Re: Will you VOTE? Why or why not? [Sebastian Mendler reply]

Tom Boland (
Tue, 3 Nov 1998 02:31:01 -0400

FWD Mon, 2 Nov 1998 with permission from:
From: Sebastian Mendler <>
To: Tom Boland <>
cc: Food Not Bombs <>,,
        Greens Conference <>
Subject: Re: Will you VOTE?  Why or why not?
MIME-Version: 1.0

On Mon, 2 Nov 1998, Tom Boland wrote:

> Election day in the USA is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3rd.
> If you are eligible to vote in the next election [in the USA or elsewhere],
> will you do so?
> Why or why not?

Yep.  Here's my take on the subject, in the form of a letter I sent to our
local papers:
(pardon any typographical irregularities, this text editor is acting
strangely today)

22 October 1998

Dear Editor,

The radio this morning had a story about the legal troubles of Louisiana^"s
former Governor Edwards, who'"s been accused of taking bribes.  You might
remember that the last time Edwards ran for governor, his opponent was the
notorious David Duke -- which gave voters there a clear choice between a
known crook and a known racist.  Many people held their noses and voted for
Edwards in that election -- but certainly many others just turned away

Today'"s voters may be forgiven for having similar disillusionment with
the political process -- but noninvolvement, I must insist, is not an

Folks who stay away from the polls "as a protest," or because "they'"re
all crooked," ignore the fact that their "protest" is indistinguishable
from apathy.  Rather than saying, as some do, "Don'"t vote -- it only
encourages them," I would say that it is not voting that encourages
irresponsibility and unresponsiveness on the part of elected officials,
and that leaves our government as easy pickings for special interests.

But, some will say, what should we do when there'"s no one worth voting
for? When neither of the major parties offer someone whom we can support,
or when the similarities between candidates overwhelm the differences?  If
you don'"thave the option of voting for a third-party candidate (and the
system is set up in such a way that this is a rare option indeed), there
is still a way for you to let your political opinion be known at the

I call this method "Vote for Yourself" (VFY).

If you have no other option, no one else that you deem worthy of your vote,
don'"t stay away -- rather, just write in your own name.  (Afterall,who
else shares more of your values?  Who else can you count on to look after
your own interests?)  Imagine the impact that a widespread VFY campaign
could have -- "The Republican got 17% of the vote, the Democrat got 15%, and
Other got 68%..."  This, more than almost anything else I can think of,
would get the attention of the established politicians, remove any illusion
of "mandates," and give clear evidence of the level of disaffection among
the American electorate for "politics as usual."

Remember, the only "wasted vote" is the one that you don'"t cast.  Go to
the polls on November 3, and, if you have to, Vote for Yourself.

Skip Mendler

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