- Written by Peter Z. Scheer
26 Oct 2012
VOTING IS SACRED - There is no single issue more frustrating to the cause of progress than the relative struggle the left has organizing voters and getting them to the polls. Republicans and conservatives, perhaps driven by a sense of duty, tend to turn out with ease.
The American left, on the other hand, must overcome poverty, intentionally obstructive voting laws and a persistent apathy, often failing to take advantage of natural majorities to effect change. This electoral season, there is a new obstacle. Many on the left now view the system itself as so corrupt and distasteful, the process of voting has become uncool.
I was struck recently by the comments of a 17-year-old girl recorded by Thomas Hedges, who was reporting on the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests: “Voting, punching a ballot every four years? That’s a sham after all of this. It’s a farce. By participating in it, it feels like you’re giving in,” she said.
Some of Obama’s policies, particularly with regard to the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the environment, have given cause for this cynicism. But this girl isn’t just saying politics are corrupt. This ineligible teenager seems to argue that the political process has become so septic, such a “farce,” that participation in it feels like collaboration with the corporate forces that have polluted it.
Voting, then, isn’t a civic responsibility or a path toward progress, but a sin against social justice. Although that line of thinking has certainly been provoked, it’s a perversion of reason that threatens to hand the country to Mitt Romney or, hell, Barack Obama, if he’s not your lesser devil.
And it is Obama who has become the left’s obsession in this election. Instead of uniting disaffected Republicans, liberal Democrats and ex-Green Party idealists, as he did in 2008, the president now seems to have united the far right and the far left in joint contempt.
On the right, we can recognize by polling the same bloc of white men who never really fell for Obama and again resist him. Add to that the elderly voters who watch “Mad Men” and walk away with all the wrong kind of nostalgia for afternoon cocktails and docile women and racial minorities.
But on the left, there is an intensity to the anger. Obama is a fixation and people speak about him the way they speak about conspiracies.
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