Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shut The Vote Up

Diddy wants you to vote or die, but I want you to watch the full video

"If you don't vote, then ... Shut. Up." That was the sentiment plastered yesterday on Greg Laden's blog, along with a (mildly amusing) celebrity "vote or die" video. The fare at his blog is typically a combination of evolution, general science, and atheism. There's also a distinctive liberal political component, which normally doesn't draw my attention. Given the recent proximity to the election, however, the interest has been nearly 100% political.

That statement bothered me, because I didn't vote today. I didn't plan to vote. Neither of the Presidential candidates (and none of the state or local candidates) represent my values. In fact, I consider the practice of voting itself to be irrational and opposed to my values. So I offered the following comment:

No, I don't believe I will shut up.

The lack of a candidate I would want to vote for doesn't preclude my right to criticize.

Posted by: Zachary Moore | November 3, 2008 2:48 PM

And that was followed by a lot or angry irrationality3:

Zachary: You seem so like so many who have this attitude. Have you looked at your local sample ballot? No,you have not. Have you considered that there are many different races about which you know nothing? Of course not. Have you looked at the various ballot questions and other issues that will change the world you live in, like it or not, that you have an opportunity? No. Why? Because you are an arrogant sob.

Like the man says, shut up.

Posted by: Elizabeth | November 3, 2008 2:55 PM

Zachary, the fact that you can't even find a candidate you find preferable to the others suggests that you're waiting for utopia or otherwise delusional. You can talk all you want, but don't be surprised if no one thinks you have anything to add to the conversation.

Posted by: Stephanie Z | November 3, 2008 2:55 PM

sorry. sob = ... well, I forgot. snob? slob? Oh, no, I remember now! sob = S.O.B.


Posted by: Elizabeth | November 3, 2008 3:00 PM

I agree with Zachary. There is NO rational or constitutional argument for this oft repeated truism.

And lack of suitable candidates is a damned good reason.

Posted by: jayh | November 3, 2008 4:21 PM

Jayh, this is a social thing, not a constitutional thing. I for one do not want to engage in the conversation with those who do not participate in this basic way, and you can't make me. It is utterly rational for me to make this choice. My intent is social isolation of the misanthrope undeserving of my time or respect.

And Jay, you provide the same clue as Zach that you have not thought this through. There is almost always one or more issues ... not candidates ... that are important, and a blanket statement that no such issues deserve your attention is as idiotic and ignorant as the blanket statement that no electoral race deserves your interest or attention.

You are nothing other than being lazy. There is no other rational explanation for your behavior.

Vote or shut up.

Posted by: Elizabeth | November 3, 2008 4:26 PM

jayh, one can only afford to wait for a "suitable" candidate if there is literally no difference between the choices. When there are differences (and there are always differences), the choice matters. Either you make a choice, you run yourself, or you own up to the fact that you've abdicated your responsibility. There's no fourth choice that doesn't make you a no-account whiner.

Posted by: Stephanie Z | November 3, 2008 4:30 PM


Another misanthrope you may want to socially isolate yourself from.

I have familiarized myself with my local ballot... about the only thing I might consider voting for is a measure to allow beer sales in my city, but then again, the liquor store in the next town is only five minutes away.

Laziness has nothing to do with my reticence to vote, and I can only assume that your ignorant ad hominem is a mark of your own irrationality on this issue. As it happens, even if there was a candidate with which I fully agreed, I consider voting itself to be a morally questionable process. The majority opinion is not necessarily the right opinion (cf. slavery, homosexuality, atheism), and I cannot in good conscience willingly participate in a system that perpetuates such gross immorality.

Posted by: Zachary Moore | November 3, 2008 5:42 PM

Zachary, let me be perfectly clear about this. I despise you and your whiny, apathetic, pretentious, grossly entitled ilk. You are the sort of vaporish, dithering, useless creature for whom fainting couches were conceived. Your opinion on governance carries all the weight of the feathers you keep in the place of your brain.


Posted by: Stephanie Z | November 3, 2008 6:54 PM


If I am to take your well-reasoned, temperate response as an example of the caliber of people who adhere to the "vote or die" sentiment, is it any wonder why I consider following your example to be ethically abhorrent?

Posted by: Zachary Moore | November 3, 2008 7:10 PM

As a middle aged boring baby-boomer, married over 30 years, with 3 grown children, this brought tears to may eyes.
The first time I voted was for Jimmy Carter. I took my 20 year-old son down to City Hall last Firday to get him registered and then to vote (early). I don't know who he voted for and I don't care. I also don't care if you have to pick the 'least worst' guy to vote for, and I don't care if you vote for some impossible 3rd party candidate, just vote. I had relatives who died in WWII and Korea, and friends who died in Viet Nam, Iraq and Iran. Whatever I (or you)think of these wars is beside the point: If you want to have any say in whether you or your friends have to put your lives on the line, the first and best way to get a seat at the table is to VOTE!

