll run out of money.

But why vote for the candidates, who say one thing but do another, and who respond more to big money than to any piddling election? (or see elections as simply the cost of getting campaign funds?) Voting for any candidate is a very ambiguous way of communicating with the powers that be.

So why vote? To make a statement. If I vote _for_ Barbara Boxer, against Matt Fong, I am voting for capital punishment, among other things. According to "Emily's List," "Boxer voted to put 100,000 new police officers on the street, to establish boot-camps for nonviolent juvenile offenders ... Boxer has also been active in efforts to step up enforcement of America's borders ..." According to MOTHER JONES, she's a former stock broker who likely profited in a big way from inside information and/or influence that boosted the value of Microsoft stock she had bought. I doubt she'll change her obnoxious policies. Maybe she's better than Dianne Feinstein (the other California US senator), but that's not saying much.

I would rather make a statement that is unambiguous -- a rejection not only of the rigged game that is the US electoral system but of the politics as usual. In California, that's voting either Green or Peace & Freedom.

Now if you want me to vote for Boxer, you have to convince me she's a good candidate, one who represents what I hold near and dear. You'll have to convince me she is as good as Wellstone, or better. Simply telling me she's better than Fong doesn't help. It's like telling a prisoner that the nice cop interrogating him is better than the nasty one waving the rubber hose. They're both on the same side.

Put it another way: does reelecting Boxer give the working class and other oppressed groups more power in society? does it build up the strength of the grass-roots opposition to the powers that be? how does reelecting her fit with a long-term strategy of transforming this world into a better place?

Paul Henry Rosenberg, who seems to be my soul-mate on this issue, writes: > Well, counterattacking Starr may actually BE important. But when so engaged, I'm always quite proud to tell people I'm NOT a Clinton supporter & voted against him 4 times. It's not only true, it's a better position to fight the right from.<

absolutely! Voting for sleaze-bags like Clinton makes you responsible for them. (Of course, if you believe that individual votes are meaningless, then you're not responsible. But then there's no reason to vote at all.)

Jim Devine jdevine at &

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