Should liberals vote?

Filed in National by on January 27, 2014

The knee-jerk response to the question above is, “Of course. What if Republicans win more elections because liberals don’t vote?” In this very interesting and provocative clip Russel Brand takes a different point of view and makes a pretty good case for not voting. He points out that voting in a system as rigged and corrupt as ours is nothing more than meek acquiescence. It is collaboration. If you accept the premise that too much water has flowed over the damn to be fixed by voting for the LEAST corrupted candidate, then not voting becomes the only valid alternative. Voting for Democrats is a “relief valve” that makes some people feel as if they’ve done some good for the world, when really they’ve only endorsed a completely corrupt system.

I know many will comment on this thread without watching the entire video – but watch it.


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Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (40)

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  1. Dana says:

    I am perfectly happy with y’all choosing not to vote! 🙂

    However, if voting in cases in which you believe that the system is so corrupt as to not be worth validating by voting, you have only three choices: emigration, meek acceptance, or revolution.

    But it’s somewhat difficult for me to take someone like Mr Brand seriously. He is a heroin addict who managed to blow a marriage to Katy Perry, said that everything he knows about sex he learned from pornography, and, in an actual revolution, as one of the rich, would be the first to become poor. If the system is corrupt, he has been the beneficiary of that corruption.

  2. Jason330 says:

    It may be difficult for you to take someone like Mr Brand seriously, but it is impossible for me to take you seriously.

    Current US voters occupy to broad categories. People who recognize that the Democratic Party may be marginally better than the Republican Party at governing, and complete idiots who are happy dupes of a super-wealthy transnational elite.

    Guess which one you are?

  3. Delaware Dem says:

    Russell Brand doesn’t know what he wants. It is a kids’ tantrum. All these stupid independents out there like Brand who want to get things done and are frustrated that things are not changing at the snap of a finger are clueless about what else, other than DICTATORSHIP, can be done to replace democracy.

    Yes we must vote.

    And yes, Russell Brand must stop with the drugs.

  4. Jason330 says:

    DD, Your disdain is usually more convincing. His point, as I take it, is that the current system is unsustainable. Voting simply prolongs the end, while not voting could get us to a possible change more quickly.

  5. pandora says:

    Wow! That video was amazing. Russel Brand was the smartest guy in the room – loved how he refused to let the reporter set BS premises. The reporter, Jeremy, as well as our press, is part of the problem – they feed the status quo, and then this guy has the nerve to call out Brand for exactly what the reporter does for a living. Seriously, that reporter seems to think that only certain people can have an opinion.

    Now, I’m not sure I agree with Brand on not voting (I just can’t imagine my doing that), but I understand what he’s saying. You know, there is a tipping point when it comes to income equality – there comes a point when the majority of people have nothing left to lose, and that seems to be Brand’s point about a revolution. 99% vs 1% aren’t very good odds for the 1%. Even 90% vs 10% aren’t good odds. So… Vive la rĂ©volution?

  6. Dana says:

    Mr 330 thinks he can hurt my feelings:

    Current US voters occupy to broad categories. People who recognize that the Democratic Party may be marginally better than the Republican Party at governing, and complete idiots who are happy dupes of a super-wealthy transnational elite.

    Guess which one you are?

    I’m the one who actually understands economics, who understands that people have to be productive to actually earn money, and that all of the oh-so-well-intended attempts at socialism have resulted not in sharing the wealth but spreading the poverty.

    We had the Soviet Union and it’s command economy, which eventually collapsed. We have China, which is prospering now that it has reverted to a more capitalistic system. We have Venezuela, sitting on top of huge petroleum reserves, in which the people can’t even produce enough toilet paper. We have Greece, which had a system of great benefits, which couldn’t produce enough to pay for those benefits, collapsing. And we have France, with the soft socialism of democratic Europe, with chronic unemployment of 10%, and a youth unemployment rate of almost 25%.

    Capitalism is a hard system, which produces winners and losers; the winners do well, and the losers do not. But the other systems produce only losers, with the exception of the bureaucrats and the men with guns.

  7. Jason330 says:

    Wrong. You are the duped. I’ve never see a more classic example.

  8. Liberal Elite says:

    @D “Capitalism is a hard system, which produces winners and losers; the winners do well, and the losers do not.”

    OK. But there is well regulated capitalism and then there is free-for-all capitalism. Without proper regulation, only the cheaters win. And that’s the problem with the GOP. They enable the cheaters. They ARE the cheaters.

