A couple of days ago I received an e-mail message from MoveOn.org which posed a hypothetical scenario in which Barack Obama lost the election in November by only a single vote, and asked who would be responsible for that. There followed a clever simulated news broadcast on the situation in which broadcasters, protesting crowds and interviewed persons around an embittered world cursed my name (or praised it in the cases of Bush and Limbaugh) because I, Jerry Rose, had not voted for Obama. The gist of the accusation was that I was just too damned lazy or antipathetic to get out and vote since, as a person on the MoveOn e-list, it was assumed that I would not have voted for another candidate. But if I had, the thrust of this message was the same, that I would be personally responsible for the election of McCain and that Iran would soon be bombed, at about noon on Saturday.
Watch the video message below.
This is supposed to be “funny” of course but, like most wit has, as Freud long ago pointed out, has an aggressive intent to hurt the “butt” of the joke. This scenario of a 1-vote McCain victory is so remote a possibility as to justify its dismissal as having any “serious” content. Unfortunately, the accusation of non-voting (or of voting for candidates other than Democrats and Republicans) as a source of an unintended but dreadful consequence of a citizen’s voting choice, is extremely widespread in this and most other U.S. elections, and it doesn’t come only from such “fantasy” scenarios. It comes from many people who condemn either a non-vote (an entirely “responsible” decision if the voter sees insufficient difference between candidates to make a “choice.”) or for a third party candidate. MoveOn’s “funny” video, when adapted to everyday peer pressure in an election season, is nothing less than the installation of fear into the voting process. It is hard to imagine any viable image of democracy which gives to the “tyranny of the majority” this power to terrorize voters who might be marching to a different drummer (or be refusing to march in the elector parade.) As they said on the old radio show, “’tain’t funny, McGee.”
Jerry D. Rose – Editor, The Sun State Activist