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by Terri

Jill Stein: Lesser Evil – by Mark E. Smith, Full-Time Election Boycott Activist

9:50 am in Uncategorized by Terri

Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for President of the United Capitalist Imperialist States in 2012, and she certainly appears to be the much lesser evil. Of course Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, know that they can’t win, but their goal is to get on the corporate ballot in as many states as possible and get enough votes to qualify for corporate matching funds. Stein doesn’t want to win the election, and probably wouldn’t be running if she thought that there was any possibility that she’d win. For a Green to become President of the United Corporate Empire would be suicide for both the candidate and the Green Party.

The Green Party is anti-war. A Green Commander-in-Chief would have to make at least a pretense of attempting to stop some of the wars. But that would incur the wrath of every member of Congress, as they all have military bases and defense contractors that provide jobs in their districts, and most are also heavily invested in defense stocks. It would incur the wrath of the Pentagon, the CIA, and every defense contractor in the country. It would incur the wrath of our foreign allies who count on the US to support their dictatorships (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia) or help keep their people suppressed by constantly training terrorists, sending death squads all over the world, and staging false flag operations to keep everyone in a state of fear. Hundreds of countries rely on the US for military aid and derive income for their oligarchies by allowing US military bases on their soil. Stein could posture and gesture about peace, but any effective action would result in her assassination and she knows it. Of course she could compromise her principles and that of her party in order to stay alive and pretend to stay in power, but she couldn’t end the wars. Not that she cares about Green Party principles. One of the Ten Key Values of the Green Party is decentralized government, so it is hypocritical for Greens to run candidates for election in a centralized government.

But in seeking to get on the ballot and get enough votes to qualify for federal matching funds, Stein is helping the big corporations, banks, and defense contractors in their multi-billion dollar campaign to get out the vote for continued corporate rule. The turnout in 2012 will be extremely important. Many people have predicted that it will be a historically low turnout for a US presidential race, due to the fact that the major party candidates are widely disliked, even within their own parties, and there is no possibility of hope or change. Still, whoever is alleged to have been elected will claim their mandate, the consent of the governed, from the entire turnout, not just from their own voters. Every vote for a third party candidate like Stein is the consent of the voter to be governed by the system in power right now, under whoever is alleged to have won the election.

I say alleged because we know for a fact that millions of votes go uncounted in every US presidential election, and that there is no way to verify the results, even if the Supreme Court allows the popular vote to be counted by easily hacked and totally unverifiable central tabulators, most of which this year will be owned by a private corporation in Spain. But people who believe in the system are willing to take the announced results on faith. It doesn’t really matter to them who wins, as long as the capitalist imperialist system continues in power.

So this year it isn’t Democrats or Republicans who are most viciously attacking the Election Boycott Movement, it is Green Party supporters of Jill Stein. If people don’t vote, how will they get their corporate federal matching funds? That’s a lot of money–about forty times what they spend getting out the vote. So what if the drone bombing continues? Greens want that money and they’re not going to let a little genocide stand in their way.

This year, say the Greens, you don’t have to vote for one of the two major evil Party candidates, you can vote for a true lesser evil, somebody who doesn’t intend to win and is in it only for the money–a reluctant imperialist, but a true capitalist.

And those of us in the Election Boycott Movement who don’t intend to vote, who will not grant our consent to the capitalist imperialist system, are now the enemy of the Green Party Get Out The Vote campaign. Sure, they know they’re getting out the vote for capitalist imperialism, for corporate rule, and to show public support for and consent to the system and the corporate party winner, but they have a goal and they’re single-mindedly pursuing it. They want to seek power within the system, by growing their party, and they want to qualify for corporate federal matching funds. They don’t care that the system is a bureaucracy that cannot be changed from within–they seek power and they want to be part of the system anyway. They don’t care that in countries with proportional representation where Greens have gained political power, it has invariably corrupted them. They don’t care about anything except the money.

Capitalism’s lesser evil is still nothing more than a lover of the root of all evil.

Boycott 2012!


by Terri

Should Progressives Boycott The Presidential Elections?

