(Editor’s note: While we do believe positive change is possible on a local level through grass-roots campaigns and voter initiatives, until major systemic changes are forced into existence we have no reason to expect anything from presidential politics other than what we’ve been subjected to for the past few decades.)
By Robert J. Burrowes
As citizens of the USA with a presidential election approaching you have a wonderful opportunity to ponder whether to participate in this election or to participate in the ongoing American Revolution.
Your first revolution might have overthrown the authority of the British monarchy and aristocracy but the one in progress must remove the US elite which has executed a political coup against your government. And you cannot remove elite coupmakers in a fraudulently conducted election in which the ‘choice’ is essentially between two violently insane individuals, each of whom represents the violently insane US elite. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane‘ and ‘Why Violence?‘
The real value of this second revolution, which moves along steadily with routine outbreaks over a multitude of peace, environmental and social justice issues and occasional ‘uprisings’, such as the Occupy Movement in 2011 which spawned a range of new and visionary initiatives, is that it could give citizens of your country the chance to finally reclaim the Republic for those people who genuinely care about ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. And, just as importantly, have sufficient vision to regard these aspirations as something to be shared with the entire US population, starting with Native Americans, and even those of us in the rest of the world including those countries that are currently victims of US elite violence, whether it be wars, drone strikes, coups, economic exploitation or ecological destruction.
Such a revolution might rewrite your constitution and replace the second amendment ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms’ with the right to live free of the fear of gun violence. It might result in a form of social organization that distributes wealth equitably (perhaps by actually taxing the wealthy and outlawing the use of offshore tax havens) while reallocating the annual military (killing) budget to life-enhancing projects such as poverty alleviation, affordable housing, free education, free healthcare, clean water, renewable energy technologies, and a substantial budget for compensation to those countries that the US elite has systematically exploited or simply destroyed during the past 200 years. This would allow the 50 million US citizens who live in poverty, and another billion people around the world who also live in poverty, the chance to live a decent life.
Now, you might ask, ‘How are we, the ordinary citizens of the United States, even with our handguns, rifles and assault weapons, going to take on the US military and police to remove elite control of our government?’ Well, the answer is that you do not need even one weapon for this ongoing revolution and, in fact, you are vastly better off without them. Weapons have only one use – to kill people – and any revolution worth the name has a more profoundly ambitious aim than this.
What you need is intelligence, commitment, courage and a sound nonviolent strategy. The US elite controls your government and has crippled your republic because, over successive generations, you have let them. Every time you cooperate with the elite, because you are scared, by paying your taxes (more than 50% of which finances US wars and other military violence), putting your money into their corporate banks, shopping at their corporate shopping malls, buying and consuming the ‘news’ presented by their corporate media, rationalizing their policies as reasonable, participating in their unjust and violent legal system, fighting (as an enlisted person or as a mercenary) in their military forces, working in their prison system, accepting exploited employment of any kind, eating their poisoned and genetically mutilated foods (GMOs), going along with their endless attempts to divide you along racial, class, religious and other lines, you simply consent to their control. Why?
You have a simple alternative. Consciously and systematically participate in the ongoing nonviolent revolution that is already taking place and give it added life by your presence. Remake the US republic as you want it by withdrawing your cooperation with elite structures and processes while creating alternatives that meet your needs and the needs of those around you.
Join those US visionaries who are creating cooperatives where people are both managers and valued workers, take your money out of elite banks and put it into financial organizations that exist or which you create to serve the interests of their members (or, if you prefer, use LETSystems), refuse to participate in or pay for (with your taxes) US imperialism (and win friends all over the world), grow or buy healthy locally-grown organic/biodynamic (and, if you are concerned about the climate catastrophe as well, vegetarian) food, read progressive news outlets so that you know what is really going on in the USA and the world, read literature that deepens your understanding and concern for humanity and doesn’t just offer you a distraction from the horror in which you live, and support or even become one of those many fine nonviolent activists in your country who take personal risks in the struggle to create a better world.
