OP-ED: Swing State Pickup Lines
I swear on the Fourth Amendment.
We don't have that amendment anymore.
You know that?
Yes. What's the catch? Which hack are you hocking?
None of them. I'm serious.
For real? What planet are you from? Scratch that. Will you marry me and what planet are you from?
I'm not entirely sure.
I'm not sure what planet I'm from, and of course I'll marry you. Now I do want to ask you one thing.
I knew it! I want a prenuptial agreement.
No. No. I want to tell you something about me and ask you if you can understand it. I want to know if you can understand why I'm not voting for Obama.
But I don't care why.
OK, let me guess. He's less evil than Romney but less evil is still evil, and you don't want to be evil, and you just haven't managed to grasp that the more evil candidate is even more evil?
Good guess, but … completely wrong. You have to remember here that I'm not a blithering idiot. I know it's hard, but try. In fact, I'm willing to suggest that lesser evilism is a truism, requiring exactly zero cerebral exertion to comprehend. The more evil candidate will do more evil. Got it. But I'm still not voting for the less evil one.
OK, I have another guess.
You want the more evil candidate to win because you imagine it will create the sort of mass resistance that will turn the country completely around, whereas the less evil guy will just keep boiling us slowly like frogs.
Now that's slander.
How can it be slander when it's a guess?
Of the frogs, I mean. If you heat a pot the frog jumps out, and if you drop him in an already boiling pot he cooks. It's all backwards because frogs are just not as stupid as humans. We like to imagine . . .
So you DO want to make Romney president!
No. I do not want to make Romney president. Not to create mass resistance. Not to make it easier for President Hillary to put the final nail in our national coffin four years hence. Not because I'm mad at Obama and he hurt my wittle feelings. Not for any reason.
OK, I've got it.
You've got it?
Yeah, you're not going to vote at all because that way you're sending a message to the whole corrupt system that it sucks and you don't.
Um, we've got almost 100 million people trying that, and it hasn't sent anybody so much as a postcard yet.
All right. Let me think.
By all means. I'm not the thought police.
I can see that.
OK. This is it. You believe that Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson or some other hopeless candidate is our last true hope. You think they can win, or could theoretically win, or might begin to build a party that could theoretically someday win, or something like that.
That's five guesses.
We don't waste time in swing states.
Well, they're all wrong. They're so far off Diebold couldn't count them. They're not in the same ballpark. Those guesses are about as close to right as …
OK, so this isn't fair, because the answer is some crazy thing having to do with that other planet you're from or something. It's not fair unless it's something I know about.
You know about it.
Yeah, well, I call.
Are we playing poker?
Yeah, and I call. What have you got?
What are we playing for?
Beer? Are you, or are you not, better off than you were four beers ago?
All right. Here's the deal.
It's too late to deal. I call.
All right. All right. You know how we're always supposed to vote for the lesser evil candidate, but then four years later they're both more evil?
You know how last time the lesser evil candidate was for taxing the rich and ending wars and fixing NAFTA and restoring the rule of law and protecting civil liberties and tackling climate change and passing the Employee Free Choice Act, and this time the lesser evil candidate is for cutting Social Security and Medicare and spying without warrants and letting the CIA and Special Forces kill people every day and expanding NAFTA to the whole damn world and establishing an assassination program for men women and children and imprisoning people forever without charge or trial and drilling more oil?
Well, yeah, when you put it that way.
No, I'm not putting it that way. Remember, I'm agreeing that the more evil guy is more evil. We've been there, done that, right?
Right, so … ?
OK, so if we vote for the lesser evil guy every time but then the two choices are both more evil, there must be something else we should be doing. And I have an idea what it is. And we can't do it if we're doing lesser evil voting. So, I don't want Obama to win. I don't want Romney to win. I don't imagine that Stein or Anderson can win. I don't think the outcome of the election can send a message. I'm not interested in the outcome at all, because I'm more interested in whether the people of this country are doing this other thing I have in mind, and it just so happens that the only way they can do it is if they are the kind of people who vote for Stein or Anderson.
So, you want Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson?
No. I voted for Stein. Anderson is great too. I don't give a rat's derriere whether they get 1% or 20%, except as a side effect. I'm not interested in them, although I like them both. I'm interested in the millions of people who are going to vote or not vote and in what kind of people they are.
Who cares what kind of people they are if Romney ruins their country.
He can't. He can't do it if they're the kind of people I have in mind. And either Obama or Romney will do it, perhaps at slightly different speeds, if people allow them to.
I don't understand.
OK, well, let me try to explain. It's hard to put into a sound bite. Change comes from broad-based popular movements that impact the entire culture. This is how we got civil and political rights, how we got workplace rights and environmental protections -- such as they are. Everything worth achieving has been achieved by educating, organizing, inspiring, and pressuring the government, and not by picking the right portion of the government to reelect, cheer for, and withhold all criticism from. Now, you can say you want to vote for the lesser evil person while simultaneously protesting him, but it doesn't work that way. Most people's minds and most popular organizations devote themselves to lesser evilism on a permanent basis, not just the week of an election. Obama in 2009 told the big environmentalist groups not to talk about climate change, and most of them haven't mentioned it since, even in the midst of a hurricane. One group mentioned it and declared that the tar sands pipeline would be Obama's test, but the price for failing the test is having that group and its members vote for Obama's reelection a little less cheerfully.
So, you think activism is more important than elections and you really mean it? So when elections get in the way of activism you want people to change their electoral behavior in whatever way will make them better activists, regardless of what happens in the election?
Exactly! Is that marriage thing still on the table?
Uh huh. You know what I was thinking?
Remember when the peace movement was big several years ago? I mean, not super big, but big enough to be noticed?
And then the Democrats came into Congress and into the White House, and it dried up, right?
Well, what if it hadn't? What if it had kept growing? What if everything that went into electing Obama the first time had gone into the peace movement? What if the Nobel Committee in its infinite wisdom had given a peace prize to the peace movement? What if the peace movement had a billion dollars and a gazillion volunteer hours to work with? Wouldn't that have been worth more than having Obama instead of McCain? Wouldn't that have made both McCain and Obama better or replaced them with better people and led to a choice anyway of the lesser evil candidate who would have been even less evil? Or if it didn't, but the movement continued to grow, wouldn't it stand a chance of turning things dramatically around in the coming years, unlike Dr. 47% or Captain Drone Warrior if left to their own devices?
You actually understand this! Now I have to ask what planet you are from.
No, let me ask you something.
Did you call this "Swing State Pickup Lines" because "Why Can't You Morons Get This Stuff Through Your Thick Skulls" sounded less attractive?
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David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.