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Democracy Is For Life, Not Elections


#1

Democracy Is For Life, Not Elections

Russell Brand

A mate who I trust said to me:

"You know what this election boils down to? Who do you want to be protesting against on May 8th? Or whenever they finish counting, negotiating and posturing? David Cameron and a Tory coalition or Ed Miliband and one led by Labour?"

I suppose, implicitly my argument has always been - the Tories - let them wrench out the organs of the nation with such ferocity and contempt that usually phlegmatic people are dragged into the war against the establishment by the dreadful, eviscerating G-force.


#2

"....we are not offered reasonable alternatives and that parties that try to, like the Greens are stymied to the point irrelevance by ancient electoral architecture."

No Russell, the electoral architecture works, but the reason the Greens don't do well, or similarly Respect or other far left groups, is not enough people vote for them. Simple as that. Tragically, the masses do not agree with our general world view. On the other hand, advising people not to vote doesn't help their support or their cause any. Why not suggest people vote Green, they need all the help they can get?


#3

Ridiculous. The U.S. is a huge nation and it could be argued that Minnesota is an altogether different world than Los Angeles, and both incredibly distinct from Florida's Bible belt. The reason why corporations spend billions of dollars on PR, musical jingles, brand logos, and LOTS of media "face time" is that mass media is what sells everything from shoes to sex. Candidates are promoted as product brands and without major TV, radio, and print exposure someone popular in Cincinnati will not be heard of in Seattle, and so forth.

With media captured by a handful of massive broadcast corporations, a system of pay-to-play political gatekeeping is in place.

This idea that people who are working longer hours for lesser pay and becoming fatter and sicker largely due to food additives and dangerous chemical exposures ought somehow apprise themselves of individuals whose existences are totally off their radar is inane. It also fits this site's Tag Team's NUMBER 1 Talking Point: Blame The People.

There are major logistical obstacles to 3rd party candidates getting on all state ballots, too.

And since the system conspires to retain itself, the idea that 1 of the 2 established parties with its pre-vetted candidates WILL win operates as a largely self-fulfilling prophecy.

If this nation had proportional voting, or multiple choices ALL given major media time to share their views with the public, then this LIE often repeated would have some measure of truth to it. As things stand, it does not.

"Translating" Mr. Brand's commentary to U.S. politics, what he appears to be saying is--better a Bernie Sanders (who is not indicative of an all-out revolution of the system) to mitigate matters for those most in need... since it takes time to build a viable and engaged mass movement outside of the duopoly's firm grip.


#5

Another clever essay by Russel. Of course we can choose the lesser but Hillary is not a choice.


#6

Russell, as always: instructional, informative, and above all artistically entertaining! Keep it up.


#7

He is talking about the UK election, which is tomorrow (2 mins away) and so am I, and if anything is 'ridiculous' it's comparing that to the situation in the USA. America is not the world so not every situation has to be seen through the narrow context and horizons of the country you occupy. Try thinking outside that nationalist box a little. None of your comments make much sense from where I am standing.


#8

"No Russell, the electoral architecture works..."

No Hobgoblin, you are ignorant about "electoral architecture."

It is SIMPLE to design a voting system that does NOT require voters to vote "lesser evil" or to compromise or "waste" their vote. For examples that you have probably heard of, systems of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and Proportional Representation (PR) are improvements over the blunt stupid "plurality" system that currently predominates in the USA. But there are simple elegant systems that are better than IRV with PR.

Score Voting, and its simplest form Approval Voting, provide better outcomes WITHOUT ANY need to compromise your vote or suffer accusations of wasting your vote or electing a "greater evil."

Please go to www.electology.org and do a little reading on the matter of "electoral architecture."


#9

But the oh-so reviled by many here on CD Sanders is...