If you want more of what you have, then you should vote and/or buy a gun. They have an equivalent outcome: they both legitimize elite violence and exploitation directed at you and those you love.
If you want to participate in this second and ongoing American revolution, then spend your time participating in the wholesome activities that many grassroots organizations already offer and in creating its next manifestations in your own neighborhood. It is the powerful conscience-based choices that you make as an individual that define your Self. And it is these choices that will have most impact on your family, neighborhood, community organization, trade union, religious organization and elsewhere and that will help decide the future of the USA and its role in the world.
Now you might say, I do some or even all of the sorts of things you mentioned above, so why not vote too? My answer is simply this: Voting is an act of disempowerment. It’s essential message is ‘I appoint you to govern for me’. I prefer to govern myself (both meanings intended). And you?
So what of those who present the ‘lesser evil’ argument: one candidate is so bad that it is better to have the other. This ‘argument’ is not worthy of scrutiny. If you are deceived by this argument, you will vote forever in the delusional hope that you will one day get a choice to vote for someone genuinely decent. In 2008, Barack Obama was supposed to be the candidate of hope and change. Did you get that hope and change? Are you going to get it with Clinton or Trump? Of course not. Elites simply ensure that change via the electoral system cannot happen; its function is to absorb and dissipate our dissent.
If you vote you are saying that you endorse this system of electoral exploitation. The tragedy is that even third-party candidates, who may be people of genuine principle, have no chance. Even worse, they add a veneer of legitimacy to your corrupt electoral system.
In essence, if you vote for the ‘lesser evil’ you are still voting for an ‘evil’ and, more importantly, you have participated in and endorsed an ‘evil’ system: one which denies you a genuine ‘free and fair’ choice to vote for a candidate who actually represents your interests and views and has a reasonable chance of winning. And, having won, is then able to actually implement their policies (rather than be stymied by a power structure that has no intention of letting this happen). Given your circumstances, ‘the only winning move is not to play’ their corrupt game and to put your energy into a genuinely winning move: working for the regeneration of American society.
Look at it this way. If there are two rotten eggs, would you choose the one that is less rotten and eat it? Presumably you would seek another option and only after you have identified and fixed what is causing the problem in the first place. The point is this: Unless you spend your time deeply contemplating the nature of the society in which you want to live and then devoting your time and energy into creating that society, you will never have it. And you have betrayed yourself.
The reality is that either Clinton or Trump is going to be president of the USA for the next four years and a lot of people (both in the US but particularly in foreign countries) are going to die because of it (through US military violence and corporate exploitation). What we can do is to invest our political energy into creating a United States in which, at some point in the future, the likes of Clinton and Trump, and those they represent, no longer drive outcomes in our world.
To reiterate: I am not saying ‘Don’t vote and do nothing’ (as so many people do already). I am suggesting that you ponder the dysfunctionality of your society, do some research into the secretive ‘deep state’ (or military-industrial complex or power elite or the 1% or however you wish to describe it) that controls your ‘republic’ with its electoral system designed to delude you into believing that you have a say in governing your nation, and then consider how you want to engage politically and act in accord with your conscience in doing so. It is only by doing this that we will have any chance of getting the society and the world that we want, even if it is beyond our lifetimes (and assuming we can avert extinction at our own hand in the meantime).
In summary, profound change only occurs from the ‘bottom up’ when enough ordinary people take the initiative to remake their own society. And if you are really interested in doing this, one important place to start is by reviewing the way in which you nurture children. See ‘My Promise to Children‘.
Other straightforward options, in addition to those mentioned above, include participation in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘ and signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.
But for those of you who are serious strategic thinkers, I have outlined a strategy for removing coupmakers on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy which is a straightforward presentation of the more detailed explanation offered in the book
‘The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach‘.
Is our destiny in our own hands? Only if we have enough people of courage to accept responsibility for it. Are you one of them?
Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding
and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in
an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a
nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?‘
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com
Robert J. Burrowes
P.O. Box 68
Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth
Nonviolent Campaign Strategy
Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence
Global Nonviolence Network