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On The Importance of Votes

I agree that we the people, and the elected politicians, need to do more than vote. Political protests and education can lead to stronger forms of resistance such as anti-war strikes, resistance by soldiers, and even revolution.

How the politicians are voting is, however, the best indication of what they are thinking. Keeping an eye on those votes and informing the people of them is one more form of political education that can lead to further action by the people as well as pressuring the politicians to back off on certain votes.

How the people vote, until a mass movement changes it, is more of an indication of what people are being told by the corporate media. Those votes of the people are also prone to manipulation through electoral fraud by our corrupt system.

Yet at times votes can have a direct impact. Take for instance the vote in the Turkish parliament to not allow their country to be used as a US military base for the US aggression against Iraq. While this vote was still violated somewhat, it has had an impact by impeding part of the US war plan.

The election of Chavez in Venezuela has helped prevent the privatization of oil that is being pushed by the IMF and the World Bank and has allowed more social programs that benefit the working class and poor of that country.

Even in the United States candidates who challenge the system have had a big impact. Take for instance Eugene Debbs who ran for president as a socialist while he was sitting in jail for his opposition to US entry into the First World War. He got close to a million votes. While Debbs did not win his candidacy must have helped inspire and educate many on the importance of opposing the capitalist world war and opposing the capitalist class in general through the labor movement. Likewise the 2000 candidacy of Nader helped inspire many people to beyond the limits of the “lesser evil” debates within this two party system.

In the last presidential election the majority of the country, including in Florida, voted for Gore. Yet Gore and the Democratic Party were too timid to assert themselves and call for resistance in the face of Bush’s violation of democracy. If Gore had called on the unions who had supported him to go out on a general strike and man the barricades in opposition to the coup d’etat that had taken place, he would most likely be president. But the Democrats would never dream of doing such a thing because they have more in common with the Republicans than they do with the working class that they would be mobilizing.

Yet, the kind of subversions of democracy that took place against the Democrats would be better resisted by a strong socialist party based in the working class because we would not fear mobilizing against the capitalist class and their government. In fact we would use the occasion to bring the struggle to a head and move towards establishing a more Democratic system that abolishes corporate rule, imperialist wars for profit, wage slavery, and want.
 


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