#10

Thanks Russel,

You used a lot of those colorful Britishisms I don't understand, But I've been arguing the same things here for a while. A vote for the Democrat is just damage control while we organize on the ground. To oppose the less-bad in pursuit of idiotic spite, or an idiotic scorched earth "worse, the better" strategy is to tell the poor that we actually don't give a flying fuck about them.


#11

No, I am not ignorant about the electoral architecture. You are making a similar mistake to SRose, thinking the US electoral system applies to the UK, which Russell is referring to. FYI there was referendum in the UK just about 3-4 years ago asking the population if they wanted to scrap the present electoral system and switch to proportional representation (the AV system), arguments were aired for the benefits of both systems, people discussed it and finally the people overwhelmingly voted NO. You can moan about it all you want and call them stupid but that's what the British people voted for. You don't get more democratic than that. Or would you change it against their will and force them to have it? So your arguments make no sense in the context of that.

Results here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_Alternative_Vote_referendum,_2011

People are not voting for a lesser evil. There are seven candidates on the ballot where I am residing at the moment, including a Conservative, Pirate Party, Labour, Lib Dem, Green Party, Socialist Party, UKIP (UK Independence (from Europe) Party and most peope vote for what they believe in. Unfortunately, for most of them, that's not what I, or presumably you, believe in. Sad but true. I know this not just from election results but from talking and arguing with them and I don't insult them, as SRose does, by presuming they are too stupid to form a reasoned opinion for themselves and must be brainwashed if they happen to disagree with me. That is the ultimate patronising mindset of the fascist. The things Russell believes in are represented by the Greens, so instead of telling people not to vote, as he once did, (ok for him living in his big fuck-off mansion, he's not being driven to suicide by Tory austerity cuts) he should suggest they vote Green. There is no excuse for not voting. Google Peterloo massacre. People, workers, died there for the right to vote, and as far as I'm concerned people who don;t vote, or advice others not to (talking about UK here not the US) are just spitting on their graves.


#12

Thanks, i did have a knee-jerk reaction to your post, and replied in a US context. In my defense, it was about 2 a.m. after a long day and series of long days...

i was aware that while being a multi-party parliamentary system, UK does not offer proportional representation or instant runoff voting, but i was unaware or had forgotten about the opportunity for voters to institute IRV in 2011. No doubt (reading the Wikipedia article you link to) the campaign was distorted and misleading, but voters' missing such an opportunity is disheartening.

All that acknowledged, under the existing UK electoral architecture, voting for your preferred candidate will often result in your vote being "wasted" and having zero impact on the election and on parliamentary representation. Especially in the case of an insurgent party like the Greens seeking to overtake established parties.

i also agree there is no excuse for not voting, but there is validity to Brand's criticism of the electoral system, as well as validity to his assessment of the utility of voting. i have posted here often my own critique of the intense narrow focus in these threads on electoral politics and party politics as the most important measures of political engagement. We DO need swift deep transformation of the political economy, we DO need organized mass action outside of (or at least in conjunction with) electoral and party politics, and i appreciate Brand's calls for direct intervention in the system, irrespective of his privileged position of wealth and fame, and irrespective of his not laying out a comprehensive strategy or program.

And, i'd also say that it remains important to continue to push issues of "electoral architecture" everywhere, to continue to build awareness of distortions and to propose improvements, despite disheartening defeats like the vote against the Alternative Voting system in UK in 2011.


#13

I agree. I'd prefer PR and hopefully it will be revisited.

Sad though, that I greet the dawn heartsick to the news of slender Tory Majority and so another 5 years of their rule and all the austerity, cuts to public services and imposed privatisation that will incur, and that Labour didn't get the gains from them they needed, sometimes losing the seat by only a few hundred votes. All of which can't help me wondering if all those who can't be arsed voting, often because they think, just like privileged Russell, it's kinda part of their 'cool' disaffected image, had actually turned out and voted, we might have swung it or cut that slender majority they have, and perhaps saved a few more lives, like this guys:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/03/victims-britains-harsh-welfare-sanctions