Posted by: Tom Coward | November 3, 2008 7:39 PM


Apparently you do.


If petty appeals to emotion are "beside the point," why bring them up? I do not agree that combining apathy and democracy is any sort of virtue. I would no sooner submit to the will of the majority opinion for my own life than I would presume to dictate the lives of anyone espousing a minority view. It is a tainted seat one gets when one participates in an immoral system; I simply choose to avoid that ethical compromise.

Posted by: Zachary Moore | November 3, 2008 9:42 PM

As usual, it falls to Penn to rescue us from this orgiastic festival of democratic self-indulgence.

Post a Comment


At 11/05/2008 5:08 AM, Blogger HellboundAlleee declaimed...

In fact, if you vote, you are the one who can't complain. You are the one who fully endorses the system, you are the one who agrees the outcome is good/democratic, so you are the one who should shut up and live with it.

However, the fact is, no one truly believes that if one does not vote, one loses their right to complain. Unless they don't believe in the existence of the constitution, or concede that the government truly doesn't recognize the first amendment.

At 11/05/2008 5:39 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

I posted a reply:

"Democracy is a sham. You have the choices the ruling class wants you to have. You have no real freedom to express yourself. Democracy is supposed to be the rule by the people, but it's merely a way for people to feel like they are doing something while the ruling class gains more legitimacy than it ever had in history.

Anyone who believes Obama cares about your values, or that McCain cared about your values, or that any politician wants to help you, is a hopeless fool.

Anarchy is the only rational political ideology in a sea of irrationality, conformity and fear of authority. Science sure isn't the answer. Science gave us the nuclear bomb. "Value-neutral" my ass."

At 11/08/2008 11:10 AM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

I have voted for the lesser of two evils all my life. I'm not happy about that. I prefer the tyranny of the majority over other forms of tyranny. I believe all systems are subject to manipulation and hierarchical control. I believe to think otherwise of the partially miserable Human Race is to indulge in unfounded idealism. There are too many people who are willing to be led. That's why the socio-religious-political-military machine works the world over.

I believe that you have to pick your battles. From my point of view, if you strongly dislike the current two-faction system, it is more constructive at present to vote for a third-party candidate and at least have your disaffection on the record. A growing trend in that direction might at least serve to disrupt their complacency if nothing else.

Of course democracy is a sham. We live in a republic. The important difference to me is the difference between no recourse and almost no recourse.

At 11/08/2008 12:53 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

How is it "constructive" to vote for anyone? What exactly do you think it does, apart from make you feel like a special boy?

At 11/09/2008 11:36 AM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

Nice ad hom. Franc. Nice to see some things never change.

I wrote that comment before I played Penn's video, but I find myself in agreement (vote for a nutjob). I don't understand what you expect to accomplish by not voting beyond self-satisfaction. I agree you have every right to continue complaining. Even if you start a trend, at what point would you expect the machine to admit its lack of legitimacy? When only 50% of the population votes? 30%? 20% 10%? Do you think they care what percentage of the population votes? Do you see any of this as an achievable goal?

As I see it, the problem at hand right now is almost half the population of this country has been hypnotized into following a nonsensical but highly lucrative ideology. One that would, unchecked, turn this country into a Christian version of Afghanistan, and figuratively wipe its collective ass on even more of the Constitution than it already has. This is an ideology that thrives on, and actively fosters ignorance, hatred, and division.

As I see it, the money and power represented in that voting bloc has to be sufficiently eroded before your strategy has a chance. After that, the fund-raising ability of the two factions needs to be neutralized. Until such time, in my opinion, what you advocate is neither constructive nor destructive. It is strictly marginal.

I want to be clear on this too, Franc: I’m not trying to change your mind or behavior; I’m not vain enough to think I could. I think it would be nice if, years from now, you are proven right from a historical perspective. I think your views add a needed perspective to the political dialogue. I also think you are ahead of your time, and while someone always needs to be, I choose to engage the current social situation in a different way.

At 11/09/2008 12:14 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

It's not an ad hom... most people do vote because it makes them feel special. They are very well aware that their vote is useless (and so does anyone with a rudimentary grasp of mathematics).

"I don't understand what you expect to accomplish by not voting beyond self-satisfaction."

"Accomplish?" Non-voting does not "accomplish" anything, not any more than voting does. The only thing non-voting really does is give you some free time and keep you from being further indoctrinated in this insane game show/circus act hybrid we call democracy.

Voting is the sign of failure. Any ideology which relies on taking power for itself and coercing others is immoral and deserves to fail. The only methods for social change which have ever brought freedom are direct action and mutual aid. And that's a fact.

