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The Election Question- Broken Record


Here (pasted in below) is the question I get asked every other day via e-mail around this time every four years, when people get as drawn to the election as mice to a new big chunk of cheese (my standard broken-record answer to the question follows…I don’t bother via e-mail with my strategic analysis)

“Hello Mr. Street:”

“First of all, thank you for being someone whom I believe speaks.the truth, apparently because it's there and somebody f-ing has to say it. Because of your writings, I don't believe in either of the two business puppet parties. Sorry to bother you with this, but who would you suggest a person vote for, if that person is concerned about the environment and generally all that is good?”

“Thanks for whatever you can let me know.”

“Regards,
XXXXXXX”

My usual answer, straight out of Chomsky:

Hi XXXXXXX:

Thanks for reading my stuff and for your kind comments. Really, I'd suggest joining or forming a left and environmentalist organization and seeking to build that organization's capacity to the point where it and other like minded movement groups can challenge the business and imperial elite's dominance of politics and policy. No small task but and a much worthier form of serious progressive politics than whatever one decides to do with the very limited choices offered in the electoral system. I’m guessing that you know that the Green Party has a progressive and environmentalist agenda. You should also know that the Green Party has no chance of victory under the current elections system in the U.S. and that a vote for the Green presidential candidate instead of Obama in a contested state like Ohio could help Romney (of course a vote for the Libertarian candidate instead of Romney could help Obama). This is the system and it’s not going to be replaced by a genuine multiparty democracy or by real popular sovereignty between now and the first Tuesday next November. Personally, I think it matters to block the radical Republicans in contested states. In uncontested states, one can vote for a left party (e.g. the Greens) with little fear of helping the GOP. At the same time, I think the voting theme is overdone and that the real politics that matters is about popular movement-building every day, not just one day every four years. The rank and file politics that matters is beneath and beyond what Chomsky calls "the quadrennial electoral extravaganza." I think it is idiotic to fetishize the election in any kind of way, including third party or anti-electoral/anti-voting sorts of ways. Still, droves of leftists do in fact childishly fetishize the spectacle every four years, inflicting wounds on each other over how to respond to the narrow and limited choices. That just plays into the hands of the ruling class in a divide-and-conquer sort of way.

Best,

Paul Street

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