6:46 pm in Uncategorized by Terri

This article first appeared in POLITICAL CONTEXT. The interview  was conducted by Matt J. Stannard with Terri Lee, here:

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” This quote, attributed to Emma Goldman, implies a much more sweeping indictment of the electoral process, in the most generic sense, than that espoused by proponents of boycotting the U.S. Presidential elections. The current movement seems focused on the corruption of major party politics by big money, voter suppression, and electoral fraud. Two current sources of arguments against participating in elections are the “Vote for Nobody Campaign” and the Facebook group “Boycott the 2012 Presidential Election.” The former site is light on content, and seems largely designed around the sale of Gary Chartier’s book The Conscience of an Anarchist: Why It’s Time to Say Goodbye to the State and Build a Free Society. The latter group explains:

Whereas both major political parties have sold out to the Wall Street banks and multinational corporations with no allegiance to the Nation or the people, Whereas third parties have no possibility of winning the Presidential election due to corporate control over the media and the electoral process, Whereas three decades of solid efforts to reform the electoral process have been subverted by the corporate state, Whereas participation in this process lends legitimacy to a system that has lost its legitimacy, We hereby refuse to vote in the 2012 Presidential elections.

So it seems that the substance of the anti-electoral position is limited to (1) bourgeois, major-party candidates, in (2) the Presidential (as opposed to more local) elections. The question is whether boycotting the elections is a viable alternative political strategy. In order to explore this question, I talked to Terri Lee, a veteran activist for economic justice and co-administrator of the group “Declare Your Independence from the Democrats!” Terri is also a member of the Boycott Elections Facebook group mentioned above.

POLITICALCONTEXT.ORG: Why should American citizens boycott the 2012 Presidential elections?

Terri Lee: Boycotting the presidential elections would be a notable act of rebellion and defiance. The Establishment effectively draws in the public and engages them in the ‘horse show’ and political theater of elections. Voting serves them, not us. They work and invest millions to keep us attached to an immoral, rigged, corrupt, electoral process which is both a scam and a sham. I support Wally Conger’s Anti-Electorate Manifesto: “We, the Anti-Electorate, do not believe there is a need for “strong leadership” in government. We are not drawn to ‘intellectual’ authorities and political ‘heroes.’ We are not impressed with titles, ranks, and pecking orders – politicians, celebrities, and gurus. We do not struggle for control of organizations, social circles, and government. We do not lobby the State for favors or permission to control those with whom we disagree. Rather, we advocate freedom. By its very nature, the State does not. Exercise your right to say ‘No’ to the warfare-welfare system. Refuse to vote. Then tell your friends why.”

PC: Should citizens boycott only the Presidential elections? What about candidates down ballot? Senators? Representatives?

TL: Well, the presidential elections garner a lot of attention and so it could be very effective if registered voters resisted going to the polls as a loud, clear form of protest. Voters could publicly burn their voter registration cards and expose the system for the corrupt system that it is. We can deem it unworthy of our participation. We could demonstrate the integrity of the collective by refusing our participation and resist.

PC: Even more to the point: Should I vote for my city council candidates, local judges, public hospital board members, and school board members? Why them and not the President of the United States? What’s the bright line?

TL: Here’s something to consider. Let’s take electing your local mayor. The mayor lives in your community. You may see him or her at your local grocery store, gas station, post office, school or park. You live and work with one another and you share a community. It’s easy to have access to your mayor — you can go to his or her office. If residents are upset, the mayor has to face the outraged citizens rather directly and intimately. The farther out you go the more distant, detached, insulated the elected official is. Citizens have to use their own judgment on this, of course, but it seems to me that for where we are now loud public resistance to the presidential elections is a good place to start.

PC: Let me play devil’s advocate: The Obama administration will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. A Republican administration would. Under Obama’s health care reform, a few million people might have a better chance of accessing life-saving medical treatment. Under a Republican administration, that won’t happen. Aren’t you sacrificing gay rights and sick people on the altar of political purism? Aren’t you saying “sure it’s okay if a few hundred thousand people die, or there are fewer civil rights for gays, as long as I make my politically purist point?” How would you answer arguments like that?

TL: Well, I don’t agree with the premise of your question regarding the Democrats and the Republicans, but I understand your point. It seems to me that you are suggesting that it is slightly more important to vote Democrat than to vote Republican due to that thin bit of difference — so, why not just go to the polls and pull the lever for the Democrats because it could do ‘some good’ for ‘some people’. So if you calculate a ‘least harm’ and ‘most benefit’ ratio, hold your nose and just vote Democrat, yes? I turn to journalist Glenn Greenwald who most eloquently expresses my view on this (not about not-voting, but rather about the point that it’s ‘slightly better to vote Democrat than Republican so be a reluctant voter and vote Democrat’):

GREENWALD: You know there’s abeen lots of people who make radical critiques of hte government who — like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and others — who have said ‘as horrible as the Democrats are the fact that they are even a little bit better than the Republicans means that it’s important that they win and not Republicans because with an entity as powerful as the United States governmetn even small differences can make meaningful differences in the lives of millions of people.’

