Friday, September 12, 2008

I Prefer Not To

Jane Dark's recent meditation on voter-abstinence echoed something I wrote a year ago: defined purely by what it doesn't do, non-participation gives body to the absence of a good reason to participate, and (quoting myself) "there is no room for rationalisation, appeasement, evasion, obfuscation, or half-assing in a void." There are always a thousand reasons not to do something, but doing something only needs one good reason to recommend it; if that singular profactory reason remains elusive, well - there's no good reason to do it, so why do it? As everyone's favourite funktacular walking disaster once said, "I never just did things just to have something to do... I got a little more sense than that!"

Of course, voting within the context of American politics is a coin-toss wherein the coin is replaced with a Moebius strip; it's the spin of a blueblood Wheel of Fortune on the ball-bearings of buzzwords, greased by archaic demographic alliances, the two possible outcomes Jackpot or Bankrupt (not including the $300 "stimulus cheque" consolation prize). Serendipitously, Benjamin of No Useless Leniency recently published quite the post tackling the Lesser of Two Evils, as informed by Eyal Weizman and Immanuel Wallerstein. The truly heinous feature of a dilemma, wherein "no refusal of the terms of the situation is allowed," is that
when it comes to the calculation of consequences these are cut-out of the temporal flow. Each incident of calculation is treated anew, as if the previous accumulation of violence had not happened, and the future implications are also strictly delimited. The injunction is always “choose now!”, hence the attraction of the usual “ticking bomb” scenario.
The only context in which picking the lesser of two evils might produce a striking outcome is within the temporal flow. Over the course of a couple decades, judicious & careful compromises (that is, making damn sure the truly lesser evil is chosen) can gradually effect a sea change - "the patient work of political education," as Benjamin wrote, "even if the rewards are not immediate."

But not only does the American election cycle not operate along such a timeline, the Democratic party seems incapable of thinking in anything other than the "ticking timebomb" context. This is obviously abetted by the Rube Goldberg hypemachine of 24-hour newsfeeds and viral memes. Even so, it's as though nothing has been learned by the Republicans' generation-long gestation into the porcine behemoth that rules from inside the Beltway. Their view was sufficiently long that they were willing to suffer many a defeat (e.g. the Democratically-dominated Congress of the Reagan era) along the way; the Democrats and their supporters, on the other hand, soil themselves at the slightest setback and have already begun offering prehumous repentances & electoral eulogies. Even worse, if Obamania does fizzle and dissipate like an Alka-Seltzer belch, the only thing sweeping about the Democratic party's apparent future strategy will be itself into the dustpan of failed political parties. Are these jelly-skeleton'd realpoliticos possessed of some fatalist Morriseyan melancholy or what?

Of course, as a Canuck who forfeited his Green Card, I'm part of the global 80% whose opinion is worth bupkis. There's plenty of good-faith grassroots agitation on behalf of Obama, but had even the most aggressive tactics been employed before the primaries, it's too small a time-frame to complete "the patient work of political education." (Especially when you consider that, historically, African-American politicians fare better in advanced polls than they do in the actual election.)

So - fuck it. I'm going to take the above advice from Chappelle-as-Rick-James and try to unwind for the weekend. I almost blew a gasket yesterday at the ever-rising tide of online idiocy (details forthcoming in the near future), and if Friday night ain't right for a little mindless self-indulgence, then I quit this stupid specie.

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