Not everyone who is dissatisfied with the bourgeois duopoly is turning toward alternative parties like the Greens or various socialist parties. Some are calling for a boycott of the presidential elections, modeled after boycotts of elections by groups in other countries.
The group has its own Facebook page, and frequently posts on various political web sites.
The boycott movement sometimes factually incorrect in its dismissal of alternative parties like the Greens, SPUSA, or other parties. The boycott movement assumes those parties are under the illusion that they can win presidential elections without significant electoral reform, but there’s no evidence any of those parties harbor such an illusion: Those parties aren’t campaigning “to win,” and most of their representatives would agree that the system is deeply corrupt. Campaigning, however, provides a rallying point and the opportunity to publicize the issues presented by the alternative party. Also, campaigning on a national ticket provides the opportunity to help state and local candidates, who can sometimes ride the momentum of a particularly successful national run; this is one of the reasons the Greens have over 200 elected officials around the country.
Nevertheless, the group is fairly consistent in its message. We recently asked some of its representatives to answer some of our questions, and this is what they said:
1. Are you calling for a boycott of ALL elections (eg local races, non-presidential national races) or just the Presidential election?
“I would boycott all National Offices including President. Local races are the most important at this time. Local representatives are less likely to be influenced by big money.”
“I would call on people to boycott national races.”
“People who hold local or city offices live and work among the people. Constituents have access to them. Oftentimes we see our mayor in the store, at school functions, at community gatherings. It is easy to make an appointment with your mayor and/or attend a Town Hall meeting. Mayors typically simultaneously have jobs and also serve their community as an elected official. Not to say there is not corruption and power-plays at this level — but when you live and work among the people you serve it’s a totally different matter. The higher up the positon goes the greater the disconnect from the people you are (supposedly) serving.”
“Also, I feel that local voting results are more likely to be genuine and reflect the vote of the community. It’s not tainted by big power and millions of corporate dollars like the office of POTUS. It’s too small and insignificant (with regards to power and influence) for the corporate entities and laws to taint results. When a group or individual is not powerful and not a threat to the corporate state — you and/or your group is left alone. There’s a type of indifference. The office of POTUS is high stakes to Wall Street and the monied elite that are part of the global economy. They are going to make sure they get in who they want. The top brass 1%ers will see to it that they get in who best serves their corporate interests. It’s a different ballgame all together at the local level.”
“Simply, there is a greater concentration of wealth and power at the top and so there is more invested in the control and orchestration of that wealth and power — ordinary citizens have been factored out. We matter and count more at the local level (and you might scream at your mayor in the grocery store!) but at the top, it’s a game we are excluded from.”
2. What empirical evidence do you offer to support your contention that “the whole process is a fraud” rather than simply that there is SOME disenfranchisement and SOME vote manipulation or suppression? Can you offer indedendent support for the assertion that some elite cabal controls the ENTIRE election process?
“The fraud part is mainly the effect of big money from corporations. Which will donate to BOTH parties…who will then represent the corporations and will exclude the people. Have you seen The Inside Job? Since 1980, Wall Street has owned the Congress. Now Blue Dog Dems make it even harder for Dems to have a majority…they vote with Republicans frequently!”
“I don’t believe some “elite cabal” controls the electoral process. But the higher up you go, the more remote the candidates are from popular control, and the more likely they are representatives of the ruling class and its interests. As for the presidential race, it’s impossible for someone who isn’t a representative of the ruling class even to become a serious contender. I would further add that the power concentrated in the executive branch of the U.S. government is illegitimate, and that our goal should be to oppose it and work to dismantle it. This goal cannot and will not be reached by competing for it.”
3. Is it your position that there is NO difference between the Democrats and Republicans, or is it your position that any differences which DO exist between those parties are overwhelmed by their similarities?
“There is historically a large difference between the 2…but currently that difference has dwindled to next to nothing in the economic sense. Case in point…Obamacare is a Republican bill. Social differences are still large and will be exploited by the Republicans to win the Christian base.”
“There are some non-trivial differences between the two parties on some issues (e.g. reproductive rights, gay rights), but on others (foreign policy, for example), the differences are marginal or nonexistent. In fact, on foreign policy, despite the fact that Democrats sometimes use softer rhetoric, they often turn out to be more aggressive. This seems to be because A. Democratic officeholders feel a need to prove that they are as jingoist as their Republican attackers, and B. because left/liberal opposition diminishes or disappears — or turns into cheerleading — when Democrats are in the White House. GW Bush did not openly assert the right to execute extrajudicially anyone he wanted to. We can assume that the reason isn’t that he’s a nicer guy than Obama, but rather because he knew he would have faced too much opposition.”
While we’re not sure these positions are either verifiable or coherent, they do reflect one piece of the growing dissatisfaction with corporate politics and the two-party system.
One boycott activist closed with this quote:
Every four years many Americans put their hopes in an electoral process, hopes that a savior can be elected—someone who will make their daily lives more livable, someone who will raise wages, create well-paying jobs, enforce union rights, provide adequate health care, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, and end war and militarism. In actuality, the leading “electable” presidential candidates have all been well vetted by the hidden primary of the ruling class and are tied to corporate power in multiple ways. They will stay safely within the bounds set by those who rule America behind the scenes, making sure that members of the plutocracy continue to be the main beneficiaries of the system.
-Laurence Shroup, “The Hidden Wealth Primary”