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   Why would people vote against their own interests?  Why do so many people choose not to vote at all?  Some of the answers lie with the very structure of the American political system and the ideological rules that are currently being followed.

Noam Chomsky has always said that the US has two business class parties.  Ostensibly, they agree on a core of values and only differ on a few social and economic ones, just enough to differentiate themselves (modestly from the other).

” -In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.”

-Noam Chomsky

So, it is a terrible system for most, except for the people in power.  Rob Urie explains:

 

“Tacticians for the political establishment(s) understand that electoral politics is antithetical to democracy, which is why they use strategies of exclusion to maintain their lock on power. This unity through exclusion is what makes the pretense that they— Democrats versus Republicans, are ideological combatants so self-serving and implausible. Either Party could expand the electorate by bringing in unaffiliated and disaffected voters, and in-so-doing dominate American politics. But to do so, they would have to offer a political program that voters want.

The U.S. has a very low electoral turnout rate compared with other so-called democracies. The question then is why Democrats would focus their efforts on luring a small number of suburban Republicans to vote for Democrats rather than on the large number of eligible voters from urban, suburban and rural working class and poor neighborhoods? The answer is class. The oligarchs + the richest 9.9% won’t support policies that benefit poor and working-class voters. They might oppose racism, but not poverty.

One easy way to expand the electorate is to stop excluding it. Old news here— voter suppression is rampant in the U.S. While this is a favorite tactic of Republicans, Democrats have passed up every opportunity to 1) force Republicans to stop doing it and 2) enact universal suffrage. Here’s the rub— even if Democrats accepted 20% voter suppression as a background level, they could still craft policies that support the poor and working class and bring in tens of millions of voters by doing so. But they apparently don’t want ‘those people’ voting.

In 2018 in my poor and working class, 98% Democrat, neighborhood, the Democrats left door tags with two messages: property tax ‘relief’ that has little appeal in a 90%+ renter neighborhood and ‘stopping Trump.’ This neighborhood suffered horribly in the Bush / Obama years from the twin catastrophes of de-industrialization and financialization. De-industrialization took away the jobs and then financialization made housing unaffordable while growing a below living-wage chain-store economy that bankrupted local businesses.”

Breaking out of the two party system is the first requirement for any sort of authentic change not only in American society, but also in Canada as well.  The two ‘preferred choices’ both serve a narrow slice of the population while essentially disenfranchising the rest.

If we wish to see real change, we will need to address the systemic electoral obstacles first.

 

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