I woke up today and checked Facebook like I often do and to my dismay, I was disgusted by people gloating over voting for Hillary. It was quite obvious to me that they had not done their homework at arriving at their decision. Not long after that, I came across a video of a well-known documentary producer who used to support Bernie Sanders but now supports Hillary Clinton talking about the atrocities occurring at Standing Rock and all over the country. He was decrying the neo-liberal agenda, never making the connection that this agenda is currently represented by none other than Hillary Clinton. After viewing these various posts, my mood soured as anger arose to the surface of my being. At that moment I realized that I am sick of the intellectual arrogance and hypocrisy of liberals who are against the neo-liberal agenda, but continue to vote for neo-liberals, while shaming us progressives for actually voting for progressives like Jill Stein! My anger arose because of the stupidity that I witnessed this morning and other times this past year and beyond. It is totally insane when people vote against what they value over and over again! It is as if we are a country that worships willful ignorance.
When I started to think about all of the people out there casting votes out of ignorance, these thoughts came to me: If you don’t take voting seriously, please don’t vote. If you are going to vote for the wrong reasons, you are likely going to help make things worse. If you are voting just to feel good, you’ll likely be contributing to suffering. If you are voting to say that you helped make history, stay home and contribute to making a direct difference in your family’s or your friends’ lives, instead. If you are voting to keep Trump or Hillary out of office, don’t bother. Your lack of vision is only going to contribute to the maintenance of the conventional way of doing things which, if you haven’t noticed, is destroying the planet. Stop voting for the wrong reasons! If you are not questioning your motivation for voting, you are part of the problems we face.
To vote out of ignorance does nothing but help the moneyed interests, who spend a hefty sum in order to promote their agenda. In my lifetime, I have seen so many good ideas and candidates go down in defeat because people buy into the fear tactics of the status quo. As a result, we exemplify the adage that if you do the same thing over and over again but expect different results, you are crazy. This is most notably demonstrated by the people who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, but then went on to support Hillary Clinton, once she “defeated” Bernie (Don’t get me started on how she cheated her way to the nomination). Bernie was incredibly popular because people desperately wanted the change he advocated. Yet once their hero succumbed to the establishment, where did all these supporters go? Some understood what the Bernie movement was all about and moved over to support the most prominent progressive left, Jill Stein. Others, though, supported Hillary out of blind allegiance to Bernie’s endorsement of her or blind allegiance to “conventional wisdom” (i.e., the idea that only two candidates have a “realistic” chance to win).
Those who believe that only the Democratic or Republican candidates have a chance to win obviously have not done any research to discover that there are actually four candidates (including Jill Stein and Gary Johnson) who are on enough state ballots in which they can win enough electoral votes to become president (There’s four additional candidates who could win enough electoral votes, but only if they win states in which they are write-in candidates). If you don’t know what I am talking about in this paragraph, look it up!
Berners who are voting for Clinton because Bernie said to do so are either following the cult of personality or else they are being intellectually lazy by ignoring the fact that Hillary is against most of what Bernie fought for. In either case, their actions only promote the establishment, resulting in the further destruction of our society and planet.
In light of what I have witnessed this past year, I am amazed that some people are unwilling to acknowledge that we have a social-political-economic system mired in corruption! This means that every piece of information that you receive needs to be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb because it could be propaganda. Just because you read an article does not mean that it is true. Just because you watched a video does not mean it is true. Just because a government official said something does not mean that it is true. Just because you submitted your ballot does not mean your vote will be counted. Just because you registered to vote does not mean you will be given a ballot. Yet, I see people relying on the word of “authorities” instead of applying simple logic to arrive at conclusions; I see people citing questionable sources of information as proof that a piece of propaganda is true.
While it is difficult if not impossible to research every piece of information that comes your way, through the research that you do perform, you can gradually get a sense of what sources of information are consistently reliable and which are not. For instance, I have found that Wikileaks has a very good track record of providing reliable information. That doesn’t mean I blindly believe everything they put out, but it does mean that I can use its information in conjunction with my own research to come up with pretty solid (though never 100%) conclusions.
Research takes time and effort, though. We all have busy lives, of course. Nevertheless, if you take voting seriously, you will find the time to do the necessary research. If you don’t take voting seriously, please don’t vote! I know this goes against the mantra we were taught since we were young. The establishment has always encouraged people to vote. The more people that vote, the more legitimate are the results of an election, after all. But if you are in power, isn’t it risky to encourage people to vote when they might vote you out of office? Yes! That’s why the powers that be perform (gasp!) election fraud in various forms to reduce if not eliminate that risk. We the people cooperate with this fraud through our laziness: not employing critical thinking and not doing any research. Therefore, an easy and effective way to rig elections is simply to use the media to promote establishment candidates while suppressing the promotion of revolutionary candidates. In our laziness we rely on pundits to do our thinking for us and provide news that is “relevant.” The establishment media’s job is to get the electorate to focus on a single issue or two (of the establishment’s picking) so that they will vote in a more predictable fashion.
But voting for candidates based on their positions on issues is flawed. While a candidate can promote a certain platform or agenda, nobody has all the answers to the problems we face, nor can anybody anticipate all the problems that we may face. So how do we choose the best candidate given so much uncertainty? The answer is to vote for the person with the best character. It behooves each of us to vote for candidates with the most integrity and who stand for principles that benefit us all. While character is reflected in where a candidate stands on issues, it is not enough to just look at political positions. It is more important to understand what motivates candidates because this understanding will give us a good idea how they will act in office when faced with unforeseen circumstances and opportunities. If someone has a history of being trustworthy, he will most likely act in a trustworthy manner while in office. If a person has a history of being deceitful or greedy, then these characteristics will likely be revealed if he is elected.
So, when we have poll after poll indicating that the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are the least liked in history, why on Earth would people vote for them when it is clear that they have problems with their character? What does it say about a voter’s character when he votes for somebody that he can’t stand (especially when there is a more suitable alternative)? At best, it shows that the voter is not employing critical thought. At worst, it says that the voter has no integrity when it comes to voting. Is it any wonder then that we have corruption in government?
Government will always reflect its constituency. If we want an ethical government, then we each must act with integrity in everything we do, including voting for the candidates that match our deeply held values, regardless of how those around us vote. If we don’t live authentically, we are supporting and encouraging continued corruption in government! It’s really that simple. Acting ethically is not always easy, though. It takes effort. If you are consistently following the crowd, you will not likely act with integrity because the mob mentality is usually reactive as it caters to our selfish interests. Ethical action, on the other hand, requires being consciously aware of more than yourself. It is not done in order to look good. Ethical action is done for its own sake, which inevitably results in the betterment of all.
So I beg of you, look at your own motivation for deciding who to vote for. Make sure your motivation is to enhance this world. Ask yourself which decision will benefit the world the most if that decision is victorious on Election Day and vote that way. Remember, we don’t need people to vote. We need people to apply critical thinking and vote with integrity so that we have a government full of people with integrity that will beneficially serve their constituents and contribute to the well-being of the world at large!