    How can you decry wealth distribution, when quite honestly, it’s your side that’s actually redistributing wealth with reverse-robin-hood-ism???

    The Gini index didn’t go up and up all by itself…

  9. kavips says:

    A) Obviously Dana does not understand economics.

    B) Steve, some of us did notice.

    C) and Mr. Brand’s argument only works in vacuum…. I failed to hear any reference to how the 20th Century became America’s greatest. It became that way when a super-majority of Democrats were VOTED into Washington in 1932, and stayed there long enough to keep the changes from unraveling until after the new-Century mark was passed.

    America would not be the power it is today, if its citizens had taken Mr. Brand’s advice back in 1932. Hoover would have had a second term.

    I question whether Mr. Brand, has secretly gone over to the other side, and now become part of the noise problem….

    America does not need its own Rasputin.

  10. Jason330 says:

    That is actually fairly persuasive. However, 2014 isn’t 1932. In 1932 each city had scores of newspapers – many of them….(gasp! openly leftist). We had the trade union movement, and a domestic manufacturing industry.

    Today we have a consolidated right wing media and none of the traditional avenues for the working class to exercise any political power.

  11. knows better says:

    Dana knows actually knows economics? Way cool Dana…one of my degrees is in that field (actually Macro Economics) and I don’t think you have a clue other than what Fox News tells you to think you know about economics. You’re using a mixed bowl of fruits to make comparisons as well as a varied time frame of occurances not to mention some rather unstable governments.
    Personally and more on topic I haven’t missed a vote since the first one in 1976 and don’t plan to miss any in the future.

  12. kavips says:

    True. back then we also had well groomed and intellectual communists running around preaching across readily accepted ideas across the nation. One of Roosevelt’s big selling points was in his convincing others that they needed him because just look at those crazies out there who will make things worse for business if I don’t get elected,, … With that said, maybe I was too hard on Mr. Brand above. For he is pushing the envelope a little to the left, which also has the side effect of moving the center point in that direction as well…

  13. Dorian Gray says:

    The last few years I have really come around to Brand and his message. (Watch his take down of Hugo Boss when he recieved an award sponsored by Hugo Boss!) It is hard to get past his schtick, but he does make a lot of very salient social, cultural and political points.

    Of course Dana’s three choices are absurd. A year or so ago I watched a documentary film on Ralph Nader. In it Lawrence O’Donnell (who I am no fan of) made an excellent point. The most powerful polictical factions won’t change unless their constituents prove that they won’t vote for them. The Tea Party has made inroads with Republicans, for example.

    So I haven’t decided whether I will or will not continue to vote, but I have decided never to vote for a Democrat again. I’ll vote for a Socialist or a Green Party candidate perhaps… Otherwise I won’t vote.

    I know not many of you believe this, but the political gap between say Hillary Clinton and say Chris Christie is relatively narrow. Think about it beyond a few cherry picked issues or personality and really think about it.

  14. Jason330 says:

    “I haven’t missed a vote since the first one in 1976 and don’t plan to miss any in the future.”

    Knows Better, Your measly vote was not match for the doctrine of shareholder primacy.

  15. Jason330 says:

    On a state level, to think that Markell was the “progressive” choice vs. Carney is all you need to know about how important voting is.

  16. pandora says:

    Brand’s job is to be provocative, not write policy. He’s using his craft to draw attention to issues. Comedians have always used humor to make political statements, and I would argue that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are prime examples of this. They aren’t writing policy, but they have made a difference.

    So no… I don’t think the message is not to vote – the message is that, no matter who you vote for, not much will change so we need to do something different from the status quo. What exactly that will be, no one is sure. However, step #1: Identify the problem.

    Before occupy no one mentioned income inequality. Now we have an idiot 1%er comparing his plight to that of Holocaust victims. There are no words to explain how horribly wrong and offensive that is. There’s something very wrong with people who think like this.

  17. truthatkast says:

    kavips is on the right track. The New Deal and the War on Poverty were the result, in part, of people participating in electoral politics, both by voting and by being engaged in mundane political activism. Underlying these victories of electoral politics were powerful social movements that nourished and sustained them. Elections and voting are part of a larger strategy of involvement. For the past 30 years or so, progressive movements, especially the labor movement, has weakened. Politics and voting have become to some extent defensive, although the ACA and progress on same sex marriage are victories of movements and electoral politics. Not voting is overwhelmingly a kind of disengagement that goes along with fatalism.

