To effect real change, Americans should exercise their right not to vote

A boycott gives both parties two years to ponder what went wrong
  • @dusborne

I found the Oracle and she lives on a scruffy street in Hollywood (not that Hollywood, the one near Miami). She opened her front door, listened for a few seconds to the two perky canvassers urging her to vote Democrat in November’s midterm election and told them to clear off. She won’t be voting for anyone. “They’re going to kill us all anyway,” she said before bidding the three of us farewell.

I might quibble with her reasoning but I like the message. Come 4 November, when this country will be asked once again to elect the full House of Representatives and about one third of the members of the US Senate, the best possible response will be to follow her lead. Yes America, don’t vote, not at all. Take a pass, sit on your hands, raise your middle finger, kick them in the kazoo.

Don’t vote because you know you’re fed up with the whole bunch of them. Last year one poll famously found that haemorrhoids, toenail fungus and cockroaches were more popular than the folk on Capitol Hill. This week a poll by the Washington Post and ABC News found that more than half of you think your own member of Congress is doing a lousy job. They’ve never seen that before.

Don’t vote because it won’t make a dime of difference if Capitol Hill signs off for a while. True, they did pass a bill to send more arms to Israel last week before decamping for summer recess, but otherwise this Congress has been one of the least productive of all time. Could they also pass a bill to provide desperately needed funds to shelter children pouring across the Texas border from Central America? They could not. As for the broader immigration reform they have been grasping for for so long, it’s going nowhere.

Don’t vote because if Congress stands unoccupied for two years, President Barack Obama, unfettered, will finally be able to do those things you elected him to do in the first place. Twice! Like immigration reform! The risk otherwise is that you will not only let the Republicans keep their majority in the House but also take control of the Senate away from the Democrats. That won’t help, not one bit.

Don’t vote because you’ve tried the alternative already, shaking up the establishment by sending in a few crazies. That was the Tea Party rebellion. At least in Britain we have European elections to play that sort of game – go Ukip! – but there is no such safety valve in America. It’s Congress or nothing. Most sane Republicans know that using the Tea Party to take the House in 2010 was an awful idea. The whole party skittered dangerously to the right, went to war with itself and now risks splitting in two.

Boycott this election because it will be the only way to get their attention. If you’re being asked to decide some important ballot initiative, then go ahead. Maybe fracking is the issue rocking your state, or pot-smoking in kindergarten. And if yours is one of the 36 states electing a new governor you should probably make your voice heard there too. But when it comes to Congress leave everything blank. It’ll feel good and it will give both parties – the Republicans especially – two years to ponder where they’ve gone wrong.

Finally, my Oracle is right because, let’s face it, there is too much voting in this country anyway. Leave it alone this year, let them paint the Capitol Hill complex and lay new carpets – how nice if we can skip the State of the Union address for two years. Then in 2016 all will resume as normal. The electorate will be refreshed and excited as never before. And the political elite will have been suitably chastened.