Letter To A Non-Voter
By David Swanson
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I vote and you don't, and that either makes me too gullible
or you too cynical. It's probably some of each. In a lot of
general elections, you're probably right to stay home. Any
way you look at it you lose. And if some candidate offering
you something you can really use is running in a third party,
why bother voting for them, right?
But I want to talk to you about primaries. What do you say
when someone prepared to turn the system on its head and radically
improve your life (yes, politics can occasionally do
this) is running in the primary of one of the two main parties?
Wouldn't it make sense to register in that party and vote
for that person in the primary and turn the election into
something that actually matters?
How would you like to have free quality health care like
the rest of the industrial world and never have to hear of
an HMO or a PPO or a co-payment or a participating provider
again? How would you like to have free quality preschool through
college – yes, college – and never have to hear about incompetent
teachers, large class sizes, or tuition payments again? What
would you think of a jobs program that hired thousands of
Americans at good pay to do useful work in our schools, parks,
forests, and cities? Would you like to pay for these things
by repealing all tax cuts recently given to multi-millionaires
and corporations, closing corporate tax loopholes, ending
the practice of buying a corporate P.O. Box in Bermuda in
order to avoid taxes, and ending waste at the Pentagon?
These proposals are not being made by a Ralph Nader or a
Ross Perot. These proposals are spelled out in detail at www.kucinich.us,
the website of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is running
for President as a Democrat.
You're smart enough to ignore people who tell you it's simply
your responsibility to vote. But you're also smart enough
to turn out when an initiative is on the ballot that really
matters to you. Well, now a candidate is on the Democratic
Primary ballot who can drastically improve our lives. If we
don't register and vote for him – if we don't tell all our
friends to do so – we'll have no one to complain about except
Of course, the mainstream media is pretending Kucinich doesn't
exist. The media has already ranked the candidates by bank
account or by no stated criteria at all and placed Kucinich
at the bottom. But members of the American Federation of State
County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ranked him first.
Subscribers to MoveOn.org ranked him third. And only he and
one other candidate are turning out crowds of any size at
Of course, AFSCME's president is ignoring his members and
joining Democratic insiders in trying to nominate a Democrat
who as closely as possible resembles a Republican. The problem
with this strategy is that we've already got a Republican
president. We've lost 3 million jobs since he took office.
Millions have lost health care. Homelessness is soaring. Schools
are crumbling. People who like this state of affairs will
vote for Bush. People who don't will stay home if the choice
is between Bush and a Bush look-alike.
Kucinich is a contrast to Bush and can therefore win by
exciting people like you. There are many more of you than
there are swing voters who always vote but don't always vote
for the same party. If all of you non-voters got together,
you could elect anyone you wanted. I think you can do so in
Why Kucinich? He has experience in local, state, and federal
government, and he has the policies people actually want.
He also has the nerve to fight for those policies and not
back down in the face of pressure from lobbyists.
Some progressives are excited about the fact that there
are two African-Americans among the nine Democratic contenders,
one of them a woman. Al Sharpton is a heck of a great public
speaker, but he does not have the experience or the detailed
proposals that Kucinich has. Mosley-Braun has less to offer
than Al Sharpton. These are the three candidates we should
be looking at, but of these three Kucinich stands out.
Democratic insiders are going to try to nominate Kerry or
Lieberman by arguing that Kucinich can't win against Bush.
That argument is based on a claim that people like you won't
bother to vote. But once Kerry has been nominated, it will
be too late for you to say "But I would have voted if you'd
given me a candidate." Now is the time to sieze for yourselves
a candidate. Nobody gives you anything in this world. Take
it. Elect Kucinich now by volunteering to help his campaign.
David Swanson's website is www.davidswanson.org