  18. cassandra_m says:

    The only way I could answer whether or not Liberals should be voting is if someone would tell me what should be going on in its place. We already have less than 50% participation in elections and I’m sort of stunned that we haven’t come to terms with the fact that this is a FEATURE not a bug of the current electoral landscape. If the people who most need a government not captured by corporate interests stop voting, that leaves more room for the manipulation and capture by those interests.

    Certainly politicians watch who doesn’t vote , but they watch closer the people who DO vote. Petulantly sitting out the process — a process that has been captured by corporate interests — by which is is EASIEST to make change here pretty much capitulates to the status quo. It never has a chance of changing it. Never. Figure out a way to get majorities of that 50% to the polls to just write in a name or an issue and suddenly those who have captured the process will pay attention. Not because of the fake vote, but because something actually *could* mobilize those people. And that something isn’t under control of the usual suspects.

    Brand is quite right that governments all over the world no longer work for the majority of their constituents. Yet today, there is a story someplace about Iceland who let their to-big-to-fail banks FAIL and now they are at 2% unemployment. But just sitting down and sitting out the process is definitely not how revolutions get run.

  19. jason330 says:

    Is it fatalism or a desire to be more effective? Voting for Democrats (as the party is currently configured) does less to bring about progressive change than not voting.

    And yet, I see Pandora’s point. Not voting for Democrats is not an end in itself, or even Brand’s most important point.

  20. jason330 says:

    The only way I could answer whether or not Liberals should be voting is if someone would tell me what should be going on in its place.

    You say it yourself.

    …. If the people who most need a government not captured by corporate interests stop voting, that leaves more room for the manipulation and capture by those interests.

    That is exactly the unsustainable situation not voting would hope to bring about. Brand seems to be saying that as far as he is concerned, the system is too far gone. It is a nihilistic perspective, but the 1% needs to get everything for the system to come crashing down under its own infeasibility.

    Everything else is a mirage that props up the status quo.

  21. auntie dem says:

    General Strike! The 99% stay home for a week and let the 1% see just how worthless they are in our society.

  22. Jason330 says:

    That would be a more direct route, to be sure.

  23. ben says:

    DD, Dana,
    Brand has been (at least saying so) sober for nearly a decade.
    Dana, El Rusho was a heroine addict much more recently than Brand.. (i realize since he is rich and Conservative we call it “pain killer dependency”, but it’s the same damn thing) oooo wait, Rush has also had more failed marriages than Brand… so if Brand is a Heroine addict and a divorcee, and that means the things he says are BS…… you see where im goin here.
    ANYWAY…. on to what he said.
    It is a hard logical conclusion not to come to if you look at it in a vacuum. If you stop “voting” for a company or product via not buying it…. (instead of supporting competition) the industry will adjust and give you better options…. or so sayeth the Free Market. By that logic, in order to have any effect at all, a HUGE percentage of the regular voting public would have to stay home in order to send any kind of a message. the problem with that, of course, is (outside the vacuum) more conservatives will go vote.
    Brand may also be missing the fact that our elections count no matter how low voter turnout is. If an election is invalid if too few people vote… as i think may be the case in UK?… message sent. Not voting will actually stop the election from happening.

  24. cassandra_m says:

    Story about Iceland getting to 2% unemployment.

    Auntie Dem’s General WORK Strike has more potential to make change than does ignoring voting, I think. It doesn’t matter if a handful of people vote — as long as one candidate gets more votes than another, the system still works. In fact, with the corporate interests currently primary here, fewer voters serves their interests. Because it gets easier for them to get a government that serves their interests entirely and pays no attention to individuals. Sort of like Mussolini’s Italy. Or China — where the Government and Business interests are pretty much the same. And individuals can go to hell if they aren’t with the program — certainly individual liberty doesn’t exist there because it does not serve the joint interests of the Chinese government and their businesses.

  25. knows better says:

    @Jason330: Win, lose or draw on whatever votes I cast in the past or future I’ve always felt good about voting. Also voting gives me, and anyone else that votes the right to complain about what’s going on in politics and I get to high five my wife when Obama, and hopefully Hilary, wins in 2016. Not voting wouldn’t allow me to say or do diddly squat.
    That’s what MY measly vote offers me.

  26. Jason330 says:

    Knows Better, That’s fine. Whatever gets you though the night.

    But here is the thing. There has been a paradigm shift that voting isn’t keeping up with. We believe we are being offered a choice. We aren’t. When Clinton pushed NAFTA through and big money interests decided that money to Dems worked as well as money to Republicans – it was all over.

