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Zeroes don’t count: Politics 101


Whoever wins the vote in 2012, as Dak points out women have lost. The only thing politicians are arguing about is who can barter away more of women’s fundamental rights. It’s become a given that rights for female people are an optional frill, to be indulged only if there’s really nothing else that needs doing. They’re a “pet rock.”

Among the many brilliant discoveries by Douglas Adams, perhaps the most insightful is the one showing how to make anything invisible. It’s really easy. You just surround it with the Somebody Else’s Problem field. Something as vast as the inalienable rights of half the entire country can disappear almost overnight. Men are convinced it’s women’s problem. Women are convinced it’s poor women’s problem. Or teenagers’. Or somebody else’s. Anybody else’s. It doesn’t matter. That’s all it takes for invisibility.

The only way to destroy the field is to make it their problem, which, in this particular case, means making politicians pay a price when they try to turn women into fungible incubators.

Well, the only hold we voters have over politicians is our vote. Nothing else.

They’re convinced, and with good reason, that everything else can be bought. Advertising to try to get votes depends on money. Cushy post-government jobs depend on networking. Voters can’t influence any of that. The actual vote is the only thing a voter controls.

So it’s our one and only tool, our one and only leverage. Nor is it a minor thing. As madamab notes, “The bottom line is this: Women. Win. Elections. Not only do we make up the majority of volunteers for political campaigns in general, not only do we donate in droves, but we also vote. A lot. And wherever we go en masse, is wherever the winning candidate goes.”

But if you can’t withhold your vote from a politician, you have zero leverage. You don’t count.

If something else is more important, dead wedding guests to take Ian Welsh’s example, then you have to ask yourself a couple of things.

As a matter of practical fact, have the dead innocents stopped piling up under Obama? No. The talk is prettier, but the walk is the same.

The other question is whether ignoring your own rights actually solves anybody else’s problems. Does trampling women’s human rights result in a better world? Does it end war? Stop poverty? Eradicate ignorance? Stop global warming? Transition us all to sustainable energy? Provide prosperity and military supremacy? No. No, no, no, and no. So, by putting yourself second, nobody else gets a better life and everybody loses.

Trampling women’s human rights makes no sense in any universe. Not in principle, where compromising those inalienable rights leads only to greater compromises because trampling rights is habit-forming. Not in practical politics, where the extortioners take your vote but don’t have the honesty of a common criminal and don’t even hand over whatever mess of pottage your vote was supposed to buy.

So vote for Obama if you feel you have to because the other Republicans talk like bigger sociopaths, but do it without illusions. Things will continue to get worse. Your rights will continue to vaporize. However, otherwise things might become as bad sooner.

Or they might not. Some people might make feeble cries of protest when Republicans impoverished and killed people.

Or, maybe, the 2%-less-evil-Republicans (aka “Democrats”) will be the difference that saves us from the apocalypse. I can’t say that I see that last possibility myself. All I see is that voting for Obama means active participation in our own destruction. That’s worse than refusing to help. It’s worse even when the end is the same.

There is another choice. Own your vote. Refuse coercion, extortion, and hostage-taking. Vote third party or write someone in. Sure, we’ll lose this time. But if enough of us lose together, it’s the first step to not losing.