Monday, October 15, 2012
why voting and voting now (post for comment)
last week i presented this question to the class: "are you registered to vote"?
i was really surprised. while some of you are registered, some have actually decided not to vote. some talked about not voting as an "act of protest." the class consensus was: we're very disappointed with both parties and what they represent. in fact there is no difference. they are the same. the argument looks like this:
1- the politics and money problem: after citizens united, corporate interests have taken over the political process.
2- the government/special interests problem: perks, lobbying, campaign contributions, etc.
3- the ongoing secret and overt wars of the US.
4- the US standing regarding "green" issues.
5- obama did not honor his promise to change things. he sold out.
though 1-5 is true to an extent, it's quite naive to suppose that not voting is a decision "outside" the current political system. you're IN the present, INSIDE this milieu.
not voting is a political decision that counts in the becoming of the winner ("winning" is the emergence of a social decision). not voting will not make the problem go away (a "third party" will not necessarily solve it, as pluralism in europe shows). the problem is not the generalities, the problem here is the details. and the devil IS the details!
democracy happens IN time. and time IS change. democracy means self-determination: a fragile, unpredictable, malleable, perfectible, process that is being realized @ each moment. democracy is a subtle (often patient) negotiation between freedoms, rights and equality. and the balance can go one way or the other. in fact, democracy can -and has- turned into its opposite (germany & spain, 1930's, chile, 1970's. there are better and worse moments for america). we're no different.
the paradox of democracy
take the supreme court ruling decision in favor of citizens united. freedom is one of democracy's pillars. yet, it is that very freedom which opens up the possibility of the supreme court ruling in favor of corporations now becoming "persons." what does this mean? that freedoms are crushed by special interests. the paradox is that democracy can create a process of exclusion under the plea to secure its "democratic" character.
democracy secures itself by by restricting itself, thereby threatening its own principles. this is what french philosopher jacques derrida calls autoimmunity of democracy. this constitutive character is structural to democracy & we have to live with it. democracy can go the other way. democracy can subvert itself. these aporias are not aberrations of democracy. they belong in the democratic process.
what to do?
becoming part of the political process is the only way to change this dynamic. abstention, cynicism, is at this particular juncture, equivalent to copping out. it presupposes a false idea of democracy: if "my idea" doesn't come to fruition, i abandon the process.
the charge that both parties are the same is true only in general. let's understand where we live. america is a center leaning nation, it moves left and/or right depending the issues. parties have to accommodate to this fact. true, the process has been partly co-opted, but there is always room for change. that idea you have of the place you want to be in is the idea to fight for. your idea may or may not succeed, but you win nonetheless. what matters is being part of the process of change, the process that opens new possibilities for the future. without your frustration & your struggle for justice, you would have no reasons to fight in the first place. without your struggle there would be no change.
let's find the themes that we care for. it's obvious that each candidate offers different versions of america. if you don't see it you're blind.
what do you really care for as a student, as american, as an individual? education, balancing the budget, political transparency, innovation, jobs, medicare, foreign policy, etc. stop having faith in "candidates." instead, have faith in democracy.
as imperfect as it is, there is no other way to change our lives. it's up to us to make the present (future) better or worse. when you don't choose you choose.
i'll close this post sunday at 11pm.