Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I'll Never Vote in a National Election Again

George Carlin - Voting is a meaningless exercise

 “Voting is a meaningless exercise. I’m not going to waste my time with it. These parties, these politicians are given to us as a way of making us feel we have freedom of choice. But we don’t.”
— George Carlin

After 2020, I won't be voting again for any candidates for President, House, or Senate. Why should I bother, when my vote really doesn't matter? Don't try to tell me "every vote counts." Maybe in some swing states they do, but not in California. I live in a solidly Democratic district in a solidly Democratic state. Gerrymandering has made my vote for representative meaningless, while the Electoral College makes my vote for president meaningless, because California is a "winner take all" state. California will have two Democratic Senators for the foreseeable future, and so my voting for Senator certainly won't ever change the outcome.

The System is Broken

The ideal of one person, one vote completely disappears in the Electoral College and the Senate. Right now we have a president who lost the popular vote in 2016 and a Senate where there is a 53-person Republican majority that represents tens of millions fewer Americans than the 45-person Democratic minority and 2 Independents.

The Senate greatly magnifies the power of small states. GOP controlled Wyoming, population 582,000, has two senators and so does Dem controlled California, with a population of 38.8 million. As a result, California's Senators represent 66 times more voters than Wyoming’s. 

The GOP enjoys many institutional advantages that have allowed them far more power and control than they deserve.

  • Electoral College -- a relic of slavery compromises.
    red states represent far fewer actual voters
  • Gerrymandering -- both sides do it and it means few seats are actually at risk in each election
  • When voting takes place on a workday, the party with older and more-affluent voters enjoys a boost at the polls.
  • Two-party system means that Republicans who don't want Trump have nowhere else to go
  • Republicans control voting in the "Red" states and engage in voter suppression, via Voter ID, purging voter rolls, limiting polling hours and places, etc.

Republicans have won the popular vote in presidential elections just once in the last 30 years. Much of the Republican base views defeat as catastrophic. White Christians are losing more than an electoral majority; their once-dominant status in American society is eroding. They have reacted to perceptions of an existential threat with a win-at-any-cost mentality.

Even when Republicans lose they employ any means necessary to hold onto power. After losing the governorship in North Carolina in 2016 and Wisconsin in 2018, Republicans used lame-duck legislative sessions to push through a flurry of bills stripping power from incoming Democratic governors. 

Needless to say, Republicans will never give up the institutional and structural advantages that allow them to control the US government with a minority of the popular votes. 

Meanwhile, Democrats in safe House and Senate seats, like my representatives, don't have to do what's best for their constituents, because just like the so-called "moderate Republicans" Liberals and Progressives have nowhere else to go. As a result we have "corporate Democrats" who pay lip service to progressive goals while continuing to do the bidding of giant corporations. 

California has one Senator now -- Diane Feinstein -- 87 years old and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, who should never have been re-elected in 2018 because she was already notably slipping mentally and she has only gotten worse. Not to mention that she has been way too conservative for California for at least the past 12 years, but she was re-elected anyway because the Dem primary is too much of an uphill battle for challengers.

In short, while one can expect at least some positive changes over time, the overall trend is mostly negative. America had already become an oligarchy long before Trump ever took office, and Trump has added demagoguery, authoritarianism and kleptocracy. The divide among Americans continues to grow and the future looks very bleak indeed.

Authoritarianism on the rise

And it's not just happening in the US. Much of Europe is heading in the same direction, not to mention China, Russia and the rest of the world. 

You do what is right for you. If I lived in a so-called "battleground" state my votes for national office would matter. I don't and so I don't see any point in it. I'm not getting my hopes up or validating the current broken system with my votes. However, for what it's worth, I will continue to vote on local representatives and issues that I can still influence.

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