Electoralism has failed us

Voting will work this year! Until it inevitably does nothing again. Photo courtesy of Pexels


I don’t know about you, reader, but I am getting severe deja vu. Election season is upon us, and the sense of this happening before is incredibly strong — because it literally did, four years ago. Those times were confusing and frustrating: we were in the middle of the pandemic, with people refusing to take a vaccine because they feared it would implant a chip into them that they thought could be tracked. They would of course tweet about this with the device that is actually used to track them. 

Times have not gotten less confusing or less frustrating. It seems four years have elapsed in a blur. Failures by the lesser of two evils are numerous: protecting access to abortion? Nope. Stabilizing the economy? Sorry, he’s too tired. Stop funding genocide in an apartheid state? He’ll drop aid packages on the rubble instead

Already, I feel the pulse of my “vote blue no matter who” readers increasing. The mere suggestion that a vote of a non-conservative would not be going to Joe Biden is the stuff of nightmares for them. In their eyes, this would lead to Donald Trump rising to power once again, which cannot be allowed to happen. 

Junior political science major Nick Chinn sees this change in voting. 

“I feel that voting as a general idea is a great way to jump-start change,” Chinn said. “But the way it has changed in the U.S. has gone from, ‘If you don’t like what your elected person is doing, then elect someone else,’ [to] a lot of fear-mongering [to] keep the power away from people I don’t like.” 

This is the central tenet of modern American electoralism. There are two viable choices that will actually win; it is futile to vote for anyone else. However, these choices are less than ideal, and most people know this. But, to some, voting for one takes a vote from the other, which is well worth it for the liberal conscience. 

Don’t get me wrong: Donald Trump is an awful leader, a fraudulent businessman, a misogynist, most certainly a racist and undoubtedly represents the most ugly parts of America. I don’t want Joe Biden in office, but to be fair to my Democrat folks, I would want Trump in office much less. 

Junior finance major Josh Cann shares my view and adds another complication. 

“I don’t think Biden really represents who I am,” Cann said. “But Trump definitely doesn’t. In theory, [third parties] are great, but in terms of where we exist today in American politics, they just don’t have a meaningful impact on what actually happens in government, so you’re just stuck with those two guys.” 

This is a common view shared by many Americans: third parties can’t ever win an election. But this has been propagandized into the American consciousness and consequently, third parties are made inviable because everyone is afraid to vote for them. Their viability has nothing to do with how well they would represent the people, or what they could actually get done. 

Electoralism, with this two-party paradigm in place, has led to absolutely no real progress. Despite how it felt in the Obama years for many white liberals, racism was not solved or even improved. Wages have been stagnant since the mid-70s. Progress through the main two parties seems impossible, even with the promises of Democrats. 

To me, their promises ring hollow, because they don’t follow the will of the people, but rather the will of the lobbyist. 60% of Americans want a ceasefire in Gaza, 63% want universal healthcare, 63% want tuition-free college, and yet none of this will happen. This is because the will of our politicians is already bought: whether it is by foreign powers, nameless, faceless corporations or the wealthiest individuals. So voting for more of these bought politicians does nothing but further remove our voice. 

Alexandria Archer, a junior psychology-criminology major, emphasizes that I’m not alone in feeling this way. 

“I don’t think politicians are in it for the [greater good],” Archer said. “In the U.S. they’re there for power; they’re not there for democracy. They’re not there to listen to the citizens. I definitely think there should be a way politicians don’t have much power or [we] make sure that they’re listening to us citizens.” 

So what do we do if the one system intended to give the people a voice actually marginalizes that voice? 

The word that immediately comes to mind is “organize”. Those who seek to profit off of your existence and needs as a human being are incredibly organized: into governments, into corporations, into Super PACS. We have to do the same to combat them. 

Strikes and boycotts will have to be the central actions of the people at first. It is easy to prove that without the workers, corporations would be nothing and would generate no value. Boycotts hit at the other end because without their precious profits, what would lobbyists use to fuel their corruption? 

This is obviously not something that will be easy to do or it would’ve happened already. There are almost unlimited resources at the top to stop this from happening. However, despite electoralism’s failures in regard to presidential and congressional candidates, there is still something we can do in the meantime that would not be as extreme of a measure. 

We must move away from representative democracy and get rid of the Electoral College. Not only does the Electoral College make voting feel pointless for those who don’t live in swing states, but it also preserves power for the two main parties. If we fight to change our voting system to a true democracy, meaning a popular vote, the landscape of elections would be incredibly different. 

If not true democracy, there is also ranked-choice voting, which can give the third parties true viability. In this system, you would be able to vote for a third party without having the guilt that you would be giving a vote to what you view as the greater of the two evils. 

Electoralism is not entirely useless, despite my hyperbolic title, as it can pass things locally that can change people’s lives materially. I recently voted in my native Ohio to put access to legal abortion in the state’s constitution, to legalize marijuana and to give 10% of the annual state budget to a council of citizens from a variety of backgrounds. Voting is important because of measures like these. 

However, if presidential and congressional voting stays controlled by lobbyists and by propaganda, its usefulness decreases with every moment. We must change how this voting works, and work on measures to increase worker control of the economy in order to prevent lobbying. 

If these goals are accomplished, it will not automatically guarantee that we suddenly live in a utopia, but it will certainly improve the material conditions of everyone’s lives greatly. Having access to healthcare and education, while not funding war with our tax dollars, will be the beginning to a positive increase in the American body and consciousness.


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