A reoccurring theme at the Occupy Wall Street protests has been that it is the entire representative system that has been bought up by corporate America. Both parties have been proponents of deregulation, tax loop-holing, preferring the interests of the rich over the poor and consistently opposing environmental regulations that could impact big business. These policies are clearly the result of political influence wielded within both parties by lobbyists representing the 1%. It is not that the OWS movement is a-political but rather that they have come to the conclusion that there is no point in supporting anyone in either party as both fail miserably in representing the interests of the 99%, doing so consciously and willingly.
Similarly, in Israel, none of the major parties represent interests wildly different from one another. Likud, Kadima, Avodah, Shas and Israel Beyteinu have all bought into the same neo-liberal fallacies. Besides each party pursuing their shallow sectarian agenda, they all willingly participate in the privatization-fest. No one has made any real effort to resist the big business lobbies, the real estate developers, the employment contractors. Opposition to all these policies has been popular for long but have not been pursued. The same empty rhetoric is rehashed every election cycle only to be abandoned even before the last ballot is counted. Each party hides behind their (slightly) different positions vis-à-vis the Palestinians whiles ignoring their responsibility to give its citizens a choice about how the country is run.
It is with similar cynicism that we are cajoled into continuing the same voting patterns that have led us no-where by being told to vote for the lesser evil. “I know that (insert politician) isn’t great but if you don’t vote for her, (insert different politician) will get to power and that would make things even worse.” As Chris Hedges recently pointed out, “Our political class, and its courtiers on the airwaves, insists that if we refuse to comply, if we step outside of the Democratic Party, if we rebel, we will make things worse. This game of accepting the lesser evil enables the steady erosion of justice and corporate plundering.” The result is that nothing changes for the better. The same failed politicians stay in power and much more significantly, voters lose their belief in democracy as a means of fairly representing their concerns. It is this voter cynicism and apathy that is like a deadly cancer to Democracy. The less people feel invested in the democratic process, the less they participate, the less they vote , leaving the special interest groups to promote their selfish limited agendas while more and more people forget that they are part of a social group with shared responsibilities and a duty to look out for one another. It is this cynicism that allows us to forget that our society must reflect our values and when it does not , that that is a failure on our part. Claiming a lack of interest or participation does not absolve us of that responsibility.
Voting should be a moral exercise and never a tactical one. More than anything else, what has caused me to vote for the Green Movement and become a dues paying member is that it comes closest to matching my world view. As I’ve said before, environmentalism is the new socialism. Not less importantly, it has strong, functioning democratic institutions. Neither the fact that the Green Movement was not elected to parliament during the last elections, nor the likelihood of it getting elected in the future should influence your support. Whomever you vote for, you should do so because you are voting for the ideas and policies represented by them and not against those of another. You should vote for those you identify with and not those you are familiar with and used to voting for. Voting should not be a knee-jerk reaction. You should vote for what you believe is good. Democracy should be a moral, ongoing exercise that allows us to live together despite our differences and not a zero sum game where one group gets ahead and the rest get punked.
- Bram Spiero