At 11/09/2008 1:01 PM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

Here's my typical response to the claim that your vote doesn't make a difference:

Correct, it doesn't. But the mentality that your vote doesn't make a difference can be debilitating to a political cause, because if everyone realized that fact, it would make a difference. The reason, of course, is that your vote does make a difference--it's just that the difference is so unbelievably tiny that, colloquially, it doesn't make a difference. One part in a million means nothing, many parts do.

I normally don't deride people for not voting, because I agree with Zach's points. This past election, however, I think that the difference between the "lesser of two evils" was simply too great to ignore. The Republican Ignoramus Tyranny has gone on far too long, and it's still going on conservative states in the South and West, and I honestly can't bear to see our country headed by ignorant lunatics any longer.

At 11/09/2008 10:55 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"I think that the difference between the "lesser of two evils" was simply too great to ignore. "

That is your belief.

At 11/09/2008 11:13 PM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

Totally, which is why I encouraged people to vote this election, but I don't berate those who don't.

At 11/09/2008 11:14 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

And what did your vote accomplish?

At 11/09/2008 11:51 PM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

My vote? Well, I contributed a miniscule fraction to support for Obama, which I think is at least a step closer to the direction. If the x-axis is the right direction, I'd say the Republican party would have taken us towards 135 degrees, and the Dems to about 60 degrees. I think I helped push us in the 60 degree direction.

Also, for a completely superficial reason (not the real reason, but I suppose it's a bonus), now I don't have to deal with people who would yell at me for speaking yet not voting.

At 11/09/2008 11:56 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"My vote? Well, I contributed a miniscule fraction to support for Obama, which I think is at least a step closer to the direction."

Uh, okay. So you added 1 more unit of support to someone whose interests have nothing to do with yours, in exchange for an hour of your time. Yea, sounds like a great tradeoff.

At 11/10/2008 12:38 AM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

My superficial reason above will more than make up for the hour lost voting. Also, my vote was more of a prevention from from McCain. So whereas I don't particularly agree with all of Obama's policies, I disagree more strongly with more of McCains, so I consider my vote worth it from my perspective.

At 11/10/2008 12:42 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

You just fell into standard voter babbling. Wake up...

Your vote accomplished absolutely nothing except waste an hour of your time dedicated to someone who does not want to help you or your society. That's all there is to it.

At 11/10/2008 1:27 AM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

The reason Obama won this election is because the nation was overcome with "voter frenzy"--far more people voted than normally do, people who voted Democrat, and as a result the Republischmoozers were swept out of office. If millions of Americans hadn't done what I did, we'd be stuck with another four years of thousand-year old thinking. Sure, my individual vote doesn't count, but I represent a group of people whose cumulative vote does count, and part of the tacit agreement is that we vote, because collectively our votes do matter.

At 11/10/2008 1:28 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

The aggregate belief in Obama, yes. Not your individual vote. Your vote was merely the outward expression of the belief.

At 11/10/2008 1:35 AM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

Right, but in order for the aggregate vote to exist, the individual vote must exist as well. It's not simply an expression, it's an agreement to contribute that minute amount to the aggregate.

At 11/10/2008 1:39 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

I said an aggregate belief, not an aggregate vote. Anyway, this discussion is going into minute semantics and you're completely missing the point.

At 11/10/2008 1:51 AM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

You're right, I misread because it's late and I'm tired.

I don't think I'm missing the point either, I think we're both raising valid points from both sides. Your point is (correct me if I'm wrong) that an individual's vote has less value than is worth the hour of one's time, because 1) we're not even voting for what we actually believe in, we're just voting for choices forced on us by our "democracy", and 2) the weight of our vote is so minuscule as to render it mathematically insignificant.

I agree that these points are valid, but I think there's another "group mentality" point that requires the individual--who believes in (or would like to see actualized, as opposed to the alternatives) one side's policies--to vote. A group can achieve nothing if its individuals aren't willing to sacrifice that one hour to vote--it's a necessary sacrifice without which the group has no sway.

At 11/10/2008 1:53 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

What "group" are you part of? The "Obalabalalabamba is the new messiah" group?

At 11/10/2008 1:54 AM, Blogger Marshall declaimed...

No, the "get the f*cking Republicans out of the White House" group.

At 11/10/2008 1:56 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Yea, that sounds like a worthwhile cause to sacrifice yourself for, all right.

At 11/12/2008 7:02 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

Let's change the subject.

Anybody wanna talk about immigration?

... How 'bout that war on terror?

... NAFTA?

... Is your refrigerator running?

They're all crooks. I just like to see one bunch rousted in favor of the other before any of them get too comfortable. That way, the government changes course before any one course runs the country completely into the ground. This works for me since I'm too lazy to provision a bunker with food, water and ammo.

At 11/12/2008 8:33 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...


It's complete and utter bullshit.

"... How 'bout that war on terror?"


"... NAFTA?"

Double ditto.



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