If you vote for a different politician then you do not understand how the system works. Voting alone accomplishes little, you're right, but when combined with a mass movement, direct action, and robust activist organising, our efforts are collectively powerful. If the people who believe voting and other forms of activism are pointless suddenly threw off those chains of powerlessness, and started to get engaged, not just on election day, but every week... you can bet we would see a revolution unseen in the history of the world. Voting by itself never was nor ever will be a silver bullet - but when combined with sustained activist organising and movement building, we possess a power that is truly threatening to the ruling establishment. No revolutionary movement was ever yet caused by propaganda alone. Conditions make revolutions, conditions have caused, and are causing the tremendous change in the attitude of the labour movement.
It's quite a coup that the ruling class have gotten us to believe exactly what they need us to believe to maintain our own oppression - that the one mechanism which can legally threaten their legitimacy, supposedly holds no power. That's how the ruling elite rule. "Business leaders and elite intellectuals recognized that the public had won enough rights so that they can't be controlled by force so it would be necessary to turn to control of attitudes and opinions." According to Noam Chomsky. “The government has a defect; namely it's potentially influenceable by the population.” The State's primary defect is that all of its legitimacy rests on the notion that the government is supposed to represent the people. So it offers us voting and elections to maintain its legitimacy, because it can't rule straight up as an authoritarian force. It has to rule by covert means - giving the public a means to influence the government, but covertly doing everything it can to sway the elections in their favor. Business and political elites would certainly love to rule the country without the people getting in the way, but ruling America as an authoritarian dictatorship isn't realistically feasible. Every government rests on legitimacy. That's why most dictatorships sooner or later get overthrown in popular uprisings. The smart way to rule is to market the system as fundamentally democratic while swaying outcomes via "soft power" measures and more sophisticated propaganda techniques. The more dysfunctional government appears, the more people will want to avoid politics like the plague - and yet, despite this level of dysfunction, the government is highly functional when it comes to bolstering corporate welfare, tax breaks for the rich, and maintaining a bloated defense budget which feeds our tax dollars into the coffers of the defense industry. The government is working great when you consider who owns it and who benefits from this state of affairs. Instead of apathy, disgust, and despair, we should recognize that the vote is our greatest weapon. To win, we have to throw off decades of learned helplessness.
We have heard repeated thousands of times, the quote from Emma Goldman, who said, "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." Leftists have a litany of beliefs that have been true so many times in the past, it has become an ideology. The danger is in applying this ideology to every situation, we'll have blinders on when a real opportunity arises.
Many believe that "elections are pointless," "voting never makes a difference," or that "the game is rigged." But if you want to oppose the ruling class and oppose the political system by submitting a spoiled ballot paper as the Socialist Party recommends, it's really important that you make sure that you are registered to vote. If you don't even bother to register to vote, your ill-conceived protest of abstention or boycott is going to be totally indistinguishable from complete political apathy.
Liberals hand out a few sugar pills and hope to get votes by promising to lead “the people” out of the wilderness. Workers, however, are too close to the facts of life to be fooled all of the time. Workers cannot wait. They must get relief and there is a struggle between those workers forced to move forward and the “leaders” who want to hold them back which often reveals to the workers the reactionary nature of the trade union structure which sometimes serves to buttress of the capitalists’ system.
“I am their leader, I have to follow them.”
The capitalist class well understands the significance of the ballot box. They are only too willing to invest millions in ensuring only candidates representing their interests appear on the ballot paper.
The Socialist Party does not recognise two types of socialism, one revolutionary and the other not. We recognise only one socialism, revolutionary socialism, since socialism is a movement of ideas and actions that leads to the total transformation of the organization of property, and the revolution, by definition, is that transformation itself. Revolution means the transformation of an economic regime based on private property into one based on collective or common property. That transformation is itself the revolution, regardless of the means employed to reach that end. Revolution means something more. We, socialists, think that the revolutionary transformation of property can be accomplished only when we have conquered political power. No socialist, however moderate he or she may claim to be, has ever expected political power to come only through an electoral success.
Bill MartinRICHMOND BARNES:Adam BuickSOUTHWARK BOROUGH AND BANKSIDE:Kevin Parkin