Furious Sheep

By Dmitry Orlov and cross-posted from Club Orlov

In all my years of watching politics in the US, never have I seen a presidential election generate such overwhelmingly negative emotions. Everyone hates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or, increasingly, both of them. This is creating a severe psychological problem for many people: they want to tell their friends and the world that Clinton is mentally unstable and a crook, but they are conflicted because they realize that by so doing they would be supporting Trump. Or they want to tell everyone what a vulgar, narcissistic, egotistical blowhard Trump is, but they are conflicted because they realize that by so doing they would be supporting Clinton. Some are abandoning the two-party duopoly in favor of minor parties, ready to vote for Jill Stein the Green or Gary Johnson the Libertarian, but are conflicted because voting for Stein would take votes away from Clinton the crook and thus support Trump the blowhard, while voting for Johnson would take votes away from Trump the blowhard and thus support Clinton the crook. There is just no winning! Or is there?

There is a long list of arguments for voting against either of the major candidates, some of them seemingly valid. At the top of the list of the seemingly valid ones are that Clinton is corrupt and a warmonger, while Trump is inexperienced and socially divisive. But there is hardly a single valid reason to be found anywhere why someone would want to vote for either them. Some have argued that Trump is less likely to cause World War III, because his instincts are those of a businessman, and he is primarily interested in making money, not war; but Clinton likes money just as much as Trump—just look at her gigantic private slush fund known as the Clinton Foundation! On the other hand, perhaps Trump will like the idea of peace only until the moment he is elected, at which point it will be explained to him that the US empire is an extortion racket, and that breaking legs (a.k.a. war) is how it comes up with the ink. And then he will like war just as much as Clinton does. None of this makes it easy for a lover of liberty and peace to vote for either one of them in good conscience.

I heard Jill Stein say that people should be able to vote their conscience. Yes, let’s concede that voting against your conscience is probably bad for your soul, if not your pocketbook. But this makes it sound as if the voting booth were a confessional rather than what it is—an apparatus by which people can assert their very limited political power. But do you have any political power, or are American elections just a game of manipulation in which you lose no matter how you vote? A 2014 study,“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page conclusively showed how the preferences of average citizens matter not a whit, while those of moneyed elites and interest groups certainly do. Thus, the question as to whether you are the winner or the loser in the game of US electoral politics is easily answered: if you are a multibillionaire and a captain of industry, then you might win; if you are an average citizen, then the chances of you winning are precisely zero

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