the power of the vote

I’m sure by now everyone has seen the newest Russell Brand interview that has been making the rounds on the internets. If not, you can skip to the bottom of this post and have a gander for yourself. Personally, I think it is one of the most amazing things I’ve heard in a long, long time. Actually, the only aspect of it that bums me out is the fact that the whole discussion has since been reduced to an argument on voting when it is about so much more than that.

Me, I vote. Sometimes. I’ll admit I’ve missed an election or two in my time, but for the most part I go and take part in democracy because I like the sticker. I also like feeling like I’m a part of getting something done, but I’m realistic about the fact that I’m not really. The sad truth of American politics is that there is way too much money involved, and until there isn’t, Russell is partly – if not completely – right. Your vote kinda maybe doesn’t really mean shit. And if – like him – you’re disgusted by the entire system, your vote may actually feel like an act of complacent acceptance.

On the other hand, if you’re anti-voting like Russell is, I don’t really care. Not that I don’t care you’re not voting, but I don’t really care to hear about it. Like voting, not-voting is no revolution. You’re not tossing maltov cocktails at armored troops with billy clubs or tearing down the walls of oppression. Instead, you’re just doing exactly what those in power want you to do; Express a total disinterest in their system.

What I’m really trying to say is this: The power of the vote is gone. These days it’s just another personal preference, like drinking coffee or abstaining from television. You could write books on why the power is gone, but a simple summery would most definitely point heavily back at the massive amounts of corporate money that is steering the true direction of candidates that wouldn’t have a chance of winning without the corporate paychecks in the first place.

If you’re like me, you could vote for the buried wins in a sea of losses while believing that voting isn’t evil and not-voting isn’t a revolt. Or choose anywhere else on the hate-it to love-voting! spectrum, it doesn’t really matter. Because what you do isn’t important, it’s what you influence others to do that matters. If society feels disenfranchised and helpless, than the system needs to change, not their view of the system.

Which gets me back to the Russell Brand thing. What he is talking about is what I truly believe we need. A total re-imagination of what we are capable of. To watch this smug journalist sit across from him with that disdainful smirk on his face makes me want to just kick him off the boat, because the simple fact is this:

Every great change in our society has taken massive amounts of imagination to became reality.

I believe the most important point Russell brings up in this video is the idea that – if nothing else – the Occupy Movement introduced Americans to the truth that 1% of the population have most of the money. That alone has done more for the progressive shift of this country than any presidential vote we’ve been a part of in our lifetime.

As it turns out, real change is going to take a lot more than a vote, and that’s what Russell is talking about. And don’t get tripped up on the word “revolution” either, because it doesn’t mean we have to burn the place down. It just means we need a large amount of imagination to realize that collectively we can be anything we want to be, so what’s so hard about imagining that we just be better?

  • onion

    this is where you and I part company my friend. if you want to see the effects of the power of voting and revolution without the influence of corporate money, look no further than the tea party. these are the people waging revolution though the voting booth. and it is working. corporations are now actively funding candidates against the tea party–see Alabama 1st and Michigan 3rd. as people have pointed out. there are no OWS congress members. why not? would you prefer to have scott brown rather than Elizabeth warren on the banking and finance committee? because of the tea party revolution, democrats have a chance to take back the house, but it is going to take massive voter turn out. you know what will happen if we GOTV–immigration reform, fixing Obama care, raising taxes on the rich, jobs bills, infrastructure repair…all the stuff that has languished in the house. and as for the history. it took a lot more than imagination, it took organizing and voting. the history of progressive change in this country is one of organized pressure. guess what money doesn’t have? numbers. 99 vs. 1. if we’re organized, I’ll take that fight.