    We have a nostalgic desire to vote because we think we are taking part in some Normal Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover. We aren’t. We are being told that we have a choice. We don’t.

  27. cassandra_m says:

    You do have choices. There’s a reason why you voted for Obama over Romney or McCain, after all. You just don’t have *better* choices — ones that might be focused in on Big Picture improvements rather than the small ball largely meant as a signal to the base or the only possibility in an arena where non-cooperation is rewarded or focused on Big Picture improvements for those who have captured the system.

  28. Knows better says:

    Jason330 I’m wondering why you even post and comment here with that attitude. If you don’t plan on voting take a hiatus and leave the posting and commenting to those that do vote…or at least plan to vote.

    As for a choice that a matter of opinion as I’d rather like to feel that I not only choose to vote but vote for the one(s) that my wife and I feel best suits our wishes. If it turns out that we’re voting for the lessor of two evils so be it but at least we get to walk away feeling that we had the opportunity to vote unlike so many on this planet.

    Seriously Jason 330 what’s with the attitude? Not voting takes you out of the equation completely. Writing about not voting here may change the mind of someone that may well vote for a Democrat into not voting and it makes you insignificant in even posting here. If fewer blue thinking people hadn’t voted for Obamaman (our name for his being a SuperHero) the first time around would we have stem cell work being done or still back in the Bush stone age? Would the ACA happened? Would we be getting a woman heading the Fed? Would climate change even be considered? Maybe you’d like to go back to the Bush/Cheney stone ages? I could go on and on but that may be like dealing with a moron on another site of late. I’m going to find out soon. SERIOUSLY? NOT VOTE? REALLY?

  29. Jason330 says:

    If I don’t vote it will be a decision I don’t take lightly. I think Brand is really onto something about how the system has been rigged to give us all the illusion of participation.

    To mention Bush actually helps make the case. Gore won the election, and yet Bush became the President. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that the system was (is?) rigged to produce a certain outcome.

  30. knows better says:

    Can’t argue the 2000 election fiasco with you Jason330…not at all but at least we voted and have the right to complain about it because we VOTED. if you don’t vote you didn’t even try. Tell the person that can’t vote that you chose not to because Russel Brand made sense to you.
    Cassandra ROCKS !

  31. liberalgeek says:

    To some extent, this is a thought experiment with the goal of identifying the best means to an end. It is useful for that (look at the great discussion).

    I would argue that the alternative to voting is a more violent path. Almost by definition, the alternative to democracy is some form of mob violence. We are just talking about the form and extent of the violence.

    Personally, I am not ready to throw the idea of democracy out, but I’m old-fashioned like that…

  32. Tom McKenney says:

    @ Cass If Russel Brand is the smartest man in the room, it’s time to leave the room.

  33. knows better says:

    I don’t often agree with you completely Liberalgeek but on this I do! My home amory is for home defense when the RWNJ’s decide to do what you write about! I’m not advocating anything more than voting at every opportunity and as many times as we can without being caught…so long as they have a (D) next to the name.
    The wonderful wife is coming home now and I’m calling it a day in the home office. It’s been interesting tho… Russel Brand? REALLY?

  34. knows better says:

    @ Tom McKenney…maybe even leave the building!

  35. cassandra_m says:

    @Tom — I’m not certain that Brand is the brightest guy in the room, but I am certain that his point that governments are captured by corporate interests is exactly right. Sitting down and not participating in a democratic process that is supposed to make sure that governments are accountable to those governed just seems like a way to guarantee the future he forsees.

  36. Tom McKenney says:

    @Cass I agree participation is essential. Unfortunately, some would prefer not to work at all if they don’t get everything they want. I think many prefer whining than accepting any small steps toward progressive policies.

  37. pandora says:

    I was the one who said Russel Brand was the smartest guy in the room – that room, the one that he and the reporter were in. Got it? Unless anyone thinks that reporter made a good case – which seemed to be only very serious and important people, like ME, should be part of this conversation.

    And LG is correct – it was a thought experiment, put forth by a guy who makes his living being provocative. Seriously, people, this is Russel Brand we’re talking about. That’s not to dismiss what he said, but rather to put it in context.

  38. Jason330 says:

    @tommckenney. Weak.

  39. Tom McKenney says:

    @ Jason hit a nerve did I ?

  40. Jason330 says:

    You wish. After all these thoughtful
    Comments, tour lazy contribution stuck out like a sore thumb.