Yeah, the topic that makes liberals pull their hair out...
Because in their eyes, "if only" they could just "educate" everyone into understanding that they have the best interest of the majority at heart, and it's that pesky shaggy and scooby (aka the Republican Party) that keep hindering their true promise to fix all of the absurd inequities that are central to our oligarchical system of government.
Newsflash: A real program speaks for itself. Compare your program with one of ours, a guaranteed income of $1000.00 per month, per citizen (est 2.5 trillion yearly paid for by capital gains tax increases) and imagine the political beat down if the elections were open competitions of ideas. Against a competition of serious power to the majority at the expense of elite minorities, there is little chance that either the Democratic or Republican Party would have to compete against a competition that could by far outdeliver a higher quality of life to the majority. Of course, this cannot happen. Because the elections process is structurally rigged to prevent popular benefits from ever being delivered at the expense of minority power. And what is to be done about this problem has always been the core political question lurking beneath all of the masking tape and make up of U.S. political history.
I have been playing rhetorically and testing this idea out in the classroom for most of this year, and above all other theoretical examples that are kicked around for how to end the problems of concentrated power, imperial viciousness and aggression, and everything that derives from those two things, that the best play on the political chessboard at this time is to boycott the elections. It's been written and pushed about by Terri Lee and others, and does seem to be picking up some steam on facebook (link)
Naturally, we all have our theories about what to do--as we all have our theories of what the problems are in the first place. Outside of the official channels of power, we live in a sea of noise when it comes to advancing an alternative. Some want to take over the Democratic Party, some want to, run 3rd parties, some want to have occupations, some want decentralized attacks, and on and on. If any one of these ideas could amass enough people on the same page at the same time--they are all, almost equally valued ideas. So sure, if you could get 50 million people to register for the Democratic Party, meet online, and take over every level of government from dog catcher on up. And obviously, if you ran a 3rd party, and everyone coalesced around that, then this too would bring about a massive alteration of the relations of power in society.
So why, of all the options, does the boycott line carry the most efficient punch?
Who gets to define what a collective group thinks EVER? There is never a serious scientific reflection that allows a party, or organization to actually speak for a collective group. Yet they do it--because the illusion of it is the thing itself. When the right wing wins an election in the 90s, they always had a tag line that they were winning because the Dems were "too liberal". This was preposterous, but it carried high propaganda value because the right wing had won the elections. When you run and lose, you can only provide an excuse for why you didn't win. If you run and openly admit you cannot win because the game is rigged, then you have much better positioning at the end. And, since we already know the numbers of the non vote, we get to determine why they are holding out--even if they have the multi variate reasons that would always apply to individuals. But politics is never about individuals, it's always about millions of people in groups added up. And there is always going to need to be a signal strong enough to override the noise. And the left LOVES making noise, because it allows all of us to feel smart and have our own ideas, and be unique and special individuals (One irony of Randian right wing ideology is the obsession with individualism, but the left is nothing BUT cat-fighting individualism and eccentric individuals colliding, while the right has the groupthink down to a science), and there are voices (like mine) that recognize the problem with the lack of a unified signal, but nobody has been able to really impress upon everyone the importance of groupthink in terms of having FAST social networks. And power is important. But Speed is equally important in my view.
The Order of Operations.
Ultimately, this CAN lead to either a 3rd party or a new constitution or whatever grand ass level of home run any one of the millions of people who think long and hard on issues like this could come up with. But In the order of operations, getting a same page/same time chant provides much better bang for the buck in my view than the other available options in regards to elections. It provides us a longer time frame--which we need because our media speed is slower, and is a highly defensive position, which we can strike out from at our own pacing--instead of reacting to the pace of the sham election cycle established by business elites and private media. But there is an order to any political fight, and anticipating what your opponent will do is crucial.
Ultimately, my ideal order of operations is that we slowly spread the boycott message. Some people have expressed a desire to ACTIVELY boycott. Drive around with art cars, posters, hold demos, etc... This is fine, and I think for motivated boycotters, this will help. However, I am not planning to do much of this, and there is another camp which should blend in much more firmly in the background of the ordinary working class non voter. No fan fare, just a simple non vote. This will create enough diversity of styles of non votes to help establish the positioning I would like to have for 2013.
After the elections, the boycott's propaganda value will be whatever it is. I can't anticipate the viral qualities of these sorts of things. But even if it is bottled up, it still carries enough weight. If it does go viral, this only speeds things ups for us. So putting that down as an unknown, we can still basically follow the same line of strategy.
Effectively, we can anticipate that a large majority of the population will stay home. This will be effectively a base for us. The Party loyalists will repeat nursery rhymes and slogans that they teach 11th graders, that a non vote cedes power to the elected government. This is easy enough to counter, though we will hear it repeatedly (making it no more true than the first time you heard it) with a variation on the line by George Carlin that people who vote have no right to complain. Ultimately, it's one platitude versus the next, and their interpretation is of equal arbitrary declarative value. Of course, a wash in this debate is a win for us because we are in a much more marginal position at the moment and can only see our position improve with an organized debasement of our archaic political institutions like the Supreme Court and the Senate.
Ultimately, and naturally, the non vote gives you the best medium term (2-5 years) positioning in what will almost certainly be a massive propaganda battle that will hinge mostly on speed, depth and quality of message, and the ability of the base to be activated in smart and easy ways to take action and control. It will dovetail with almost any left campaign for a guaranteed income, abolition of the senate, an expanded house of representatives, and other immediate and transition reforms which provide us room to build and reward a political base with monetary power, while they support our ability to change the institutions to more widely distribute political power.