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. 


Justine Pezet said...

When it comes to voting I stand as a student, and a citizen of our community that will be a part of defining our future. The people who don't want to vote are also people of our community, who should have a saying in the way they want our country to be ruled, and yet they leave it to other people to decide so then they can be the first people to complain if something doesn't go their way. These kind of people complain against corruption, war and taxes and they believe that even if they vote nothing will change. Every decision we make involves politics, for example not watching the news to know what is going on with the war overseas, learning about our candidates and paying taxes on that new Iphone, even when deciding not to vote you are being a part of politics. Very courageous people fought in this country to have freedom, a government and democracy. They stated that the government is for the people by the people, but the people got to comfortable letting other people do the work for us, so it is our responsibility to make the government work for us again.
Justine Pezet

atRifF said...

let's not comment here. my bad. i opened the slots for each class.

Loretta Williamson said...

Loretta Thompkins
Prof. Perez-Triff
Philosophy 2010
October 21, 2012

Why voting and voting now
I disagree with the perception that both parties are the same, being a register voter myself. My belief in general is that time takes time. The facts is when president Obama, took the job as commander in change for this country there were many things that had gone wrong within this society. For example, the country were in a recession, many of our soldiers were killed or still held overseas as result of the 911 tragic , gas prices had sky rocketed beyond belief due to the war and so on. For this reason I believe the president should be voted in another term to complete what he says he would do. The facts are there is too much that has to be fixed in this country and it cannot be done in one term. On the other hand, Mitt Romney may have a good business sense, but I do not believe he has the best interest in heart for the middle or lower class citizens.

Anonymous said...

Many people keep complaining about how the government is a complete failure, but if you do your part and vote, you can make a change in the government system. Americans should have the ability to vote and voice their opinion but a lot of us do not take advantage of freedom of speech. Voting is your opinion on paper that could make a change in America on how a leader runs this country. It is our responsibility as citizens to elect officials that we feel will be honest. These officials need to help make our country better and a safer place. We Americans hope that all individuals will take the opportunity to vote and not just sit back and complain about who is in office. Around voting season, you can only vote one time, so it is very important that you do your research on the individual that you are voting to run this country. We as people cannot count anybody to take care of us and if you want to make a difference ... Vote. Amarilis Martinez

Roberto Joseph said...

14th Amendment– All persons born within the U.S. are citizens and guaranteed rights and privileges (1868)
15th Amendment– No citizen denied the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude (1870)

as president John Kennedy said," Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country"? this statement mean to me, knowing the fact that the president knew we have the opportunity to be heard on paper and that the amendment of the country gives us the right to make the choice of this country's leaders through voting. it is a right and a duty to vote as american because we are all care and want the best for this country whether immigrants like me or not. As much as I would like to cast my vote during this election but unfortunately I don't have that right yet as non-american resident. I would like to encourage everyone who has a voting card to cast your vote for it means your opinions and decisions and your personal choice for the better future of this country and the upcoming generation.

Roberto Joseph

Naima Mompoint said...

I vote as a student who want to pursuit my education. But, if someone is undecided go by your heart and think about all the issue there is in the country and how a candidate can solved some of them. Sincerely, i hope everybody go and vote, but do not regret your vote because i won't.

Anonymous said...

Berlisa Knowles said,
We as Anericans should appreciate having the right to vote. I'm grateful to be living in a country that lets the people decide. Whoever becomes the next president was selected by the people of the United States of America. Your vote count and we should not take our right to vote for granted.

Eddy said...

What if someone thinks neither of the candidates are fit for the position after doing their research? What would you guys suggest?