And so even though there’s tiny little differences between Democrats and Republicans — and they’re both evil and corrupt in their own ways — that it’s important to continue to elect Democrats, they’ve argued.

That to me was an argument that was somewhat persuasive — for awhile.

And what I’ve actually decided and concluded instead was that even if there are short-term benefits to electing Democrats — as opposed to Republicans — so you get a Sonya Sotomayor on the Supreme Court instead of an Antonio Scalia, for example — something like that.

That’s a benefit that’ll sway some case and it’s bettr [inaudible]….um, there’s also experent costs to pledging your loyalty to a political party and to contine to support it even though it’s in this extremely corrupt and destructive expression.

And so it’s not just the benefit that needs to be weighed, it’s the cost as well, knowing — as party leaders do — that many liberals are convinced (and that many people on the left are convniced) by this reasoning [the Democrats] can continue to ignore people on the left, because they know that at the end of the day they’ll scare enough of them to with scary images of Michele Bachman or Newt Gingrich or whomever…they’ll continue to support [the Democrats] even though they’re ignored adn they get nothing.

And they’ll be ignored and get nothing forever.

That’s a huge cost.

Another cost is the opportunity cost of doing activism for a political party that doesn’t care at all about you.

Instead of using your money and time on more meaningful changes.


So that, I think, is the ultimate formula that needs to be evaluated. The ultimate weighing of costs and benefits that needs to be assessed — not just ‘well, there are some beneifts to the Democrats, therefore let’s vote for them.”

[Ask, too] what are the costs from continuing to support and prop up this party and having them know that they can take the support for granted and putting our time and energy into that rather that something more significant that can achieve something more enduring and more fundamental with longer-lasting benefits.

And so that’s the calculation that, to me, has swayed me away from that view [of Zinn and Chomsky].

PC: What about third party candidates (e.g. the various socialists) who admit the Presidential elections are largely meaningless in the substantive sense, but who run candidates for President in order to take advantage of the electoral process in order to get the message out about their party, their beliefs, the crisis of capitalism, etc.? In boycotting Presidential elections, are you also “boycotting” the way in which those third party candidates use the elections as a platform for their message?

TL: The third party candidates can still campaign — in fact, that’s their function in this scam of a system: to simply run. In their campaigning they expose the injustices in the system and the seriously flawed positions of the candidates. And, at the end of the day that’s about it. Inherent in the system design (including the domination of corporate monies) third parties and third party candidates are unable to establish an alternate party or see a candidate to victory. We know it, the third party candidates know it and The Establishment knows it too. Boycotting presidential elections does no harm to them because there was no chance for victory from the onset.

PC: What reforms of the electoral process, specifically, would have to happen before you’d stop calling for the boycott?

TL: We would need to take out all the elements referenced by Noam Chomsky when he speaks of presidential politics (paraphrased) as: “the big-money big-media candidate-centered narrow-spectrum electoral extravaganza the masters stage for us once every four years”. Simply put, we have to get the corporate money out of elections, level the playing field, implement publicly-funded elections, and institute Instant-Runoff (IRV) voting. (And while we’re at it and dreaming a bit, a parliamentary government with proportional representation would certainly be a step in the right direction.)

PC: If voting makes no difference, why does refusing to vote make a difference? How is your gesture any less symbolic and meaningless than voting?

TL: Excellent question! Voting is the status quo. It’s desirable to The Establishment to have us follow these silly elections, to have us believe in the illusion of choice, and to have the public think “that’s politics” and busy ourselves with phone banking, fundraising, canvassing, etc which is all FOR THEM! Intentionally, purposefully, and loudly not-voting is an act of defiance. A refusal to partake in the immoral, illegal, corporate dominated, money-serving system in which voters are pawned.

Refuse to partake. Refuse to vote. Declare abstinence from the corrupt system that they designed and want to draw us into. How liberating! Let there be a ballot-box revolt in which all the polling stations are empty and quiet on Election Day 2012!