by Mark E. Smith
|May 22, 2013|
It isn’t easy to get people to vote in the United States. Some know that the elections are rigged, that the popular vote doesn’t have to be counted, that 97% of the ballots are counted by central tabulators and are therefore completely unverifiable, or are aware of some of the dozens of other fundamental flaws in US elections such as gerrymandered districts, corporate money, etc., but some are actually apathetic. They know that anyone who runs in a US election is a crook (or will become one once they attempt to function within the compromising and corrupting complexities of power), and really aren’t interested in which crook wins. In March of this year (2013), a San Francisco mayoral election got a whopping 16% turnout. Here’s what Eric Mann had to say:
Yesterday, in between yawns and “Oh, was there some kind of election in the news that I missed?” 8 candidates ran in the “fight for the soul-less city” mayor race. The results: City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Council member Eric Garcetti will run in another soul-less run-off on Tuesday May 21 to see who will carry out the bidding of Eli Broad, the downtown business elite, the transnational capitalists, and the LAPD for the next four years-the job officially called “Mayor of Los Angeles.” This election was met with such a yawn that even the “voting class” — the group of middle-class people with no power and the illusion that they have some, forgot to vote. (“Hey, did you know that my brother-in-law knows Wendy’s nanny who knows Eric Garcetti’s mechanic and they said…blah blah blah.”) These are the “free elections” that are so free that nobody gives a damn, only 16 percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls and the rest not just stayed home, but debated whether Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez should be number one.
In Presidential elections the major political parties spend billions of corporate dollars getting out the vote, running ads on TV, mailing out flyers, printing billboards and yard signs, and opening district offices all over the country to coordinate tens of thousands of paid and volunteer workers who staff phone banks and go door to door asking people for their vote. At best, this can result in slightly more than half of eligible voters turning out, but not merely from these traditional methods alone. In order to get out the vote it is necessary to have something on the ballot that voters are interested in, and voters really aren’t much interested in candidates. So there are initiatives and propositions that focus on hot button issues like abortion, prayer in school, gay rights, gun ownership, marijuana, or food labeling, to elicit an emotional response from voters. Most “issue voters” fail to understand that when they vote for or against their issue, even if they leave everything else on the ballot blank, they are supporting the system that can, at any time, nullify any gains they thought they’d achieved. I talked about this in my essay, “Voting Against Values.” http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1517
Susie Day explains the mechanism of getting out the vote by using emotional issues in a brilliant essay for MRzine, which is worth reposting in full:
Bradley Manning Blows Chance to Have Gay Wedding
by Susie Day
May 20, 2013, http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/day200513.html
Gay greetings, LGBT-town! I’m your out-and-proud lesbian pundit. You may recognize me from my latest blog entry, “How Gay Was My Condo.” Today, I bring you a hard-hitting work of in-depth political analysis re: Private First Class Bradley Manning. It seems some malcontents on the Board of San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade have suggested Private Manning for Grand Marshal.
Private Manning is a 25-year-old, low-ranking intelligence officer facing a 22-count federal indictment — including one count of aiding the enemy — alleging he leaked the largest number of classified U.S. military records in history. Indeed, Manning admitted in court last February to feeding confidential data to the whistleblower website Wikileaks, thus stunning the world with over 700,000 items revealing heretofore unguessed-at diplomatic corruption, military malfeasance, and war crimes. These revelations, according to Bill Keller of The New York Times, played a role in launching the 2011 Arab Spring. Although prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty, Manning, if convicted, faces a possible 150 years in prison.
If Private Manning were some straight dude, we of LGBT-town would just keep shopping. But Bradley Manning is gay. Therein lies our shame.
Thankfully, SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams has already yanked Manning off the roster, “repudiating” his selection as a “mistake” by an unnamed staff member. For making that announcement “prematurely,” wrote Ms. Williams, this person was — in what will prove an historic salute to the S/M community — “disciplined.” (Interestingly, Ms. Williams did not mention the use of a “safe word.”)
Lisa Williams, who organized campaign offices for Barack Obama and works for other Democratic politicians, wrote, “[E]ven the hint of support for actions which placed in harm[‘]s way the lives of men and women in uniform . . . will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.”
Right on, Ms. Williams! I share your Obama-driven anger! For is it not President Obama who finally abolished the military‘s infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy? Is it not Mr. Obama who is the first president to support, while in office, our right to legal marriage?
Bradley Manning has done something horrible to LGBT-town — far worse than revealing war crimes. He raises the question: Do LGBT people, in some way, owe our improving legal status to those very war crimes Manning revealed?
