Monday, June 13, 2011

Voting is only common sense in an elite way

Cultural hegemony, it's a big scary sounding term, right? If you break it down by word definitions it's the dominance of one section over all of the shared values of a society. That still sounds wordy. Lemme sum up.

Cultural hegemony, in the simplest of terms, is the idea that the best interests of the elite become the basis for "common sense".

Ladies who drink in bars are setting themselves up for rape. It's common sense that we should be careful to not drink near people. Except that the only thing that turns a drunk girl (or a sober one) into a rape victim is the presence of a rapist. So "common sense" in this case just serves to keep rape culture thriving by shifting the blame onto the victim and ignoring the (mostly) elite men who commit the crime.

It's also "common sense" that you are better able to determine how to spend your dollars individually than the government is, and therefore taxes are bad. Except most of us can't afford to buy a road, or have the equipment and education to check our food for ecoli and salmonella. We understand that bulk buying is a good thing (do you have a costco card? Then you understand the value of bulk buying) but "common sense" tells us that the same economic principles don't work when applied to the government. Can't imagine why the elites would be in favor of lower taxes? Can you?

So voting. We've all heard the schtick, from elementary school on, about how our little votes make a difference. It's "common sense" to vote and be counted, have your voice heard, right? Can't complain if you didn't vote (though complaining even if you did vote doesn't get you anywhere either).

But over and fucking over we end up with a government that ignores what the people want, even though we keep voting. Polls have been done for literally decades putting things like jobs, healthcare, education at the top of the list of things voters are concerned about while pols keep talking about MOAR WAR and deficits.
And it's not just recently. How fucking long were we in Vietnam?

So what happens when we stop voting? What kind of legitimacy do you think a government could claim if only 20% of the population votes and barely more than half of that 20% votes for the ruling party? None, close to none? Can you rule with the approval of just 11% of the populace? I don't think so (and wouldn't it be cool if there was a mathy type out there who wanted to figure out at just what voting level does a government lose legitimacy?)But don't take my blathering hypotheticals as proof, just think about any totalitarian state where voting is mandatory and not voting is punishable. Voting, even when there is NO CHOICE TO MAKE provides a veneer of legitimacy.

And it is the veneer of legitimacy that the elites want. It's in their best interest that we think we have a say in who has power, that we think "being counted" means something. It doesn't, not now. It could, but we are a long damn way from a time when voting means anything other than rubber stamping our own demise.

But decide for yourselves whether you are ready to give up on "common sense" by not voting at all, or maybe test the waters with voting third party (that's what I did, and may still do. But you can be damn sure that neither ruling party will ever get my vote again). "But do try", as my favorite prof used to say, "to use a little more Cartesian common sense and think for yourselves" rather than following along with the what the elites think we should be doing. Being counted is for cattle. Being heard is for humans.

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