We of LGBT-town are oppressed enough without having to ponder that, thank you!
Besides, the fact that we have ignored the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and rarely if ever bother to protest, as LGBT people, foreign policy abuses, suggests that Bradley Manning wouldn’t even want to be our Grand Marshal.
The best example of Private Manning’s leaks is the video that PC thugs entitled “Collateral Murder.” If you’re bored enough to click on the link, you’ll see a U.S. Apache attack helicopter in 2007, hovering over a public square in eastern Baghdad. Soldiers piloting the copter dryly — yet with a certain patriotic panache — target and shoot down two Reuters employees and about 12 Iraqi civilians. A minivan carrying several children then arrives, attempting to rescue the wounded, and is fired upon. All those on the ground, including the children, are killed. We hear a soldier say, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.”
It’s known that Private Manning, as a gay man, faced abuse in the military. In fact, homophobia has been advanced as a motive for his leaking information in the first place. But think, LGBT-town! Those shooters had been instructed by enlightened U.S. military personnel not to be homophobic. In fact, all during that helicopter massacre, you do not hear one antigay slur!
At his February court appearance, Private Manning explained that he had wanted to “spark a debate” on U.S. policies concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me . . . was the seemingly delightful bloodlust of the aerial weapons team. They dehumanized the individuals . . . by referring to them as ‘dead bastards,’ and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”
Is this the type of person we want as our Grand Marshal? I’m all for outing people, but classified data is just TMI. Yet Bradley Manning brutally ripped the door off the U.S. Army’s closet, thus placing in harm’s way the troops who daily and heroically place innocent civilians in harm’s way. He has betrayed our deep psychological need not to know anything about what our government does in our name.
In June, Manning will begin his trial — much of which will be, thank God, secret — a trial that will revive the homophobic stereotype LGBT-town has worked for years to erase: the commie fag. To counter that stereotype, it’s important for us to surround ourselves — as does SF Pride — with peppy, stalwart capitalist sponsors like Verizon, AT&T, and Wells Fargo (the latter, a proud investor in the private prison industry; take that, commie fag).
In conclusion: DUH?! It is impossible for Bradley Manning to be the Grand Marshal of any Gay Pride event: He’s in prison, you idiots. He can’t really be there.
Let that be a lesson to every LGBT-town queer who seeks acceptance in President Obama’s US of A. When it comes to government-sponsored mass killings and human rights abuses, maybe “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” isn’t such a bad idea, after all.
The price that voters pay in their attempts to get personal rights and privileges, is torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity. But since the price will be paid by others, not by the voters, this is something about which voters are also apathetic. What do they care how many innocent people our government kills, as long as they have the right to vote for or against something they really care about?
It isn’t just God, gays, guns, or GMOs. There are many other hot-button issues that the political parties can drag out at any time to get voters aroused. What matters to the corporations who own and run the United States government, who select and fund the candidates and their political campaigns, and who therefore can make the policy their political puppets carry out, is that the government can claim to have been democratically elected. In our winner-take-all electoral system, the winner claims the total voter turnout as their mandate even if 49% voted for their opponent and even if 80% were to leave the Presidential race blank and vote only on issues like God, gays, guns, grass and GMOs. If a substantial percentage of people vote, no matter who or what they vote for, or even if they cast blank protest ballots, the government can claim that a democratic election was held and that whoever won was therefore democratically elected. Without that voter turnout, the corporations would be exposed as the true rulers of the United States, it would be obvious to all that their puppets don’t represent the people, and our corporatocracy could no longer call itself a democracy. The government’s international credit rating would be lowered and it would be much more difficult for the government to borrow the money to wage the wars of aggression that the corporations demand so that they can control the world’s resources and suppress popular uprisings that support the rights of people to a decent life.
God, gays, guns, grass, and GMOs are just get-out-the-vote ploys. States can legalize marijuana, and several already have, but they haven’t been able to stop the federal government from arresting people for something a state has legalized. This is a top-down system, and reforms cannot be made from the bottom up by voting. At any time the federal government can send troops into any state to enforce federal laws, despite whatever conflicts there may be with state laws, and the Supreme Court can always strike down state laws as unconstitutional. You may remember from my earlier essays that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions cannot be appealed, so no matter how unprecedented, irrational, or even utterly insane such rulings may be (corporations are people? money is speech?), they are still the highest law of the land. When people vote, they are consenting to be governed by a system that they have authorized to nullify their votes at will. I can hardly think of anything more futile.